The Door to America
One could trace it back to the moment that white man first set foot on the soil now considered The United States of America. Even though the people that truly deserve to call America theirs were virtually ethnically cleaned off of the precious American soil there was, and still is, an attitude that corresponds to the belief that the land of the brave only belongs to the people that are already there. Ignored is the ever important fact that most people that live in America have ancestors that immigrated here. Ancestors that were only able to do so because America, The Land of Immigrants, held its golden gates wide open. Now Americans seem to stick to the ideal that open doors are bad for Americans and immigration is bad for the economy, but is this truly the case? Is it bad for Americans to share their land with potential new Americans? Is it bad for the American economy to have an influx of cheap labour? It certainly doesn’t seem to be that way. Instead it would appear that even though the idea of opening the golden gates to America goes strongly against the public opinion, immigration could be, and to some extent is, good for America morally and economically.
The American public seems to believe that immigration is bad. Immigration seemingly being a topic that demands some sort of opinion from everyone, makes it a perfect topic for politicians to latch on to. This sometimes leads to politicians getting and keeping their jobs because they promise to be strongly against immigration. In one recent news article for example, the author writes of how U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft went to Arizona to promote the expansion of anti-Illegal Immigration efforts by the INS. Ashcroft wanted to more forcibly prosecute undocumented workers and those who smuggle them into the United States. The Article later goes on to explain that Ashcroft’s stop in Arizona could have been motivated by election year politics for Bush is trying to get re-elected this year (Ashcroft). Voters though, do not seem to notice the fact that politicians appear to be willing to say what ever it takes to get a vote. Instead the average American seems happy that immigrants are being stopped; and who could blame them? Special interest groups such as F.A.I.R (Federation for American Immigration Reform) seemingly make sure that the politicians are always right there to remind the American people how dangerous immigration is. On top of that the media helps to remind America as well. In another recent news article the author writes about some of the many problems associated with Illegal Immigration. One such problem being that some illegal immigrants coming to America might be criminals. Furthermore, The Article starts off with the shocking fact that a small family of Illegal Immigrants was decapitated recently, most likely because they probably were not able to repay the debt accrued by them passing into the United States (consequences). Not only does this article make it appear that it is better for America to stop immigration, but it makes it appear that it is better for the immigrant if America seals its golden gates even tighter. This makes it seem morally O.K. for America to turn away thousands of needy people each year and Americans, for the most part, love to stick to the moral high ground, it is seemingly good for America to be moral.
Is it really moral to turn away so many needy people though? It would appear that stopping immigration in its tracks might have saved the poor family previously mentioned, but had it been easier to get to America’s fertile soil in the first place, then perhaps that family would never have had to resort to the desperate measures that lead to their deaths. Many Mexicans, for example, end up living in shanty towns just south of the boarder unable to feed their families and desperate for a job while work that could be given by the richest nation in the world lies just beyond their reach (Lacey). This does not seem moral, but does bring up the idea that America needs to put a human face on the people that want to immigrate to her fertile land before she can ever claim to be a moral nation for hungry Mexicans are just as human as hungry Americans. One prime example of this needed human face is a man named Juan Lopez. Juan has his own story regarding the hardships and stigmas attached to being an Illegal Mexican Immigrant to the United States. Lopez was brought to California as a child by his father with no English skills and no idea what to expect when he got there. Against all odds Lopez was able to go to school and graduate from high school, learning the English skills that he needed in order to find some sort of job. Juan supports his family, all of whom are United States Citizens and still the U.S. Government is trying to send him back to Mexico apparently taking the stance that a whole family of U.S. citizens with no support is better for America than having one Mexican north of the boarder who is willing to support them. Is this a stance that Americans want to take though? It certainly does not seem that a family on welfare is better than a Mexican at work, but still the government is making it nearly impossible to stay and work in America legally (Lopez). His story in mind though, Juan still considers him self to be one of the lucky ones for at least he is able to be in America and feed his family now, regardless of what the future brings.
Why though, would the American government take the stand that sending Juan back to Mexico is good; probably because it wants to protect American jobs. This being the case though does not seem to be a good enough reason. America needs the influx of cheap labour that immigration brings. The farming industry, for example, thrives in California only because it is able to hire cheap immigrant work. If cheap Mexican labour were to be robbed from the American labour market how would many businesses survive? One answer to this question was discovered during the early 1990’s when the INS began to more forcibly enforce immigration laws. The textile industry in Los Angeles began to have such a shortage of workers that it had to apply to the government to obtain special visas as so that it could import thousands of workers from the Philippines making the point clear that the American jobs that the INS are saving are not jobs that Americans want (Lacey). In other words, Americans need immigrants to do the dirty work so that the economy can stay strong.
America should open some warmer eyes to the 7 million immigrants (INS) living in her borders and to the benefits of having an influx of new people. Aside from the economic benefit created by immigration, it would be nice if one day America could stair at the world, strait-faced, threw the eyes of liberty and tell the countless other nations to send her their tired, hungry, and poor and truly mean it. Until that day the many immigrants waiting just south of the boarder will continue to struggle to feed their families as American politicians continue to convince Americans that it’s better to seal the door to the Land of Immigrants.
1. (INS) INS: Executive Summary Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 7-10-04 http://uscis.gov/graphics/shared/aboutus/statistics/2000ExecSumm.pdf
2. (Lacey)Lacey, Dan: The Essential Immigrant. New York: Hippocrene Books. 1990
3. (Lopez) Lopez, Juan: Interview with Shawn Nelsen. Plainspeaking. July 10th, 2004.
4. (Ashcroft) Sunnucks, Mike: Ashcroft announces new funds for illegal immigration prosecution. The Business Journal. 7-10-04: American City Business Journals Inc. http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2004/07/05/daily58.html
5. (consequences) The Washington Times: The consequences of illegal immigration. The Washington Times. Published June 5, 2004. News World Communications, Inc. http://www.washingtontimes.com
© All words and music written and owned by Shawn Nelsen.