As in any election year politicians pander to their support bases and there has been a lot of chatter about immigrants being a great source of problems.
For example, Romney got up on high horse the other day about self deportation and I think this article in Fox Latino did a pretty good job of unhorsing his argument so to speak.
This being said I hold that we cannot allow immigrants to enter the US without limits due to the social costs and because there is a small, but growing segment of that demographic that goes right onto welfare without working.
It’s important to remember that before the 1930s neither Americans nor immigrants had any benefits and therefore mass waves of immigration did not cost the US much money rather helped build the country via low cost labor.
I’m not suggesting that we go backwards in time rather that social benefits exist now and cost money so whatever the approach one has to be able to pay for such benefits.
In this regard it is not the moral or financial responsibility of the US to take care of people just because their home countries will not. So rather than indicate that the US is racist and insensitive for not wishing to support women that use children to gain citizenship that do not work and have no intention of working – ask the question why the governments in their home countries won’t take care of them.
Take Mexico for example, they badly treat Central American immigrants to their country and their own poor, yet see fit to lambaste us.
In many regards Mexico has exported their social problems and the immoral treatment of their own poor to the US who then often wire money back to Mexico serving to stimulate their economy.
Now on the issue of using children to establish residency one must make a strong distinction between those immigrants that come here to work and then have kids as a natural progression of life versus those that use kids to get into the country and then never work, but use the social benefits.
The former, in my estimation are quite welcome as they embody the American dream and add value; however, the latter should be denied entry as if the practice is to continue then one is encouraging some immigrants globally to game our system.
It’s unclear why the poor are so badly treated in their home countries. As for Latin America perhaps it’s cultural and a result of how Spain and Portugal colonized the region.
One time in Lima, I was asked why the US and Canada had done so much better economically than Latin America to which I responded that I didn’t know nor had I ever thought about it.
I was told it was because England always wanted to do commerce back and forth while Spain just took resulting in robust back and forth commerce never taking off.
Perhaps there’s a cultural reason why as well due to a much more heavily embedded class system in LatAm.
Take the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, versus the second wealthiest man – Bill Gates.
Slim apparently does not give much to charity and said he can best help people by employing them.
Gates on the other hand has not only employed and enriched a great many, but he has also given billions to charity.
So perhaps because there is less of a class system in the US people tend not to look down on those with less as much as in LatAm.
And if the US is good at one thing it’s charity and not just rich people – a great many in the US donate to charity.
This being said I think it’s important to remember that the US has been built on the backs of immigrants something indelibly ingrained into the American psyche and well documented in some classic American novels that most read in high school.
Even though fiction the two novels below do a pretty good job of depicting the struggles faced by immigrants and migrants alike.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck discussed the struggle of Okies during the Great Depression working in the fields in California interestingly enough a torch Cesar Chavez picked up after WWII and a story quite applicable to some immigrants today given the heavily Mexican migrant work force.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair discussed the plight of Lithuanian immigrants working in unsanitary and unsafe conditions in a meat processing plant in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century.
Those that are heavily against all forms of immigration are ignoring the toil, determination and courage of their ancestors which without the US would not have been built nor would it be the great nation it is today.
Shall we throw away the motto on the original Seal of the United States of America adopted by Congress in 1782?
E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one
And if you forget or throw away the very thing that enabled the US to be great then what does this portend for our future?
There’s no shortage of immigrant contributions to the US.
50% of the workforce during the industrial revolution was comprised of immigrants and their children and if you add their grandchildren the number rises to 66%.
And it goes on and on….
Immigration in the US needs a moderate and honest approach and above all one that doesn’t break the bank.
Perhaps we need to re-emulate the forward thinking of our founding fathers and get away from the short-term thinking that has plagued the country as of late whether this has been in business, personal or in step with election cycles.
I’ll close the article with something that all immigrants should read if they haven’t and perhaps many Americans should reread.
What embodies the struggle of immigrants seeking freedom and a fresh start more than the inscription inside the base of The Statue of Liberty?
The New Colossus – Emma Lazarus – 1883
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!"
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"