Sunday, February 3, 2013

Immigration and Liberty - Let 'Em All In ...

We have become such a nation of ungenerous, forgetful pussies that even our progressive leaders jump up and down like spring lambs when my very favorite President proposes an immigration plan that is a genuflection to our worst xenophobic instincts.

I have spent the day, on and off, listening to liberal radio spouting on and on about, yes, of course, we must nail every foreigner who so much as touches a border fence tomorrow, but for today, we confirm our compassionate credentials by permitting ‘illegals’ to live in our melting pot, just as soon as they’ve spent a few years getting shot at by other foreigners we’d just as soon also did not dirty our shores any time soon.

Or am I oversimplifying?

I am one of those dirty foreigners. I just happen to be white, sound like James Bond, and have a couple of ancestors who hitched a lift on ‘The Mayflower.’ Before my Dad moved back to the homeland. And made me do the whole immigration thing again in 1992.

Why are we who occupy the political space ever so gently to the left of center so proud that we want to close our borders at all? So proud that we support efforts to criminalize those who have answered the call we inscribed on the base of our Statue of Liberty for the world to send to the US its poor and huddled masses?

What is it about poor and huddled that has folks thinking this includes the money, the time and the wherewithal to make the grade, apply for a green card or go through processes - let alone meet qualifications those poor and huddled have no chance of ever achieving? Certainly not before reaching the United States.

What is it about poor and huddled that does not instantly penetrate the skull with the screaming message that it’s pretty much all these good people can do to drag their quivering bodies from the political repression of Myanmar, or the economic depression of Central America, before collapsing in an ‘illegal’ heap, in some shady apartment complex, desperate for any work available, but ready to contribute and glad to be here?

What is it about the American Dream that the rest of us so take for granted, that we cannot imagine the inability of those poor and huddled even to contemplate reaching its heights, without actually being in America?

And what is it about us that has suddenly made us forget that we have always been a destination for all immigrants; a haven for all those who crave the opportunity, not to scrounge off us, but to build their own Dream alongside ours?

Why have we become so scared? Why have we abandoned our best nature? Our heritage? Our purpose? Why have we thrown our lot in with the naysayers, the doomsayers, those who are ‘right’ in their politics alone, but not in their understanding of the noble concept that was and remains the United States.

When exactly did we wake up and determine that we'd run out of American Dream?

Until the day they tear down the Statue of Liberty, I for one stand by its invitation. A simple invitation to come - penniless, but hopeful - to our shores, where all will be welcome. No need to say 'thank you,' because you were welcome even before you left your homeland.

When money is tight, when jobs are few, when the future has about it the dull edge of fear, there are those who would feed on that fear by making our own innate generosity of spirit the demon we must vanquish. Who would annul the invitation, to replace it with talk of birthright citizenry. Not me.

I for one renew and stand by the invitation. What about you? Will you join me? Will our President join us?

I have a different immigration plan. We make the invitation what it was always supposed to be. Open, non-negotiable and irreversible.

Tear down the fences. Disband the Border Security force. Rip up the Green Cards. Let Arizona (and Alamance County, NC) secede.

We have enough room, enough food, enough economy and enough heart for all those still willing to make the journey. Oh. And who do not have a serious criminal record.

For those here. Immediate amnesty. And an apology it took so long …