Thinking about Immigration – Part 1: We Need a Fair Immigration Policy – Not an Anti-Immigration Policy!

Immigration-logoThe topic of immigration today is one of the most important subjects for all Americans.  Studies in productivity show that increases in productivity are due to two major factors:  Education and Immigration.  Once upon a time we had a system for both of these objectives which helped make our country great.  Today, both of these systems are broke and need reform.  If we are to compete in a global economy, we must have a 21st Century immigration policy that meets the needs of employers and those immigrants that want to or need to come to the USA.  I had already decided to write about this subject when I found myself between the proverbial rock and a hard place.   Immigration has become a key weapon in the mouths of people like Trump and many other politicians.  A climate of fear which has pervaded this country since 911 has been spread to link the problems of terrorism with the problems of immigration. The Anti-Immigration people want you to think that immigration and terrorism are synonymous.  They want you to believe that only by keeping all immigrants out of the USA can we keep our country safe.  The key question I want to answer in my three part blog is as follows:  Do too many immigrants erode our standard of living and contribute to rising crime and increased taxes or do too few immigrants create a lack of needed employees for new jobs and a a lack of vitality for the economy?  

immigrants taking the pledgeI have heard so many arguments one way or the other about the subject 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 soon became three blogs.  Too much for one too read in one setting so I will publish this in 3 Parts.  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 however 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.  

Immigration-reform-rally-APMost 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:  

stature of libertyNot 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.

old picture of immigrationStay 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.

immigration-reformOver the next three blogs, 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.

Time for Questions:

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?  Are you an immigrant?  How did your family or ancestors get to this country?

Life is just beginning. 

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Fred Broussard
    Aug 24, 2013 @ 20:28:27

    That’s a great subject..another “moving target”.. like all societal needs.

    I think that We’re getting what we deserve as an ignorant, poorly educated (by choice); short sighted and selfish people. We’ve never learned much from history and I doubt we will soon wake up. An addict that spends a lifetime in dysfunctional loops is not likely to change easily or quickly.
    The internet..and blogs like yours are our best hope, in my opinion.
    I think it was ol’ Ben Franklin who encouraged the colony’s representative not to leave but to stay and “keep talking”. Hopefully we’ll keep the dialog going and chaos will turn to order that embraces a win-win approach. And since needs always change,that approach needs to include the old fashion quality system process for periodically checking,reviewing etc..recognizing that preventative action is different from corrective action. Corrective action or crisis management seems to be our current approach to everything. We are often shallow in our thinking and all sides of an issue exploit this limitation. Mr. Kipling’s Mr. “why” and Mr. “What” are as deep as it usually gets. “How”, “who, “when” and “where” are treated like neglected stepchildren.

    Doctor Isikawa, Japan’s Quality guru, sat next to me at lunch on the PMI JAPAN tour. I asked him what was the main difference he observed between Japanese and American quality management. His reply..”Japanese managers easily embrace the improvement process (PDCA) as an ongoing cycle that can be entered from any step. You Americans seen to use a model like..”PLAN, DO, FIGHT FIRES, PLAN, DO FIGHT FIRES.”
    I think that, like a dysfunctional addict, we shall not change significantly until the pain is much greater than the present.
    The pain diminishes as the economy improves and we will probably simply direct our attention to “another fire”, leaving the flame of immigration flickering so it can rage again at another time. I hope not, but I fear that’s the most possible outcome.



    • johnpersico
      Aug 25, 2013 @ 20:05:37

      I could not agree with you more Fred. I wish I had met Dr. Ishikawa. I met many of the “Gurus” during those days but not him. Thanks for the comments and taking the time to read my ramblings.




  2. Greg Gorman
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 04:08:00

    Immigration I
    1. How much do you care about this issue?
    I am not an illegal immigrant, nor do I know any. I am, however, an American citizen and as such, I cannot idly stand-by and allow my government to treat honest working people who are resident in this country in any manner other than one that respects their humanity and their sincere intentions to improve the lives of their children and their children’s progeny.
    Beyond the injustices created by the Mexican-American War which surrendered much of what was once Mexico to the United States, there has always existed a tacit invitation to Mexican workers to come to work. American agriculture, restaurant businesses, and construction companies have profited greatly from their clandestine employees. Now that we have entered a long term recession the jobs now held by these people are of greater value and now politicians wish to focus the pain suffered by American citizens on the jobs held by the illegal immigrants instead of the mindless avarice of bankers and financers who created this catastrophe.
    2. Do you care enough to spend perhaps an hour each week for the next four weeks becoming more informed about this issue?
    Really, John, an hour per week? Between cable news, and the main stream media, the public is bombarded by different perspectives for many hours each week. The problem is the information that one receives, is it communication or verification of previously existing opinions.
    The differences in opinions are not trivial. One side wants an adherence to law and order, the other wants understanding and charity for their plight. There is common ground and we all want our congress to act in favor for what’s right for America.
    3. If not, are you willing to trust your political representative to make the decision for you?
    If you cannot trust your congressman to act in the best interests of his constituents then how can you have faith in our country which is a representative democracy? After all, if the actions of our congressman do not match our interests then we have the ability to vote him out.
    4. Are you willing to let these questions be decided by others?
    No, and when I am king everyone will do things my way. Everyone has a say in this issue. No one congressman or president has the final say in what our policy will be. This will be a consensus of very diverse opinions which range the full spectrum of ideas which traverse our great nation. I accept their decisions even though I don’t always agree. I do however try to have my voice heard, and my opinions understood.
    5. Are you an immigrant?
    I hope you’re not trying to elicit a lame response like we’re all immigrants, Johnny!
    6. How did your family or ancestors get to this country?
    My mother’s mother emigrated from Ireland around 1880. Mother’s grandfather fought in the Civil War. My father’s mother’s family emigrated from Quebec. My father’s father’s family came to America from Ireland at an unknown date



  3. Trackback: Perspiration or Inspiration: Which is more Important to the Writer? | Aging Capriciously
  4. johnpersico
    Sep 27, 2015 @ 12:26:56

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    I wrote this a few years ago. I have added a few thoughts to this series of three blogs which deal with immigration. If you want a fair immigration policy and not an anti-immigration policy, I think you will find my thoughts and ideas about this subject interesting. I am trying to put the subject out there objectively and stay away from the virulent anti-immigration hate mongering fostered by people like Donald Trump and many other Tea Party supporters.



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