IMMIGRATION

The topic of immigration is an emotional subject for many Americans. It is time that we face the issue head on and deal with it, instead of using immigrants as political pawns, instead of the human beings that they are.

It is no secret that history, our history as a country, has had its cycles of fear mongering especially during hard economic times and during times of change. Insecurity and fear breeds contempt. 

The 1920’s were a time when people felt threatened from within. Citizens felt threatened by people who were foreign born, those individuals and families that some citizens felt were not adapting to American life. They were felt to be a threat to our culture.

“Political fundamentalism was an attempt to deny real divisions in American society by imposing a patriotic cult and coercing a sense of oneness.” William E. Leuchtenburg. Christ and the Constitution campaigns took place. Sound familiar? 

 

After World War II, a flood of new immigrants came to America. In one year, from 1920 to 1921, 800,000 people entered the United States, primarily from southern and eastern Europe.

The Irish weren’t too highly thought of either. A familiar quote of the day from Walter Hines Page, read as follows: “We Americans have got to hang our Irish agitators and shoot our hyphenates and bring up our children with reverence for English history and in the awe of English literature.”

In today’s America, we hear a similar refrain about the brown people. Or if you listen to Congressman King of Iowa, you hear him say, that we don’t want any foreigners from violent countries.

What we really need to do is to look at the reality of reportedly nearly 11 million people who are here without proper documentation.

Why are they here? They came for work and they came because corporate America wants cheap labor. 

They are not subhuman or aliens. The use of the word aliens is dehumanizing. They don’t come from a different planet.

They came for opportunity just like our forefathers did. Many have children who were born in America and as a result are citizens of the United States.

It is time to take those who live in the shadows in fear and place them in the light of day. Congress has that responsibility to ensure that those who live in fear of being sent back to their country of origin an answer. Are we to continue to live in a situation where on one hand we say to them we want you here because we can pay you less for work that most all Americans are not willing to do, or are we going to say to them you are not welcome here, you must leave? You can’t have it both ways.

Some people protest and say you are taking away jobs from Americans. Are you kidding? Do you really believe Americans are willing to pick strawberries or are willing to clean toilets, or pick apart chickens in the factories of Tyson foods?

If we really wanted to fix the problem we could do so if we really wanted to.

The recent Senate Immigration reform bill goes a long ways towards fixing the problem and the Senate even had bi-partisan support with 68 Senators voting for passage.

We shall see if the House of Representatives will act on the bill and even give and up or down vote. I am cynical whether or not this will occur because for many Republicans this is a red meat issue that brings money into their campaign coffers. Many of the concerns regarding the security of the border have been addressed in the current bill but still for many if you agreed to all of the right wing demands, nothing will suffice.

Congress is now dysfunctional because for some, ideology is more important than solutions. They are more concerned with having the argument.

In point of fact we need to come up with a remedy that we citizens can live with. We need to know who is here, and we need to treat those who do the work that we are unwilling to do as human beings. They have families just like the rest of us. Some go to the same churches that you and I go to. 

We need to be more like the Statue of Liberty and less like the Nazi’s who treated people as something less than human. Unless we are Native Americans, we were all immigrants once. It takes courage to leave home with hope for the future and little less. May Congress have the courage to find a solution. No bill will be perfect, but any bill that brings people out of the shadows and into the light can only be an improvement over what we have today.

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