For centuries people have been flocking to the United States to seek sanctuary from persecution and other fears. Others came in search of greater opportunities and the promise of a better life. History shows that there have been four waves of migration to the US: the English colonization of Virginia from the early years of this Republic until the1820s; the second wave began in the 1840s through the 1870s when a reported 15 million immigrants entered the country. However, the heaviest period of immigration was from the 1880s all through the 1920s when an estimated 25 million immigrants made this their home. The most recent wave, the fourth wave, began in 1965, mostly from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Generally, and especially since the latter half of the twentieth century, U.S. immigration policy has geared towards addressing specific problems, i.e. setting limits on the number of immigrants who can legally emigrate at any given time, and finding solutions to the problem of political refugees. Other immigration Acts includes the1986, 1990, and the 1996 Immigration Reform and Control Acts designed to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, and Acts specifying the rights of immigrants living in the United States.
It is true that the government of the United States, at various times, have had to enact exclusionary laws, i.e. the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 passed by Congress giving the President “authority to exclude or deport foreigners deemed dangerous and to prosecute anyone who criticized the government.” Furthermore, there have been periods of nativism; but by and large — in spite of the occasional anti-immigrant or anti-immigration fervor — this has been a welcoming nation. Americans are very welcoming of immigrants. More than any nation on earth, America understands the value of immigration.
The recent uproar about the impending Immigration Bill is much ado about nothing. Governments have the right to control immigration — more so the government of the United States. We live in a very open society, a society that does not restrict the movement of law abiding persons. Not only is the society free and open; the geographic borders are also free and open. To the East and West are the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, but the Northern and Southern borders are flanked by Canada and Mexico. Except in designated places, the borders are wide and free and open allowing undocumented immigrants and others with untold intensions towards the United States and her national security interests to roams about without respect for the country’s laws.
No government should allow such nonsense and carelessness. Whether in times of war, or peace, it is government’s responsibility to make all Americans and all immigrants feels safe and secure. The proposed bill is not about limiting or cutting off immigrations. No! There simply must be order to the immigration method. You cannot have a situation where people simply walk into the country unannounced and undocumented. There are thousands and thousands of prospective immigrants waiting their turn to lawfully enter the country while others simply stroll in and vanish within the system.
No nation can afford to keep her borders porous and or allow for unmitigated migration. Besides, why should a group of people wait — 5, 10, 15 years to migrate — when others can simply walk in, break the laws and then granted residency and citizenship? Not only is this unfair, it is a recipe for disaster and calamitous dramas.
The unfortunate part of the ongoing debate is that some people have made it out to be “us versus them” debate, arguing that White America wants to keep the Hispanics out of this country, and in the process painting the Hispanics as the aggrieved. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Today, from Florida to California and from Arizona to Texas and everywhere far, near and in between, the Hispanics are defining, selecting and dominating the debate. One could say this is a shrewd move on their part; but for me and for the purpose of the article, their astuteness is neither here nor there. This is simply about the need for just and fair immigration.
Conservatively, there are 10 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Ten million and counting! “Bush wants Congress to create a program to allow foreigners to gain legal status in the United States for a set amount of time to do specific jobs. When the time is up, they would be required to return home without an automatic path to citizenship.” Others want total amnesty for all illegal and undocumented immigrants. Both plans are doom for failure because about seventy five percent of such workers will never leave. And if you grant total amnesty, such magnanimity will simply encourage more illegality — with the hope that down the road another amnesty will be offered.
Competing proposals in the US Congress attempts to address the need for foreign workers and homeland security concerns. The House of Representatives for instance, approved a bill that would “require employers to verify potential employees’ legal status. It also subjects employers to criminal penalties and imposes civil fines of up to $50,000 for each illegal hire. It does not include a provision for guest workers. In principle, the latest draft would allow undocumented workers already in the country and a limited number of future immigrants to eventually apply for permanent resident status — without having to return to their native country. Critics say that amounts to amnesty.”
I would suggest that the Congress, in conjunction with the White House, set up a bi-partisan committee to examine all aspects of US immigration policy and come up with ways to safeguard the border and deal with matters concerning illegal and undocumented workers. The time is long overdue for immigration policies that really works, and which takes into account the interest of all those concern. At the end of the day though, we must not reward illegality and punish all those who have been patiently waiting to make a legal and safe passage to this great country. That’s common sense.
Because of what America is and because of what America offers, there may never be a fail-safe or perfect immigration policy. I have no il
lusions about that. Not at all! Still, it does not mean that the United States should give up protecting her borders and other national security interests.
It is a disservice and disingenuous on the part of those advocating safe passage and or free ride for illegal immigrants. When is enough really “enough”? Ten million today, and in a few years another twenty million? Well, why don’t we just open our water ways and land and sea borders to all those who show up? We have laws in this country that moderate and legislates our social, political and economic entitlements. Therefore, all those desiring to come here must follow US laws.
It is not uncommon to hear people say “all Americans are immigrants,” therefore there should be unrestricted immigration. Others have posited that since “Native Americans didn’t complain,” why should anyone else? I think both arguments are skewed. Yes, it is a historical fact that “we are all immigrants.” But to the extent that this is a nation-state, a sovereign nation-state, she is entitled to regulate her borders, pursue and enforce domestic and foreign policies and other matters that contribute to her wellbeing and perpetuation. Uncontrolled immigration is inimical to the well-being of this country.
For most of us immigrants, whether naturalized or not, this country has basically kept to its promises — which is that if you work hard, obey the laws and have viable dreams, you will be supported, and your dreams realized. The proposed immigration bill is not about curtailing anyone’s dreams. It is about legality and about national security interest. Come to the United States if you want to come; but please do so legally.