‘Undocumented’ Americans face identity crisis

Call it hippie abuse. We’ve all heard about undocumented immigrants and their absurd connundrum: They cannot get documents, in part, because they lack documents that are needed to get documents. Duh. Our economy wants them, needs them and taxes them. Meanwhile, the law makes certain they live underground without the licenses and insurance they would need to ever live safely and in accordance with law. Some came here by crossing the border illegally, but millions simply overstayed work or student visas and the document nightmare began and perpetuated itself.

It turns out that immigrants, or “aliens” as some prefer, are not alone. Children of certain hippie varieties have documentation problems similar to those of immigrants. They should attract more understanding because they did absolutely nothing wrong — no border crossing; no extra-year-in-grad-school that ran out the meter.

The problem involves children born to parents who live “off-the-grid,” declining to participate in mainstream society. They birth their children at home, school them at home and avoid hospitals and clinics. Their children never appear on the radar of the Social Security Administration. The state never issues them birth certificates. Another group of undocumented Americans, says UNICEF, consists of people born into rural poverty.

Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Barbara Cotter told the story of Jamie Lanosga. The 18-year-old American citizen was born in Walsenburg, Colo., to a couple who did not want her to become a subject of government. She’s the opposite of an “anchor baby,” born to parents who want nothing from this country. Here’s how her father explains his decision to keep his daughter unknown to state and federal authorities.

“My dad was in the military, and he believed that he was defending our liberty, all the while, the only thing we’re doing is raising our children to be used by the government,” said Jim Lanosga.

He has a point. Young adults entering the workforce are used by a system that taxes them for Social Security and may never pay them back. They are exploited by a government that has spent a good chunk of their future earnings for the sake of political expedience today. It is easy to understand how some Americans feel they are subjects of a government that is supposed to serve them.

Today, Jamie Lanosga wants to work in the real world. She would like to drive legally. She would like to participate in society at a level that’s not afforded to those who lack documentation. She believes her parents tried to keep her off government radar as an expression of love; she holds no resentment.

Jami Lanosga has trouble with government because her father is right. Government is more interested in using his daughter — treating her as a subject — than in serving her as an American who is a customer of the state. They are more interested in making an example of the woman and her parents than in getting her what she needs.

Freedom Newspapers respectfully asks Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to intervene and do whatever may be in his power to get Jami Lanosga the identity she needs. She should not have to live as an undocumented “illegal” in her own country.