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Today I received another one of those email chain letters forwarded by an “apolitical” friend that probably isn’t aware that the “popular wisdom” she is promoting is “latent racism” in disguise. An excerpt of that letter (available in full here) with my response follows:

Newspapers simply won’t publish letters to the editor which they either deem politically incorrect (read below) or which does not agree with the philosophy they’re pushing on the public. This woman wrote a great letter to the editor that should have been published; but, with your help it will get published via cyberspace!
(…)
Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer.
(…)
And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I’m sorry, that’s not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900’s deserve better than that…

 
The problem with this example is that in the late 19th to early 20th century (~1880 to ~1920), the U.S. opened it’s borders to attract more people to move to America to bolster its burgeoning Industrialization that had just seen the creation of the telephone, the automobile, the electrification of our cities and the airplane industry. Increasing the size of the U.S. workforce so dramatically at that time helped America’s development enormously in the wake of World War I (called “The Great War” at that time, before we had sense enough to start numbering them) and prepared us for the “World War II” that we didn’t know was coming.

By contrast, the United States has grown increasingly isolationist, closing its borders and alienating itself from the outside world. Mexico, the country from which we receive the greatest number of immigrants (both legal and not) has a population of nearly 108 million people, yet the United States issues only 50,000 permanent visas (apx .04% of the population) annually. And due to the cost and excessive restrictions placed on those visas, only the wealthiest and well-connected Mexican citizens are able to obtain them. Most Mexican citizens looking for work in America are far too poor to acquire these visa through regular channels, so they are left with no other option than to risk their lives by sneaking across 50 miles of desert with only as much water and personal belongings as they can carry, then hope they aren’t shot, die of thirst/heatstroke, or bitten by one of the many rattlesnakes or scorpions littering the badlands between Mexico and the U.S.. In other instances, guides called “coyotes”… typically drug smugglers… promise to smuggle them into the country for a price, only to be left to die locked in the back of an 18-wheeler baking in the hot Texas sun.

Because we’ve made entering our country so difficult with borders in near lockdown, those who sneak across, come to stay… permanently. And because they know they probably will not be able to sneak back in if they go back home, often bring their entire families with them or else would likely never see them again.

There is something sinfully wrong with blaming illegal immigrants for a problem we ourselves created. Unlike Ellis Island at the turn of the century where we welcomed millions of immigrants into our country… immigrants that assembled Model-T’s on Ford’s assembly line, patrolled our streets as policemen and built the skyscrapers of The Empire State… whom we allowed to travel back to their homelands without fear of not being able to re-enter the country, we’ve now become more isolationist than ever before. Between being terrorized on a near daily basis by our own government, to fear of the possibility of terrorists entering our country, to plain old ‘mericun racism that dislikes anyone that doesn’t speak English, the United States has rolled up the welcome mat and rescinded Lady Liberty’s pledge: “Give us your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to breath free“.

History has shown what happens to countries that isolate themselves from the outside world: China, once the inventor of gun powder, rocket propulsion and from whom Marco Polo introduced “spaghetti” to Italy after visiting in 1275, built The Great Wall of China (in mid 1300’s), cut itself off from the outside world, and quickly became one of the poorest and technologically under-developed nations on the planet until reopening its doors and allowing the outside world back in during the latter half of the 20th century. Ditto for the Soviet Union behind “the iron curtain” and East Germany behind The Berlin Wall. All of these nations fell into economic, scientific and cultural decay after cutting themselves off from the outside world. While nations like the U.S., with its open borders and welcoming of immigrants grew from “a minor agricultural state” of mostly farmers to one of the great global super-powers in a span of just 50 years.

But today we seem to be following in the path of early China, Russia and East Germany.

The solution to our immigration problem with Mexico may not be *tighter* borders, but in fact *freer* ones. Increased security and tighter identification to protect us from “evil-doers” (as President Bush likes to call them) installed at a handful of freely crossable border “checkpoints”. By making the border easier to cross but only at select points would allow us to control the flow of exactly who enters our country and why. (right now, we have no idea who/where these people are that are sneaking in illegally.) And the ability to cross back and forth without fear of not being allowed to return gives immigrants less reason to stay permanently or bring their entire families with them. Coyote’s… the inhuman traffickers that prey on human misery… would be put out of business. Companies that believe they can abuse their immigrant workers because they know they have no legal recourse, would likewise be forced to behave responsibly.

But instead, we have a bunch of bureaucrats and closet racists that play on our darkest fears in hopes of turning what was once the freest, most scientifically and culturally advanced nation on the planet, and turn us into an East German gulag, locked behind an Iron Curtain, where science is frowned upon and “economic development” means raising the price of oil.

Every illegal immigrant does not have to be made a U.S. citizen with this solution. For those illegal immigrants already working/living in this country that aren’t about to “commute” to/from Mexico every day and wish to stay in the U.S., they can be assigned “work permits” that only need be renewed every year in order to stay and work in this country. Thus rendering moot the “rewarding criminals” argument that rallies Conservatives on this issue.

Wanna spread an opinion about immigration and the future of our nation? Please forward THIS story. Not the xenophobic one.

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