25 October 2005

Immigration - Cornerstone of the American Dream

There has been a decidedly anti-immigration tone to some of the comments attached to my politically bent posts. Looking through op-ed pieces written for my opinion writing course I found the following column on immigration. I think it appropriately addresses some of the questions of immigration and I hope it adds to the discussion on immigration. I am interested to know your collective thoughts on immigration; please comment at length.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
- taken from the Statue of Liberty

America has always been a nation of immigrants—a literal melting pot or tossed salad of races, religions and ethnicities. They came (and come) from all parts of the globe—from all parts of Europe, Africa (many pressed in to slavery), Asia and points between. With the aforementioned (and obvious) exception of African slaves, they came of their own free will. They came, some seeking one thing, others, fleeing another. Whether escaping poverty, persecution or some other privation, America, and all she stands for, gave these people hope—hope for a better life for them and their families.

As sure as they have come, their coming has caused resistance on the part of immigrants who had the fortune of getting here first—though not by much. It is all too easy for those resisting immigration to blame every societal problem from crime to joblessness on the immigration. This accusation is neither new, nor unique. Simply Google “immigration” and on any given day there will be dozens of articles and columns addressing the issue of immigration. So long as America offers protection to the weak and jobs to the poor, they will continue to come and we must form a consistent and workable plan to allow those who come with good intentions, to enter legally.

Guarding our borders and protecting the Homeland from terrorists is a serious issue whether you are from a border state like Texas, California or Washington or from the heartland. A terrorist entering through the Mexico- or Canada-US border can easily travel to any other point nationwide to launch their attack. American citizens, regardless of state, must be aware of the threat this presents to them. They must understand that immigration policy affects them in more ways than simply providing cheap labor to mow their lawns, clean their houses, or work their farms. Successful border and immigration policy will allow foreign workers to come to the US to enjoy those dreams of freedom and prosperity. These immigrants will raise families, send their kids to school, learn English and better work skills and will gradually improve their socio-economic position. They will, in effect, live the American dream circa 2005.

The principle remains the same—let all who want to come who have good intentions enter the US and work—but let them come legally. Nuts and bolts rules can be worked out on the basis of this idea—this idea that brought my own ancestors from Germany and Norway five generations ago. They will come and they will work and they will live and in so doing, continue to add to America, making her strong and great. Let us extend the hand of welcome to those who seek this freedom, this opportunity and actively and strongly resist those who want to destroy our way of life and the very freedoms and privileges that encourage so many want to live in America.


Ms. Anonymous said...

From the mouth of babes:

Marvin G interviews Gilma G, El Salvador

How My Mom Came TO The U.S

When my mom came to the U.S., she was 19. My mom and her family were poor. In El Salvador my mom helped my grandma sell food. There was a war in El Salvador, and she wanted to get away from it.

My mom drove and walked from El Salvador to Mexico with 20-25 other immigrants. She got caught by the Mexican border police. She got stuck there for 3 days, and they were asking her lots of questions. After her release, she was three days without food and water. She had to steal from stores, and she got robbed by thieves. She snuck from Mexico into Texas by driving a car to Arizona. She took a plane to Virginia because her brother lived there.

She lived with her brother and worked in Amigos Restaurant because my uncles who lived here already helped by getting her the job. She liked her job, but she got paid only a little.

My mom came to America to give her family a better life. I love my mom because she sacrificed many things for me.

Jake, your column was excellent and I agree with most of it, but I can't help but question whether "acceptable and supported" immigration is only valid when all legal processes are complete. Have you recently looked at what it takes to legally enter the country, let alone how many various visas (one for every letter of the alphabet practically) there are for which to apply? Not to mention the lengths at which one must go to obtain the title of "US Citizen" when half of our "legal" population couldn't even be deemed worth of such a title? Talk about jumping through hoops. This does in no way mean that I do not understand the importance of structure, rules and regulations (If this were not the case, I would undoubtedly be sporting the blue and gold of the notorious UCLA folk). I’m merely playing devil’s advocate (on a small scale) and at the same time questioning my very own ideas of what is acceptable and support-worthy in my eyes. Stories like Gilma G’s tug at my heart. I wish each story capturing the heart and soul of the American Dream adhered to our legal requirements, but that is not the case. I fear it never will be.

I leave with this small excerpt from a document, "Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants"

Being a permanent resident is a "privilege" and not a "right." The U.S. government can take away your permanent resident status under certain conditions. You must maintain your permanent resident status if you want to live and work in the United States and become a U.S. citizen one day.

Sounds so pleasant. Might as well have stamped their papers with, "Welcome to America where your free agency can be revoked at any time...(suckers)."

Marc said...

At the current job which I work we have 4 immigrant workers who travel every year to Utah to work for 8 months out of the year and return to Mexico for 4 months to work and spend time with their families. 2 of the workers are here on legal work visas whereas the other 2 pay "coyotes" $4000 a year for help sneaking back into the country. Every day I am at work I see the hard work they perform day in and day out without so much as a hint of complaint for performing "Mexican trabajo". Two of these workers will be returning home for the first time in 2 years. One of home has a one year old child he has never seen in person. Yet, every March they return. For what? For the oppportunity that they may have their families at home living a life such that they can afford the medical, social, and eduacation that they so desire for their families. This, though it may not be the "American Dream" idolizes the idea behind what America offers to the world. People coming to America sacrificing their lives to make something of their future generations. Though they work for the months they are home they still can't make enough to survive. So every March they will return with a "Que Pasa" from the famed Antonio.

Anonymous said...

This eduacation, what is it? I'd like to get me one of them...

Fernando said...

Are people too afraid to leave their names? What's the deal with that? Anyway...

I believe that the United States should continue to allow people to immigrate as long as they do so legally. There needs to be order. Both of my parents (legally) immigrated to this country nearly 40 years ago (from Mexico and Chile) and I too was born outside this country (although I was a U.S. citizen from birth). It is indeed a privilege to live in this country. Many people across the world admire the U.S. for what it offers people. My father had several opportunities to take us back to South America (for work reasons), but every time he was offered the chance, he declined it (even though his company would've greatly compensate him for it). Why you may ask? Because there is no other country in the world that provides the same types of opportunities as this country does. He came to this country to seek a better life for himself and his family. (I'm not saying that other countries can't provide a decent life.)

Having lived on four continents and visited nearly a dozen countries, I have experienced different cultures a people. The fact that Ms. Anonymous states, "Might as well have stamped their papers with, 'Welcome to America where your free agency can be revoked at any time...(suckers),'" intrigues me. There is nothing wrong with a country putting these type of conditions on an immigrant. Think of any institution you join, you agree to abide by certain rules and regulations. If you choose to violate these rules, they (may) have the right to revoke your membership.