The United Country Club of America - An Editorial Commentary on Immigration and Xenophobia
Everyday it seems there is another editorial printed in a newspaper expressing xenophobic views or blaming illegal immigrants for the demise of society. To the people writing these editorials, I ask when did the United States become an exclusive country club? If you're looking for a homogenous society to live in, Canada is nearby.
When the slaves were freed during the American Civil War, many thought society would collapse with such an influx of "undocumented" people gaining legal status. This didn't happen. Instead many of the freed slaves joined the army, fought bravely, and died to preserve this country. In fact, if you think that's all it would take to topple this great nation, perhaps you're the one lacking that good old American spirit.
On December 23, 2007, an undocumented immigrant who became a Milwaukee police officer was deported. As the INS was deporting Oscar Ayala-Cornejo, who put his life on the line everyday to save the lives of the very society that denigrated him, he said he loved the USA. Is there any greater test of dedication to this country and our principles than risking your life to be a part of it? That shows a lot more American spirit than passing a citizenship test or making birthright entitlements.
Ask yourself why Harriet Tubman is on a stamp? She broke the law. Should we lock her up and throw away the key? In history books, Ms. Tubman is honored for her heroism in standing up for what is right...which isn't always what is lawful.
Put yourself in the shoes of an undocumented immigrant. Perhaps you're familiar with the popular Bible verse: "But for the grace of God go I." Personally, I admire people who would steal bread to feed their starving families...or leave behind their homeland and everything they know. Perhaps this is the reason the United States Constitution is so amazing. It was written by such people!
In a radio address made by Ronald Reagan on Christmas, 1982, he read a letter from a US sailor to his parents. The sailor, Ordnance Man First Class John Mooney, described for his parents the rescue of 65 Vietnamese refugees with which he had been involved. Mooney wrote:
"It reminds us all of what America has always been--a place...for freedom...We have a unique society made up of cast-offs of all the world's wars and oppressions, and yet we're strong and free. We have one thing in common--no matter where our forefathers came from, we believe in freedom...I know we're crowded and we have unemployment and we have a real burden with refugees, but...I hope we always have room for one more person...looking for a place...where he doesn't have to worry about his family starving..."
Mooney described in his letter the feeling of pulling the children off the sinking boat and being greeted by cries of, "Hello America sailor! Hello freedom man!" Reagan closed his speech by saying how blessed we are to count among our gifts on Christmas the birthright of being an American.
Furthermore, undocumented immigrants, foreigners, and non-English speakers have become scapegoats for all kinds of problems--hospital closures, long lines at the bank, crowded schools, crime, gridlock, etc. Ask yourself if your opinions are based on the fear-mongering and brainwashing of politicians and the media or on fact? If you haven't seen the movie A Day Without a Mexican, please go rent it. Educate yourself before you form an opinion.
Finally, I say to the undocumented immigrants, foreigners, and non-English speakers, there are native-born Americans who support, appreciate, and acknowledge you. We do not all think the United States should be a members-only country club.