My son will turn 18 in August. The little boy who was born at 32 weeks is now well over 6 feet tall. The baby who struggled to nurse because he was born so early can out-eat you and me! The baby whose breathing carried such a wheezing sound that I was sure his lungs had to be full of fluids has not developed any major medical problems.

Turning 18 is the first major milestone in his growing up. It’s the point where a boy becomes a man. At age 18 he is considered an adult by law. He can register to vote. He can get credit. And as an American citizen, within 30 days of becoming 18 he must register for the Selective Service (draft).

If he doesn’t register, he can’t get a student loan or get into college. He cannot get a government job. What is also very interesting about the Selective Service laws is that you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to register! All males between the ages of 18 and 25 and living in the U.S. must register within 30 days of either turning 18 or arriving here. So that means that all “undocumented workers” and immigrants must register. There is an exception for students and members of a foreign diplomatic corps.

As our Congress gets ready to offer immigration reform, we need to pay attention to the “exceptions” that our government is making. These exceptions are allowing those who came into this country illegally to be given a “pass” while the average American citizen is penalized and jailed for the exact same thing.

The Bush administration has quietly removed a provision in the immigration bill that would require those who are here illegally from paying back taxes and penalties to the IRS. The logic behind it was that it would be too difficult to find out which ones owed what. But can we tell that to Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers) who is currently in jail for tax evasion? Or to Wesley Snipes who made headline news a few weeks back for the same thing? Or to any of the other non-famous American persons in jail or in debt because of IRS problems? I don’t think they would laugh.

What about the rules regarding Selective Service and those here illegally? Should those men be forgiven for not having registered for the Selective Service? If they were here between the ages of 18 and 25 and never registered, should they now be offered a chance at citizenship? Had Sept. 11 resulted in a draft, would those who now protest for “their rights” have stuck around to protect this country?

Just this past week, Jeanine Echols a sister in Atlanta, was found “not guilty” of registering her children to attend a school inside the Atlanta city school district though she lived in the suburbs. The fact that she was even prosecuted says a lot. But one only has to look at the Oak Park-River Forest school districts to know to what extent a district will go to make sure Austin students don’t go to that school. Yet as taxpayers we have been forced to pay to educate children who are in this country illegally. Will the Immigration Bill stop this from happening?

When I majored in Spanish in the early 1970s, I was told by the end of the 1980s, there would be a huge need for bilingual speakers. At that time, I couldn’t understand how the birthrate could generate that number of non-English speakers. So as the debate over illegal immigration continues, I know that this was planned by the U.S. government, and I understand why black folks are upset. We are barely 50 years past the signing of the Civil Rights Act, and we are the only group in the country forced to compete against foreign nationals in our own country for jobs, benefits and government services. It is not an accident. It is by design.

I have many questions about the Immigration Bill. Since the bill requires people to learn English, can it also state that no local, state or federal monies can be used to pay for it? Without a condition like that, local government will tax all of us to pay for those classes.

What is going to be done about people who come into the country on a visa and just stay? Will we have an influx of elderly parents of those who came into the country illegally and they become a burden on U.S. taxpayers when Alzheimer’s or any other debilitating illness takes over? “Granny-dumping” could take on a whole new meaning.

It seems everyone hollers about local government attempting to enforce federal laws but don’t have a problem with breaking federal laws.

What about the propensity of people to purchase houses and illegally convert them and claim everyone living in the house is family? This affects the quality of life for everyone in a neighborhood.

What about reparations for the descendants of the enslaved Africans while the Congress is in a “forgiving” mood? Or even an apology?

Keep an eye on senators Durbin and Obama. Also congressmen Danny Davis, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Bobby Rush. They went to Congress to represent our interests. Let’s watch them to make sure they do.