Sunday, May 23, 2010

Immigration

picture is of a display at the museum in Pierre, South Dakota

Recently at church I spoke from the pulpit about immigration. I touched a raw nerve of a couple of parishioners, and I suppose I will of some of my readers as well.

Let me preface this with the truth: I don't know much about immigration! I am going to try to learn more about it. So please don't take what I'm about to say as being something spoken by an expert. It's just from Little Old Me.

Here's how I see it: most Americans are immigrant descendants. Very few of us started here. Why did our ancestors come? Because they lived in intolerable situations: poverty, famine, war, censored freedoms, violence, needing to feed and educate their families.

These are the same reasons the current immigrants want to come to America. Why can't we have some sympathy and compassion?? THEY ARE ATTEMPTING THE SAME THINGS OUR FOREMOTHERS AND FOREFATHERS PULLED OFF... finding a new life.

I am all for people coming here legally. That, of course, is the ideal. It's our policies that create the mess people find themselves in. Let me tell you a story.

My brother-in-law knows a Mexican man who tried for a long time to come legally to the U.S. He is a business owner, family man, educated, successful by anyone's standards. The violence erupting around his family was worrying him, and he tried for a long time to come to the U.S. He wanted to move his business and family to the U.S. Our policies made it a veerrrryyyy loonnnnggg drawwwwnnn ooouuuttt process. If his goal was to find a safe place for his family, he wasn't going to find it soon in the U.S.

B-I-L and this man and a few others went on a ski trip in Canada. In the airport on the way back home, the man from Mexico was pulled aside and questioned. "Oh, no," thought my BIL and the others, "he's being targeted because he's from Mexico." But he wasn't, not in the sense you might think. You know what the authorities in Canada were asking him??? "Will you please move to Canada?!"

That is right. They want successful business people. They recognize a valuable immigrant when they see one. He is now a happy and safe Canadian citizen. He could have been a citizen of the U.S. But we, a country of immigrants, didn't trust him, didn't want him, made it impossible for him to pursue his wish to come here.

Is it any surprise, then, that when people can't work with the system yet still need a change in their lives, in desperation, they try to sneak in? Yes, I wish they could get here legally. I don't like the illegal immigration mess we've gotten ourselves into. But why are we surprised this problem exists? We are a scared people... scared of people who have the SAME STORIES our ancestors started with.

Couldn't we just LET THEM COME? Instead of building a wall, we could have an Ellis-Island-like program... screen people who want to come. Don't let the drug dealers in. Don't let in people with active, contagious diseases. Don't let in felons. Everyone else, welcome! Our country would benefit like it did with all the other immigrants who have arrived. (With apologies to the Indians who did not benefit.. we screwed that up badly, too. That's another story.)

We are shooting ourselves in the foot by being so pompous and unwelcoming.

8 comments:

katie said...

I agree with you 100% on the LEGAL immigration issue. I think we should streamline the process for legal immigrants. But the drug dealers, felons and others will still be coming in illegally unless we find a way to make that impossible. We should welcome the educated, the industrious, the people sincere about starting a new life in a new country, which we currently don't do. As for the others--I have no answer. Living in California I see the problems all the time caused by illegal immigration. But so far no one has a good way of fixing them!

Will you still be my roomie? :-)

True Blue Nana said...

I can't say how I feel. The Hispanic students that I taught were so driven although many were behind in basic skills. We had a lot of work done on our house last fall and much of it was done by Hispanics and we got to know them and really enjoyed interacting with them. I would not want them sent back. I don't know what the answer is.

Carol E. said...

Katie, I think we agree, for the most part. What to do about the drug violence and naughty illegals is a huge question to which I don't know the answer. So Nana, we're in the same boat.. we don't know what the answer is. I want to learn more, but I think I still won't know the answer, but at least I will know more of what I speak.

Carol E. said...

Katie, of course! But I just watched Dateline, about a cruise ship sinking, abandoned by the officers in charge. Yikes! That's a one in a million chance, right?

woolywoman said...

Preach it, sister. My grandfather in law came on a passport he had bought, so the family last name is lost. My grandparents were both placed in the retarded class in first grade because they spoke Polish and not English. They both went on and did well in school, worked, paid taxes, and sent kids to college. I think we need to make it easier for good guys to come and harder for felons. Most jobs immigrants take are not jobs that native borns will take. This country is great because of immigration, not in spite of it!

Pat said...

My view is that we are creating terrorism by our exclusion. All they want is what they see Americans have and flaunt to the rest of the world. Over the years they will grow like young lions, form gangs (terrorism in the making) and attack with anger at what they can't have. We'll start seeing terrorism on our soil like we've not seen yet.

Sharie said...

Maybe you should tell all this to the family of the rancher who was murdered near the border of Arizona and Mexico. I lived in California for 29 years. You have no idea the problems with the gangs, the cost of medical, the cost of education the innocents that are murdered. The cost of prisons. California should have lots of money but it is broke guess why. Same with Arizona. There are a number of states around the country looking to do the same thing Arizona did. We are not living in the 1800's. Immigrants are welcome if they come legally. If they can't wait for it then by all means go to Canada.

j said...

Yes, Canada wants successful business people. Not illegal immigrants who come here with no money, skills, education and become a drain on the system.

An Ellis-Island-like Program is for people who want to come here legally. Those who want to come here legally and invest in the process and this country already have methods to do so.

Why is it pompous and unwelcoming to want all people in America to follow the same laws I have to follow? Why is it pompous and unwelcoming to wish I could afford to send my son to a college out of state while illegal immigrants and their children are granted "in-state" tuition to whatever college in whatever state they choose? Why is it pompous and unwelcoming to to go through the process and pay the fees to obtain a passport and a visa to visit your country but you do not have to do the same to visit mine? Is it pompous and unwelcoming of you to demand I leave your country when my Visa expires because your government will put deport me, incarcerate me or worse?

I know you are not going to change your mind about this, neither am I. But I am a product of the system. My family came to Texas from Mexico in the 1920's to escape corruption - legally and with a desire to learn the language and become Americans. My SIL became a citizen only two years ago and it was such a proud day, she came her legally from Columbia, and says I am American now, I will never go back.

My lawn guy lives here 8 months of the year and sends every dime he can spare back to Mexico. He has no desire to become a citizen, only to work, pay NO taxes and go home for 4 months in the winter. He is not the Mexican that Canada wants as a citizen, why should we?