There is no greater sign of what a good and generous people Americans are than our troubles over immigration.
Were Americans a downright mean people, we would have no compunction about shipping illegal immigrants back to their countries of origin en masse. Yet that is politically unacceptable. Why? Because most of us would find it morally unacceptable, particularly for people who have been here for long time and have begun to put down roots.
Kicking out someone who has just crossed the border without our permission is another matter altogether. But plenty of Americans object even to that. If these are poor people, arriving in our prosperous country to improve their lot in life, as most of our ancestors did, who are we to object?
Full disclosure: I emigrated to America as a teenager, and became a US citizen in 1962.
While America once grew greater and better by assimilating the world’s most disparate peoples, during the past generation immigration has troubled America deeply. The US Senate’s immigration bill, far from “fixing” anything that is “broken” leaves intact the troubles’ sources. Indeed it gives the US government new powers to slice, dice, and dissimilate the American people into categories the more easily to rule us. Herewith an account of why immigration turned from an engine of strength to one of destruction.
Early America was all about immigration. Here immigrants would find more food, and more of the wherewithal of prosperity than anywhere. But they would have to pay for it by accepting unprecedented insecurity and unremitting work. Benjamin Franklin warned prospective immigrants that America is “the land of labor.” This peculiar bittersweet mixture drew self-selected millions to these shores.