Friday, December 21, 2007

When Did It Become Too Hard To Be America (repost)

With another election cycle upon us, immigration has been thrust into the forefront of the debate once again by politicians desparate to find some topic they can cling to and "convince" us they are the right candidate for the job. I will set aside the notion that a candidate's views on a single topic could be sufficient to earn our vote and focus instead on immigration itself.

When did it become too hard to be America? Our nation was built on the promise of a new life for those willing to make the sacrifice and work hard - now that cornerstone of our national identity is threatened (like so many other aspects of who we are as a nation and a people) because our "leaders" lack the vision and the desire to find a solution that works.

Of course all resources have a limit to what size population they can support, and no one will argue that public education, health care, housing, and employment are ALL issues important to everyone. However, to point the finger at illegal immigrants and lay all blame for failings of our socioeconomic infrastructure is at best ignorant and scapegoating and at worst xenophobic racism.

The difficulty in obtaining legal immigration status (the fabled Green Card) lies at the root of the problem; this process is expensive, time consuming, confusing, inconsistant, and in many cases pointless. I suggest that fixing the immigration system will do as much, if not more, to reduce illegal immigration than any border fence or Minuteman Patrol ever will.

If you dangle the promise of a better life in front of someone, then make it impossible to attain, you are no better than that guy at the zoo teasing the animals on the other side of the glass enclosures. SINCE WE FOUNDED THIS COUNTRY, we have shouted from the tallest mountains that the American Dream is for everyone who wants it to achieve. And now we make it impossible to come here to work towards that goal.

Let's make a system where an individual can apply and, within six (6) months, have a definitve answer for a reasonable fee. Currently, this process can take upwards of one year and often ends with incomplete or inaccurate results. Neither you nor I would accept this in our own lives, so why should we expect folks fleeing persecution or abject poverty, seeking to make their lives and the lives of their families better, to accept this? It makes no sense.

We can NEVER lose sight of what makes our country what it is, and we need to embrace the fundamental principles that founded the US and help make those dreams come true:

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!" cries she
With silent lips. "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!"