Let me tell you a story about immigration. In America, we have always had the benefit of immigration working out to make us the most powerful and advanced nation. We have absorbed the culture, traditions, and knowledge of every country around the globe. For perspective, the first immigrants to America were the pilgrims of England who’s survival and success in this nation were mostly attributed to the hospitality and kindness bestowed by the natives. Even what we consider to be our highly evolved system of government is an adaptation of what the first settlers witnessed from the Native American tribes and how they governed themselves. Ever since that moment, America has considered it’s immigration policy to be it’s greatest power. A country made up of diversity and contrast, pieced together through peaceful co-existence and separation of powers and government. Over the years we have attracted some of the greatest minds and self motivated entrepreneurs from across the globe to come study, work, and eventually join as citizens of this great land.
So what happened in the past twenty years to change our view on immigration so drastically that we hold illegal immigrants in the same regard as terrorist and drug runners. Now I know there is a relation between the two, because most terrorists and drug runners are not here legally. Of course this is the same logic that all ax murderers at one time purchased an ax from the hardware store, so therefore anyone who purchases an ax is a potential ax murderer. And it would be understandable that in a time period of great fear for ax murderers that we should have people register axes and identify them in our community, but we don’t even do that with handguns in most states. In fact, to the contrary, we are very careful to never identify gun ownership in a national registry out of fear that one day our government would go bad and try to take away our guns. I agree with that logic. We should always behave in such a way as to not put to much trust in government. We don’t know today that the future holds for our government and we should never give the government the power to oppress and infringe upon the rights of it’s citizens and legal guests. That very attitude is what has made America, known to the world as the home of the free.
So the state of America today is fear. We are not afraid of ax murderers or today even terrorists. We are afraid of losing our jobs. We are afraid of poverty and national debt running out of control. So the nation has turned to the immigrant population with disdain and anger. Politicians eager to win favor with a fearful and unhappy middle class have turned against one of our countries greatest assets and made it a vial common enemy to consolidate political power. But it isn’t all immigrants who suffer the blame, only those of one common ancestry. I would say one race, but in America, we have removed their status as a race so that we can not call it racism when we mistreat them. We are passing laws that empower our local law enforcement to pursue people as criminals based only on the look of their appearance. We have changed civil liberty so that “white” people are innocent until proven guilty, but anyone of Hispanic origin is guilty of being an illegal immigrant until they are able to prove their innocence.
As we lean more toward nationalized services like health care we will only grow our inability to tolerate these uninvited guests who seek prosperity and a brighter future. I know this because history shows us the road we are taking. And it isn’t pretty. In the wake of WWI Germany was faced with mounting financial worries due to inflation and a huge amount of debt taken on from treaties after WWI. The Wall Street crash of 1929 didn’t help much either. The people were afraid that they had no power over their future, so in their fear they elected representatives from a party that not only promised, if given the power, to provide for the people, but also gave them a common enemy. They wholly blamed a specific group of immigrants for all their current problems. This common enemy along with some moving speeches about national pride brought the Nazi Party of Germany to power from 1930 to 1933. You probably recognize the rest of the story, but focus on the similarities. Jews were forced to identify themselves and put up with curfew, searches, and unjustified home invasions, while more common citizens and immigrants were aloud freedoms. Now I bet if you asked a natural German citizen of the time about how they felt about this treatment of the Jews, they would answer, “If they don’t like it they can leave.” Luckily, some of them did while they could. Some would have said, “if they want to right to be here, they will have to put up with it.” I’m sure that most German citizens would be disgusted at what took place after 1933 in regards to the treatment of the Jews. But once they gave their government the power to oppress, it was too late to complain.
Some people would say that being pulled over in Arizona because of the color of your skin is a far stretch from the Holocaust, and I agree. But it’s not far enough for my taste. America, you can do better. You are better. Let’s find a way to deal with immigration reform that doesn’t lower us to a level that will be hard to return from. Let’s act in a way that our future generations will be proud of. In the end, we are talking for the most part about people who have not come through the proper channels and received the proper documentation. Not an enemy, but a neighbor seeking refuge. I would compare it to being pulled over because you drive a nice car and you didn’t use your blinker to switch lanes on an empty road, and the officer asking you for your statement from the IRS showing that you have paid your taxes, since by your car’s value, he can tell you have money. And if you can’t provide proof on hand then they seize your vehicle and send you to lockup until a family member can bring by the correct paperwork. Sure it’s a minor inconvenience to ensure your taxes are paid, but what if the cop does it to you once a week just because he doesn’t like you. If the law says it is within his right to do so, then you are helpless to stop it.
I leave you with this.
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus, 1883
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!”
Maybe we should move lady liberty to San Luis, Arizona.