The Lady from New York Said We Could

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus

When it comes to immigration, we the people have been laboring under more than one misconception.

Most recently, somewhere along the line the word has gone out across Central America that the US is soft on its policies.  One wonders where in the world anyone down there could’ve gotten such an idea.  And in case no one recognizes the sarcasm in those last words, let me be plain. 

America sends mixed signals to neighboring countries regarding her intent where illegal immigration is concerned.  Even now, in the midst of this growing crisis, politics has prevented any immediate solution and has even exacerbated the problem by creating additional bureaucracy that further slows the deportation process.

And these mistaken beliefs have permeated themselves into the American psyche so much so that today, we’re hard put to come to any sound conclusion about the effectiveness of the country’s immigration policies or to make changes where necessary.

Early on in the debate, a fallacy was routinely argued that illegal immigrants took the jobs that no one else wanted.  It was never true; that Americans shunned lower paying jobs.  Americans will work where the work is but nevertheless they were stigmatized as “lazy” because employers chose to hire individuals willing to work below a customarily accepted wage.  It was a misconception that stuck and still stands today, an integral part of the overall immigration argument and one that shifts the dynamic and changes the publics overall perception of what is actually happening.

And as you look at the news coverage of angry citizens blocking the arrival of immigrants from Central America, you’d think that the “face” of the con side is mostly made up of white individuals and that they are the only ones driving the political aspects of the debate.  However, theirs is not the only political consideration.  The hope that Hispanic Americans have for their countrymen to be admitted is rooted in nationalist tendencies that they still espouse even while residing in America.  I would challenge them to think of and do what is best for their adopted nation, in spite of how hard it would be to see their own countrymen sent back home.

Even now as the country stresses over the sheer numbers and lament the plight of the children, new legislation that would speed up the process is being stalled by Latino lobbyists.

Not to mention that both sides of the debate, democrats and republicans, want votes and appreciate the power of the Latino bloc.  So their considerations are very political; always have been, always will be, and therefore are suspect.

The delusion further occurs every time we think we can have both: a safe, sound and objective immigration policy that satisfies every humanitarian consideration.  We might be able to but on the other hand, we may not.  As much as it hurts us as a nation, we have to realize that we cannot save every child in the world.  In fact, we can barely save our own.  One only need look at the level of gun violence infecting our inner cities along with the state of the nation’s public school system to realize that.

And finally, the most egregious misconception out there is that we even have an immigration policy.  I submit to you that such a thing has long ago been hijacked and what we have now is something that’s only a reasonable facsimile of its former self.  And even if it’s purely a matter of perception, it’s what’s discerned by the American people so therefore, it’s become our reality.

Illegal immigrants are proposed to be given driver’s licenses, in some instances can receive public assistance and their children can attend public schools.  Right now, there’re few punitive measures forcing people to rethink coming to America in an illegal fashion.  That’s just the hard truth of the matter.

I’m not passing judgment on people faced with hardships in their homeland who decide to migrate north for a better life; I’m just saying we can’t have both.  We want to protect our borders but we really don’t want to deport anyone, especially not children.   We’ve tried for years and all it’s done is put us in the fire of discontent that we’re experiencing today.

And that brings me to my last misconception; the one that exists because of the words at the top of the page.  What began as a statement of the benevolent intent of a relatively new nation has blossomed into blanket approval of lawless encroachment.  It’s time to right that wrong and tell the world that you can’t keep coming here like you’ve been.  The Lady with the torch from New York never truly said it was OK.  You simply misunderstood her.





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