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 our teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
-"New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus
TPJ: Those highlighted words have greeted many a luckless and helpless immigrant for centuries as they washed up on our shores seeking the opportunities of America. However this long-held, dearly cherished motto is being challenged today on our southwestern border with the influx of Latino immigrants. Despite the reality that all of us besides Native Americans are children of immigrants. The Native Americans didn't want us here yet we forced our way into their land and took it from them by killing them. How is that better than forcing your way into America by crossing a border fence?
I'm not saying that we shouldn't re-enforce border security because it's important for national security, but if you're already here then I think you should be allowed to stay. Many of these immigrants have American born children here, so do we really propose breaking up families and separating children from their parents because they are immigrants seeking a better life for their families? Do we really think we can round up 11-20 million illegal immigrants logistically? Do you know how much that would cost and what that would look like? It would look like we're a police state and not a compassionate country of immigrants.
Does the Statue of Liberty say, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. The wretched refuse of our teeming shore. Send these the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I life my lamp beside the golden door--except latinos?" Or except those who who might indeed be poor but came here by coming over a fence instead of on a boat? The Statue of Liberty says nothing about legal versus illegal. If our border is porous enough for people to be able to make it here than is that really their fault? Of is it our fault for not making the border more secure? We'll allow illegal Cuban immigrants to come here with the, "Wet foot, Dry foot" policy where if they step foot on American soil (dry foot) they're allowed to stay but if they are intercepted out at sea (wet foot) then we turn them back. So, how confusing, inconsistent and discriminatory is it that we allow some illegal Latino immigrants to come here so long as they step foot on American soil; yet other illegal Latino immigrants that jump over a fence but still land on American soil aren't allowed to stay?
Well, some people say that the policy with Cuba is different because they are a communist country and thus their people are being repressed, so we're allowing them in as political refugees. Oh really? So, you're saying then that Mexico is a stable, non-repressive, non-corrupt, safe place to live? So, you're a political refugee if you flee communism but you're not one if you flee a narco state as repressive as Mexico that is so corrupt there isn't enough money to invest in jobs for the people? That's hypocritical my friend. And how come we aren't holding rallies to kick out non-Latino immigrants that overstay their visas? For example, did you know that illegal immigrants from the Philippines are amongst the top five countries of origins (#5) that supply the most illegal immigrants to America in 2009? So, where is the heat to round up all those illegal Filipinos? The top 10 list also includes: India, (#6) Korea (#7) and China (#10)!! And what about all the illegal Canadians in this country? This illegal immigration issue has a lot of anti-Latino sentiment to it and if you don't see it then perhaps you're one of the people contributing to that sentiment.
A lot of people now think there is a difference between their ancestors who came through Ellis Island and those who cross our southern border. For example they claim that their ancestors learned English right away and assimilated easily into American culture--WRONG. The Germans refused for decades to give up their native tongue and raucous beer gardens. The Irish of Hell's Kitchen brawled and clung to political sinecures. The Jews crowded into the Lower East Side, speaking Yiddish, fomenting socialism and resisting forced assimilation.
TPJ: Another argument that seeks to hold up white ancestral immigrants as superior to today's illegal immigrants is that "they" are stealing jobs and depressing the economy. However that was said of our ancestors by those who were already here. They would compare the Irish to animals and Italians as backwards but in the end, "[...]Historians and demographers are clear about the bottom line: In the long run, New York City -- and the United States -- owes much of its economic resilience to replenishing waves of immigrants. The descendants of those Italians, Jews, Irish and Germans have assimilated. Manhattan's Little Italy is vestigial, no more than a shrinking collection of restaurants."
TPJ: The same is true today. The immigrants that are crossing our southern border are costing us money but I believe that they are doing more good for our economy than hurting. For all the talk of deporting all the illegal immigrants we'd be screwed if we didn't have them here doing the often overlooked "menial work" in this country. So, here is my three legged stool to reforming immigration. First, secure the border. Second, create a biometric I.D. card that all employees must show, which will drastically cut down on those coming here in the future to seek jobs. Third, create a path to citizenship for those who are already here and building a better life for themselves and their new country.
Because as much as you might not like it these immigrants have been a plus to our country. A lot of them are hard workers, people of faith, with strong families who really want to give back to the country that has given them so much. This path to citizenship would have to include a probationary period where you have to go to the "back of the line" of those who have been waiting for a legal grant into the country. This probation status would allow you to stay but there would be other requirements such as a fine, etc. We would grant you a "green card" to give you a pass to work and invest in the country while you're waiting in the back of the line. Perhaps it comes down to are we going to honor our American immigrant tradition and those words on the Statue of Liberty or are we going to become a police state that no longer values immigration. I'll leave you with this sobering fact--if we stopped immigration completely we'd have a population decrease each year in the future as people are having less children than in generations past. This according to Mary E. Williams in her book Immigration, Page 83.