Immigration has fueled the glory and the dream of America, but not the kind of immigration we are now experiencing. America was birthed and built by immigrants who wished to escape kings, queens, viceroys and dukes. These Old Immigrants, let us call them, sought a better life and were willing to uproot and risk failure in a strange but free land. They came to America to become Americans.
New Immigrants — 11 million, we’re being told — did not come to assimilate. They came and continue to come for food, medicine and a paycheck. They came and come for subsistence. They also came and come illegally. My heart goes out to the New Immigrants because I know a little bit about subsistence living. A man with a wife and small children tends to take drastic measures to feed his family, even so drastic as to illegally enter another country to find work.
My compassion, however, is matched by my anger at the U.S. Government for allowing the New Immigration to flourish and thereby create an underclass with which it is now saddled and for which it should be ashamed. It is an underclass, incidentally, with which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal are just hunky-dory. Because of industries that have hired illegals and paid them next to nothing, and because of politicians who wink and look the other way, the resulting underclass is, to me, heart-wrenching.
Also because of government policies, America’s melting pot is no longer melting. The Old Immigrants who constructed America are being replaced by the New Immigrants who are deconstructing it.
The New Immigrants, except for terrorists and their ilk, are not deconstructing America by design. They merely seek life’s essentials.
Business and industry are not deconstructing by design either. They are just after money, but they are not illiterate like so many New Immigrants and should be able to read the writing on the wall that shows what illegal immigration is doing to the nation.
The writing on the wall shows a nation being slowly pulled apart by ethnicity and cultural differences, a nation within a nation, a nation that ignores the rule of law and the obvious need for border control, and a nation that is moving inexorably toward dependency because of the dangled carrot stick of “benefits.”
In his gigantic work, “From Dawn to Decadence,” classicist Jacques Barzun writes that “the tendency of the late 20th century was Separatism that affected all forms of unity.” Barzun says our melting pot has become a salad bowl and that Balkanization is beckoning. His view echoes Theodore Roosevelt who warned, “The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.”
So what is our federal government doing to deal with the illegal immigration problem? It is proposing things that have already been tried and failed. Senate Bill 744, the brain child of the infamous Gang of Eight, is an 844-page tome that essentially repeats the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Like its predecessor, 744 touts the weasel-word expression “comprehensive reform.” I’m nervous about “comprehensive reform” in the same way I am nervous about anything catapulted by Sens. Schumer, McCain and Graham. You never know what you’re getting because of the language they use.
Compare their language to that of the calm, clear-talking Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who opposes the bill, and you get the idea. Incidentally both Schumer and McCain were in office when Congress passed the 1986 bill that granted amnesty to approximately 3 million illegals.
Also like 1986, the current bill promises toughness, stating all the things illegals must do to become citizens (be employed, pay taxes, be off welfare, learn English, etc.). It’s not actually tough, though, because of the allowed exceptions (if not employed, be in job training). If Numbers USA is correct, 33 million green cards would be issued during the first decade of the bill’s passage. One wonders how many more millions our schools and hospitals can take.
The words of Emma Lazarus still move me: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free,” but we cannot help the huddled masses of our own land or any other land if we can’t muster the will to control our borders. Borders must be first and foremost in the marathon debate that is about to ensue.
Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher.