Our nation has, of late, become unpredictably mono-focused on, and somehow mired in, the subject of immigrant policy, to the exclusion of far more vital and material issues such as, economic inequality and injustice, national security, health, environmental, criminal justice, voting rights and infinitely more. In the present presidential contest it is no less than astounding to observe that these immensely important issues seem to have been relegated to the background and contention regarding immigrant policy, a far less significant subject, installed at the public forefront of our national concerns.
In spite of certain setbacks, including past immigration policy towards the Chinese, the refusal of entry of a ship carrying Jewish escapees from Nazi Germany, and very few others, Americans have always understood that our nation became great by virtue of liberal immigration, and the benefits ensuing from the admixture of diverse peoples, races, religions, languages and ancestry. The Great Seal (and many other applications) includes the proud, historic phrase “E Pluribus Unum” (From Many, One).
What we see as causative of this vexing dilemma, is the tactical (and historically, un-American) call to nativism by one of the current candidates for presidential office, which call, it appears, has historically had great appeal to those disappointed with their life, and those disgruntled folks of low information and insufficient education, seeking to identify an external cause for their dissatisfaction.
The great success of our relatively young nation which provides the motivation for so many people of foreign lands to desire to come here, is something to celebrate and share, not selfishly hoard .Strangely, many former immigrants to our country, after settling in, and a few generations of success, oppose the admission of others who identically are seeking a better life. How soon they forget! Gratitude aside, good fortune apparently, is not to be shared.
It might be useful to find other descriptions for the unregistered immigrant than “illegal alien”; these are people, not extra-terrestrials, whose” illegality” is confined to the absence of required paperwork and documentation, and not to criminal behavior.
It can be said no better than Emma Lazarus, whose words appear appropriately on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
“… 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, the tempest ‘tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden gate.”