No Time for Immigrants: Part 1

 

The topic of immigration must be a timely subject since it was on the cover of Time magazine this week.  I had already decided to write about this subject before I found out how “Timely” it was.  I have been researching this issue for about a month now.  I have heard so many arguments one way or the other about it that I decided to educate myself about the issues and try to find some “truth” for myself.  My self-education began with a trip to the library where I requested about a dozen books on immigration.  They all came in from different libraries about a week later.  I had finished about nine of them when the urge to summarize my ideas and weigh in with my opinions just gripped me.  This subject is fairly complex as it must cover social, political, economic and legal issues.  I would like to do some justice to the subject, so my blog on this issue may become two or even three blogs.  Please feel free to weigh in on the comments section with your opinions, thoughts and feelings.  Many people have said that this issue should be decided on the basis of facts and not prejudices and antipathies but that would be like asking for the snow to fall when it was warm outside or for hell to be a nice place to visit.  It is not going to happen.  So realistically, I would like to look at this issue from both a logical factual perspective and also from an illogical or emotional perspective.  Often our gut feelings may be trying to tell us some important truths.  It does not hurt to listen to our feelings as long as we moderate our feelings with our brains.
Most of the books I selected looked at immigration from a wide range of perspectives.  There were pros and cons of immigration policy, some that were totally against immigration and others that were for a liberal immigration policy.  Several books dealt with the history of US immigration and others dealt with more of the legislative issues around immigration.  Books such as: Immigration Policy: Point/Counterpoint by Allport and Ferguson, Illegal Immigration by Miller, Mexican Immigration by Stuart Anderson and Immigration: Opposing Viewpoints, edited by Leone were among a few of the titles I selected to provide me with a wide range of viewpoints.  I started out with the intention to reject any bias I had one way or the other on the issue.  One of my caveats though was to try to separate fact from emotion.   I think perhaps one danger to seeing any “truths” is when facts try to hide as emotions or emotions try to hide as facts.  Much so called data that I read would not stand up to any statistical validity in terms of evidence or proof.  Much of the emotions out there also try to hide behind facts and present themselves as logical arguments when they are based on bias and prejudice.  My object in my reading and research was to sort through the rhetoric, and vitriol to see what we as American citizens really need to do about immigration.  What is in our best interests both short-term and long-term?  What obligations (if any) do we owe to other peoples of the world?  Do we need to worry about the quote inside the Statue of Liberty?
The New Collossus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, 1883
Perhaps we need to erase this quote inside the statue and substitute it with the following:
The Scum of the Earth:
Stay home; you wretched curs,
We are sick and tired of being the dumping grounds for the world.
We have enough poor and tired masses.
We have enough yearning to be rich and well off.
Stay home; we have enough problems of our own,
We already have too many here who can’t speak English.
Even many Americans can’t speak good English.
Where will we find enough ESL teachers?
Stay home; find work or jobs in your own land,
Give us a break, taxes are high enough here already.
We have our own culture, you would not fit in.
We don’t need more criminals and illiterates.
Stay home; don’t come unless you are needed,
We will post for those aliens that fit our job requirements.
We only want those who are educated and creative.
The rest of you need not apply. 

Stay home!
The two sides as represented in both poems would seem to be galaxies apart.  Is there really any middle ground?  Are there any solutions to the issue of immigration?  Some of the key questions which I have found and which need to be answered are:

·         Do we already have too many immigrants here?
·         What do we do about illegal immigrants? How do we keep them out?
·         How many immigrants should we allow in?
·         Who should we allow in?
·         What do we do with the ones (both legal and illegal) already here?
·         Will too much immigration ruin our culture and values?
·         Will the wrong type of immigrants be bad for our country?
·         How long will it take for them to be assimilated?
·         How much immigration can our education institutions handle?
·         How can we afford health care and social services for those in need?
·         How do we keep out criminals and terrorists while letting respectable immigrants in?
·         Should we give amnesty to those already here?
·         What are the best ways to control our borders?
·         What is a fair immigration policy?
·         What role do drugs have in encouraging illegal immigration?

Are there solutions to these questions?  On the positive side, I believe that there are.  I believe history can show us a path through the web of confusion that seems to surround these questions.  The great philosopher Santayana noted:  “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”  The past has many lessons on the issue of immigration that we need to pay attention to.  On the negative side, we will not be able to solve these questions as long as we are basing our decisions on emotions masquerading as facts.  We need to sort out prejudice, discrimination, intolerance and xenophobia from the questions and decisions surrounding the issue of immigration. 
Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of the answers I have found to the above questions.  However, do not rely on my perspective alone.  Do not trust the Buddha on the road.  Go to your local library and find some of the same books I have found.  Read the opinions and viewpoints for and against immigration.  Democracy only works with an informed citizenry. As long as only our politicians have the “facts” the rest of us will remain gullible and stupid on this issue. As such, we have no way to guard the guardians.  We all must be vigilant when it comes to decisions affecting our lives and the very foundation of our nation.  None of us would be here if it were not for immigration.  I presume this even applies to Native Americans to some degree.
Let’s all take our responsibility to keep this nation strong and democratic. Take some time today to inform yourself about some of the issues I noted above.  Go online and read some of the history or policies of immigration in this country in the past.  How much do you care about this issue?  Do you care enough to spend perhaps an hour each week for the next four weeks becoming more informed about this issue?  If not, are you willing to trust your political representative to make the decision for you?  Are you willing to let these questions be decided by others? 
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