“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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – Emma Lazarus
America is a collection of people wishing simply for a place in which they are free to worship as they hear Him, pay for themselves and their family, and help others along the way. That is her beauty. Since our beginning, as people lined the floors of Ellis Island, we tried to determine what matrix should be used when determining what it takes to be American.
“This is not just a debate about policy. It’s about People. It’s about men and women and young people who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American Story.” – Barack Obama
As I looked at the issue of immigration, I became aware of a dark truth at the heart of it, one our leaders are too politically correct to admit, one I am hesitant to mention about myself, but one I feel obliged to share before I offer up any findings. For indeed, I have a bias I am having difficulty overcoming.
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” – Leviticus 19:34
Maybe it’s because I live in California, spending 3 1/2 hours commuting to and from work, circling parking lots to find a space, them painting the lines ever closer each year. Maybe it’s because I am forced to sit on hold forever because all representatives are ‘assisting other callers,’ any new house built is only 8 feet from the one next to it, or maybe it’s because our class sizes, cost of concert tickets, lines at the bank, waits for doctor appointments, cost of water, all of it has grown. I can’t even go to Disneyland, the crowds are miserable there. But in any case, this issue is hard for me to look at dispassionately because there is a truth I can’t escape. I don’t want more people here.
“I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.” – Thomas Jefferson
I realize it may be ungodly to feel as I do, and I will try to ignore the man who wishes for less people on the freeway, but you should know the truth before I begin, a bias that may have influenced my findings. For, when it comes to immigration policy, if I am asked who should be allowed to join us, the truth is I am immediately reluctant. There, I said it out loud. I will now attempt to write a dispassionate view, to look at the issue through the lens of one who does not live in this world and ask, ‘When looking at the best way for a society to function together as one people, what should happen when someone wishes to set up residence in your land?’
“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Here’s how one man, yours truly, sees our best path forward, and how it would relate to immigration:
- Health and Education Savings allotments by the US federal government provided directly and only to American citizens.
- Robust federal border enforcement to curb illegal immigration, coupled with timely and efficient legal immigration policy.
- Path to citizenship including demonstrating proficiency in the English language, 3 consecutive years of gainful employment in which you paid taxes exceeding the nation’s annual Health Savings allotment, no felony arrests for 7 years, and an oath sworn to the Constitution of the United States.
“Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Ensuring that our federal government is empowered to police our borders, approving citizenship only to those who can contribute at least as much as they take out, removing “charity” from the role of government, eliminating our trade gap, and balancing our budget is the proper way forward. If we mandate that any monies for health and education from the federal government go directly to American citizens (not to the States), tax all people who are here to pay for our system, and restrict federal “aid” programs only to health and education savings accounts for our citizens, we will have a system that treats an alien like any other citizen in regards to taxes, but forces citizenship before receiving any benefits. Coupling border enforcement, a path to citizenship requiring continuous paying of taxes to the society, and the requirement that no federal money go to undocumented aliens, is all that is needed to encourage the assimilation of those living among us. A person who enters legally is welcomed as an American, receiving the promise that a Health Savings account, paid for by themselves and other Americans, will be theirs for as long as they shall live. On the other hand, a person who enters illegally will be taxed to pay for health and education savings accounts, but receive nothing. A child born of them will find that, as an American citizen by birth, they receive HSA and ESA allotments to attend school, see a doctor when needed, and participate in the American dream.
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
As I look at this issue, the real problem is not immigration – it is our broken system. As we insist on borrowing money on our unborn to support people who don’t work, as we enact government subsidization programs that target certain individuals, knowing full well that such policies increase the cost of living for the community at large, as we mandate that any company hiring an American pay Social Security, Medicare, and payroll taxes to support ‘our system,’ then begin to realize that those of us who work can no longer afford to pay for ourselves, those of us who hire now wish to employ non-Americans, and as more debt is given to our children to support the millions of people who come here ‘seeking a better way of life,’ we rightly are disgusted. But our problem, by and large, is not with immigration. Our problem is Socialism.
“The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” – Article IV, Section 2, US Constitution
If we kept the amount provided by the federal government the same for each citizen in whatever State, ensured only American citizens received these benefits, eliminated “aid” from the lexicon of government, yet required all people here to pay taxes… if we resume our proper course, we will again realize that our nation is greatly served by immigrants, both by those who put in more than they take out and attain citizenship, and those who realize they cannot become citizens, but pay taxes anyhow in hopes their children will get a better life as a result.
“What we need to do is to have a sensible approach to immigration. It needs to be open. It needs to be non-dogmatic and non-bigoted. We need to be firm but reasonable in the way we deal with the problem of illegal immigration. And we need to try to get as many of our immigrants who want to do so to become citizens as quickly as possible so that the American people will all see that this is a part of the process of American history, which is a good one for our country.” – Bill Clinton