Vandal’s ‘Deport Pedro’ sign points to urgency to fix immigration

Political campaigns expect a certain number of the signs that they place in yards and alongside roads to be knocked down or carted off by those with little understanding of how free speech works. It’s part of the cost of a campaign.

What can’t be accepted by campaigns or the community is vandalism that falls to the level of racism.

For a number of days earlier this month a sign along I-5 in Marysville that originally read “Vote for Pedro,” supporting Pedro Celis for the 1st District U.S. House of Representatives, had been vandalized, the word “Deport” scrawled over “Vote for.”

It’s an insult and a grossly uninformed one, at that.

Celis, a Republican, following his finish in the Aug. 5 primary, will face incumbent Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat, for the Congressional seat in the Nov. 4 general election.

The message “Deport Pedro” sought to discount an immigration success story, a Mexican-born man who more than 20 years ago, after earning a doctorate in computer science in Canada and teaching as an assistant professor at Indiana University, became an American citizen. “Deport Pedro” sought to belittle a man whose 12-year career with Microsoft twice earned him recognition as one of the IT industry’s most influential Hispanics. “Deport Pedro” sought to smear a candidate who has called for measured, reasonable and desperately needed reforms to the nation’s immigration laws.

Not that we needed another example, but the vandalism and the misdirected anger behind it adds to the urgency that Congress overhaul immigration and resolve an issue of importance to our economy, our culture and our values.

Celis believes there are three related issues that he would hope to address:

“We need a more effective mechanism to allow people to come here legally.

“We need to ensure the rule of law. If not, it makes it essentially too hard to get anything else done.

“We need to deal with the people who are already here. It’s not fiscally responsible or in our best interest to try and deport them all, but at the same time, we cannot … reward them by allowing them to jump ahead of those following the rules,” he said.

Celis, unlike more than a few of his fellow Republicans and even some Democrats, says he is eager to find a workable solution.

“I think we need leadership in Congress that is not afraid of the problems, is not afraid of dealing with immigration. It’s part of my life story,” he said.

That’s how you answer an idiot’s vandalism; it’s just too bad it won’t fit on a campaign sign.

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