I recently wrote here and elsewhere about illegal immigration. When I look now at what I wrote then, I regret that I allowed frustration and anger to shape so much of the content and spirit of my words. I haven’t joined one of the many groups opposing illegal immigration precisely because I don’t share the reactionary political, social, and religious views and agendas they espouse. Yet, my previous words on the issue of illegal immigration sounded pretty reactionary in their own right, and they were. They were reactionary in the literal sense of reacting with frustration and anger to the demonstrations and their aftermath that occurred last month.
I believed then just as I believe now that illegal immigration is wrong and that we should stop it. For, contrary to what demonstrators last month and yesterday seem to be saying, I don’t believe that “borders are fallacies” and that nations don’t have the right to regulate who crosses their borders to visit, work, and live in them. I acknowledge that people in Mexico and other countries live desperate lives of crushing poverty from which they have every reason to want and try to escape, but I still don’t believe that this gives them the “right” they insist that they have to defy our laws in coming here to work and live or to stay here if they came illegally just because they have worked and lived here a long time and put down roots. If our country wants to let some of them stay and others come here, this should be seen as the gracious extending of a PRIVILEGE and not as acquiescence to a “right” to which they are automatically entitled. I think what bothers me most about the demonstrations last month and yesterday is that those participating in them seem to believe that it is their RIGHT to disrespect and defy our laws, and to leave their jobs and their schools to support this so-called right and to encourage others to exploit it
I’m sorry if this makes me come off as sounding like some kind of blue-memed simpleton who says “the law’s the law and we should obey it just because it is the law” but I don’t say we should enforce immigration laws just because they exist. I say we should enforce them because we can’t afford to let everyone live and work here who wants to and let them receive financial and medical assistance when we can’t even provide enough financial and medical assistance to American citizens and legal residents as it is. Our first responsibility as a nation is to American citizens and legal residents, not to the world-at large, just as every nation’s primary responsibility is to its own citizens and to others who legally reside within it.
Of course, I realize that no country exists in a vacuum, and certainly this one doesn’t. We interact with countless nations and impact and are impacted by them. And we share a porous border with a country with notoriously corrupt government, squandered resources, and impoverished people. We as a nation should be doing more to encourage Mexico to clean up its act so that its people can build good lives for themselves there instead of needing to come here to survive and prosper. But our greatest responsibility as a nation is still to provide for its own, and it should do this before trying to provide for everyone else. And I would add that the greatest responsibility of illegal immigrants here is to work together to improve conditions in their own countries instead of coming here and trying to bring all of their relatives here and insisting that they have this “right” while they wave the Mexican flag and thumb their noses at our laws and people.
If I sound like I’m getting angry again, I guess maybe I am a little as I recall the scenes from yesterday’s demonstrations and the strident words of spokespeople for the demonstrators insisting on their “rights.” But I’m going to take some deep breaths, relax, and try to open my mind to the full complexity of the situation, and open my heart to the desire that we all have as human beings to provide healthy, happy lives for ourselves and our families.
There is no perfect solution to this problem. But I hope that we can mindfully work together to forge the best solution possible. And that’s enough of my rambling on the issue of illegal immigration for the time being.
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