Recently, I read an article entitled, “Why, as an immigrant, I am not outraged by Trump’s immigration proposal”. The clickbait worthy title aside, I found the very notion that a fellow immigrant would not feel outraged by a reduction in overall immigration to the United States selfish, abhorrent and wholly lacking in compassion. I commented on the article posted on LinkedIn:
With all due respect, Congress should try achieving meaningful immigration reform through a comprehensive (business and family) approach. The “clickbait worthy” title of your article hurts the cause of hard working advocates of comprehensive immigration reform. Immigrants cannot have their focus fragmented by ideas that choose to further one group by compromising another.
We cannot allow the likes of the author of the aforementioned article, however well meaning, dilute, disregard and disparage what this Country has stood for, for the better part of 240 years. America was founded on an idea that “all men are created equal” and, as famously edited by Benjamin Franklin to indelibly transform our collective consciousness, hold these truths to be “self-evident” and not merely sacred and undeniable.
Unfortunately, it is all too easy to accept the populist argument that a properly regulated immigration system that lays emphasis on merit and quality is the panacea. Not everyone who made it to this country came here because they were millionaires, Nobel Prize winners, Grammy nominees, etc. Several made it to this country as refugees, asylees and family members of permanent residents and citizens.
We are all immigrants and proud to belong to this nation of immigrants. However, the policies of various administrations have turned a once vibrant nation of immigrants into a Country bordering on xenophobia. As a popular president once noted,
“The famous words of Emma Lazarus on the pedestal of the Statute of Liberty read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Until 1921 this was an accurate picture of our society. Under present law it would be appropriate to add: “as long as they come from Northern Europe, are not too tired or too poor or slightly ill, never stole a loaf of bread, never joined any questionable organization, and can document their activities from the past two years.”
A good way to illustrate the importance of leaving as is and perhaps even expanding current immigration numbers is to look at a sample of immigrants who entered the U.S. not as prodigies, or meritorious scholars, but as refugees and asylees, or as parents and children. Let me give you three examples to help you see what I see. The first is a Kenyan scholar who entered the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa. He came here to study; had a brief relationship and married an American Citizen. They had a son. The scholar is practically unknown to most of us, but his son went on to become the 44th President of the United States.
Madeline Albright came to this country as a child. Her family was fleeing her native Czechoslovakia and sought political asylum in this country. She went on to become the first woman to hold the Office of Secretary of State of these United States.
Abdul Fatah Jandali is a Syrian migrant. Not much is publicly known about him. But, his son, whom he gave up for adoption, became the founder and CEO of one of the most valuable companies ever. I am of course referring to Steve Jobs and Apple. I am sure there are several others you may know to add to this list. If we had kept these people and their families out because they did not fit the “meritorious class”, we would be significantly poorer as a nation. A phrenological prescription to fixing our immigration laws would be a sham. I believe immigrants have little right, except within reason, to judge whether other immigrants are “good enough” to be let in. Let us remember that we are all immigrants and it is in the best interest of this nation that we learn to be a tad more compassionate and accepting of our fellow human beings.
“The interaction of disparate cultures, the vehemence of the ideals that led the immigrants here, the opportunity offered by a new life, all gave America a flavor and a character that make it as unmistakable and as remarkable to people today as it was to Alexis de Tocqueville in the early part of the nineteenth century.” ― John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants