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.