The term, “immigration,” plainly and simply refers to the nation’s intake of other countries’ nationals who desire to live in the United States. The overwhelming majority of such immigrants come in quest of a better life for themselves and their families; others come here as “refugees,” fleeing danger. Their applications for a better life, or for safety to America, are, in historic reality, made to a nation, entirely populated by (earlier) immigrants and their present descendants. It strains reason to contemplate the mindset of those who vigorously oppose the admission of new applicants for admission, who, as they or their forbears did in the past, yearn for a better life in the United States. How soon they forget!
The heated fervor concerning a procedure which is sanctioned by law and the U.S. Constitution, has notoriously and unfortunately, led to a sharp divide, between the proponents of immigration and those who oppose it [often on spurious grounds of international security, keeping out competitive cheap, labor, and crime prevention]. Such opposition has exacerbated to an extremity which recently featured, no less than detention and imprisonment of immigrants, security cages and a reprise of the Nazi-Fascist style practice of separating families; most egregiously, young children from their parents.
We fail to see any legitimate grounds for making traditional immigration difficult, nor in branding applicants for admission with negative or undesirable references; essentially, “illegal immigrants” are simply (legal) immigrants, but without the required paperwork. We have stated a preference for the adjectival reference, “undocumented” rather than” illegal”, since the latter term is clearly defamatory, in its suggestion of criminal behavior. Further, we regard the current wave of avowed ethnocentric concern and repressive behavior, as nothing short of atavistic bigotry.
The purported fear that newcomers to our country would demonstrate a willingness to work for low wages and threaten U.S. jobs, is without any redeeming merit; this was the very same false propaganda utilized in past periods of populist opposition in reference to Irish and Chinese immigration. The average applicant from Mexico and Central America will not pose a serious threat to jobs in Silicon Valley; moreover, numerous studies indicate a present shortage of labor, in low tech employment, i.e., agricultural, food processing, service and construction work, to cite some examples.
Opponents of liberal immigration seem to uniformly portray immigrants as needy people who will sap the treasury (and ultimately taxpayer financial resources) or, potentially, be a drag on society, with little potential to add positive value to the nation. These clueless opponents may simply be unaware of the plethora of additions to the standing and wealth of our nation, by persons who emigrated to the U.S. from elsewhere; in science, medicine, the arts and literature, in the digital field, and especially (most visible to the average American) the culinary scene. The acquisition of valuable cultural benefits from immigration in areas such as art, sculpture, philosophy, science, literature, design, technology and the performing arts, are far too numerous to adequately specify. These, among other benefits, imported along with the immigrant, soon become fixed and regular features of our society, as if they were created here. They constitute profits, bonuses or dividends from wise investment in immigration.
We observed a lecture on public television which featured an apparently well recognized food historian, who stated that the cuisine in the U.S. was extremely dull and uninteresting (evidently, the English cuisine of the day) until the periods of major immigration of people from the Mediterranean parts of the globe; thereafter, an entirely new, and desirable cuisine was brought to these shores, featuring salads, olive oil, seafood, cheese and other tasteful and healthy food choices. Admission of immigrants from the Asian part of the globe gave rise to a popular demand for the various cuisines of China, of Shanghai, of Japan, India, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand. We happily frequent Greek Italian, Middle Eastern and other restaurants, featuring food of those nations with which most Americans have enjoyably became familiar. Many of these “ethnic” foods are sold at retail stores, or made at home, such as baba ganouche, humus, pizza and guacamole.
In an early post on cuisine, we suggested that it would be desirable U.S. immigration policy, to admit all who desire to settle peaceably in the U.S., provided that they brought with them a national recipe book or, alternatively, a grandmother, who was willing to (sorry) spill the beans as to the preparation of her national cuisine.
It is not as easy to fully comment on the enormous contributions of immigrants to our nation, in the areas of science and medicine, art and ethnic history, mathematics and physics, digital science, music and entertainment, literature, philosophy, architecture, poetry and music, technology and engineering, history and sociology and countless more valuable gifts. Our national pantry is bulging with immensely valuable contents; but there is still plenty of room for refreshment and further replenishment.
In addition to evincing appropriate empathy and compassion for their difficult past, we should look upon immigrants as a fertile source of America’s growth and continued advancement.