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Guest Contributor @TCC_Grouchy
If you are one of the people who think that President Trump’s Executive Order to restrict travel from six Muslim-majority countries is the right thing to do, I have some bad news for you. This E.O. falls short of what is needed regarding our immigration system and national security. While it should be noted that I do not have all the answers, and am no immigration or policy expert, I am confident that the following would help the United States and its citizenry.
Before we begin, however, it is incumbent upon all of us to understand that there is no right to immigrate to the United States. There are a lot of people in other countries that are in a bad situation. And while it is human nature to feel for them, and to even be charitable toward them, they still do not have a right to immigrate here. It is a privilege that is allowed at the discretion of our government. If you have a problem understanding this simple concept, I can only offer you a trip to Mexico without proper documentation as an example of just how kind our government is to immigrants (both legal and especially illegal).
As the political left contended throughout the election season, our immigration system does need to be “fixed.” But it needs to be fixed in a very different manner than they have been trying to dictate to us. All immigration should be temporarily halted, stay three exceptions. Those three exceptions are as follows:
During this temporary stoppage of immigration, we need our legislators to design a new immigration system that allows the U.S. to be more selective about who enters our country and for what purpose. As this new system is devised, there are some points that should not be negotiable. For example, every person admitted to the U.S. needs to be completely self-sufficient. No immigrant should be allowed to use government entitlement programs (Food Stamps, Welfare, Medicaid, etc.) for a period of no less than a certain number of years (I suggest five years as a minimum, but am not opposed to an even longer period). It goes without saying that illegal immigrants should not be allowed access to any government programs. This will act as a disincentive to encourage them to return to their country of origin or to remain there to begin with. We also need to effort to identify overstayed visas, work permits, etc. and send these individuals back to their originating country. If they wish to return to the U.S. legally, they can apply like every other immigrant applying for admission.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for the sovereignty and safety of our nation that our borders be secured and our immigration laws be enforced. It is also important to our unique American culture. While not applicable to all present-day immigrants, I miss the desire of past generations of immigrants to assimilate into our culture instead of trying to change the United States into the country from which they came. I’m not sure when, or even how, the gratitude of immigrants of generations past became the government benefit-gouging of ungrateful immigrants present, but attitudes are certainly not the same as when my grandparents came through Ellis Island.
My grandmother, born in Barcelona, Spain, was told by her mother while approaching the dock in New York, “we are in America now, no more Spanish. Only English from now on.” I can’t imagine how hard that must have been to follow through on. But it was their dedication to total immersion into American culture that made them successful immigrants. They wanted to be Americans. It meant something more to them. Maybe it was the fact that there was no government check for them to collect. They knew that they had the opportunity to either make it on their own or not. Exactly what the Founders had in mind, equal opportunity, not equal outcome.
I was a teenager before I knew that my grandparents weren’t born in the United States. It just wasn’t spoken of in our family. My grandparents had long been naturalized citizens. My grandfather (born in Germany) had even enlisted in the Army and earned a Bronze Star during World War II, another fact that I didn’t know as a boy. Following his time in the Army, he was stricken with polio. He lost most of the use of his right arm and left leg. He still managed to become a successful businessman and a scratch golfer. I remember him performing maintenance on their cars. He had to improvise just to use hand tools, but he always found a way.
As a child, I grew up in the Dade and Broward County communities of South Florida during the 70s. There was a lot happening in the world of immigration during this time in South Florida. Cubans were still fleeing the Castro regime and making their way to Florida in droves. If it could float, they tried to ride it to the U.S. But these, and subsequent Cubans were not of the same mindset as the first wave of Cubans who escaped the communist dictatorship in the 50s and early 60s. This new wave, from the mid-60s to present day, didn’t try to assimilate into our culture. They are the ones responsible for the Little Havana community that has sprawled from downtown Miami westward. It is a “neighborhood” that has five zip codes, two area codes, and a population over 76,000. People who want to recreate Cuba instead of assimilating into American culture. People who expect government benefits instead of an opportunity to work, like the previous generation of Cuban immigrants.
Don’t get me wrong, we all have a heritage to be proud of, but first and foremost, we are Americans, or should be aspiring to be Americans. I represent only the second generation born in the U.S. on my mother’s side of the family. I had to learn Spanish in high school even though I had a grandmother and great grandmother who were fluent. But you would never have known by listening to them talk. Both sported more of a New York accent (that still comes out in me when with my mother’s family) than a Spanish accent. This is the kind of effort and pride in country I want to see from the people granted the privilege of coming to our great nation. Our country may not be perfect, but I can’t think of another country in which I’d prefer living.
In closing, I want to stress that my thinking doesn’t stem from hatred or bigotry, but from the standpoint of preserving this great nation, both culturally and financially. We can, and should, have immigration in the United States. It needs to be done with purpose and compassion, for immigrants, and even more importantly, American citizens. Having a stable, defined immigration system, with borders that are secured and laws that are enforced, and immigrants that want to be a part of our culture instead of a part of our entitlement system, is imperative to a healthy nation.