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The immigration demonstrations or “protests” of the past few days are a truly historic phenomenon. They bring us back to the foundational ideals that made this country what it is today: freedom, access, opportunity, work, self-improvement, desire for a better future for one’s children.

I recognize the United States’ legitimate need to better police its borders and to assure as best we can that the American people remain secure. But I am not in favor of building a 700 mile between the United States and Mexico. I recognize that among some 11.6 million immigrants, some are not “pulling their weight,” some are “costing American taxpayers,” some are unwilling to work, and some may be involved in periodic criminal activity. So we need to develop new laws and immigration procedures that allow us to identify those that do not really want to be Americans in the best sense of that term. But I do not favor making illegal immigrant status, ipso facto, a felony, nor do I favor prosecuting those who assist illegal immigrants with humanitarian aid.

I believe America’s shores should remain as open to freedom-loving and freedom-seeking people as, in a day of terrorism, we can make them to be. I do not believe that immigrants always “drain our economy” or that they are always “threats to the American way of life.” Perhaps a few may be, but the flip side of these observations is that most immigrants bring talent, dreams, and a work ethic that often puts the American work ethic to shame. Rather they enrich the American culture and economy with their presence and contributions.

So I am a bit perplexed by the strong voices urging Congress to “deport them”; “send them all back where they came from.” This is more about nativism, bigotry, and fear than it is about concern for American ideals.

I am struck by the beauty of American citizens and “illegals” marching together, asking for legal mechanisms to provide immigrants with a path to a better life. I salute them.

I also think present-day immigrants, like the millions who have come before them, including my forbears from the British Isles, should learn American values and governmental structures, should learn English, and should seek to assimilate in American society even as they maintain the best of their own cultural heritage.

Immigrants and immigration are not the issue. Evil moral choices, criminal behavior, bigotry, and hatred are the issues. We must learn how to discern and how to identify those who choose the evil path, rather than assume anyone different from ourselves must be “bad people.”

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

Immigrants are as American as apple pie. Yet we seemed to have entered a brave new world wherein we’re not as brave as we thought we were.

With some 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and more finding ways to come across the borders every day, what is the U.S. to do? Is it really possible to send back to their home country a population roughly the size of the state of Ohio?

Some 40% of illegal immigrants came to this country with work, student, or visitor visas. Many of them now have children who are American citizens by virtue of the fact they were born in this country.

Building a wall the entire length of the 2,000 mile U.S./Mexico border is not the answer and smacks of Berlin and the Great Wall, images I don’t want to associate with the United States. Summarily deporting illegals is not the answer. Levering felony charges on people who provide illegal immigrants with humanitarian aid is not what America is about. Posturing by politicians wanting to be re-elected is also not helpful.

America’s “immigration problem” does not lend itself to a quick fix. It will require not a few sound thinkers and some statesmen who can rise above sectional politics and self-interest.

America is a “nation of immigrants.” We’re about freedom, and we don’t want to deny this opportunity to others. But we can and should establish systems of admission and citizenship, expect immigrants to learn English and work for the benefits this country affords, and evidence a loyalty to the ideals America represents. If immigrants take these minimal but important steps they will be both welcome and productive, sharing the American dream.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.