People migrate to the U.S. to escape violence, oppression and poverty. They also have a desire to improve their lives, to work, contribute to a community, and hopefully insure that their children have a better future, a goal familiar to parents everywhere. They come in the pursuit of happiness.
Not unlike citizens, most succeed in being able to provide for their basic needs. Many even prosper, and some fall short in certain areas and depend on the social safety net which did not exist 60 years ago.
Then, both citizens and immigrants had to work hard to provide for themselves and their family. Some now argue that only citizens should be provided assistance when their efforts fall short.
Many who migrated legally were fortunate to have qualified because of sponsorships, quotas or specials provisions not available to all. Those with means could obtain assistance to complete the paperwork and navigate the instructions in an unfamiliar language. Some of the fortunate migrants now argue that those not so fortunate are undeserving.
Many immigrants, if they didn’t commit any crime and kept a low profile, were able to become part of a community. The possibility of being deported is and was an incentive to obey the laws.
We have been told that the focus of immigration enforcement would be directed toward criminals. The reality is that enforcement is driven by numbers and to reach the numbers, enforcement goes after the low hanging fruit. Occasionally someone is apprehended whose footprint in the community is such that influential people will speak out on their behalf. This happened recently in the City of Albany. Others, just as worthy, work, provide for their family, patronize local businesses and otherwise maintain a low profile, may be apprehended in the night with no one of influence to speak on their behalf.
Do immigrants take American jobs? Recent suggestions have been made that immigration policy should be focused more on the better educated. However, the better educated will and do compete for the jobs that American citizens want or hold. Merely to ask the question implies that some people are more entitled to a job than others regardless of their talents or willingness to work competitively. Immigrants will often do the work that American labor will not. They are hungrier and jobs become available to those who are willing to work the hardest. No matter one’s wishes, there is no right to any job that one is not willing to learn and work hard to meet its requirements.
Employers should not have to seek approval from any government agency to hire the person that they feel is best qualified to do the job. The money they earn and spend on rent, clothing, food and transportation fuels the economy and benefits all.
While there are valid concerns regarding border security, assertions that hordes of murderers, rapists and other nefarious people are seeking entry is but a cover for bigotry, racial animosity, or an irrational fear of anyone viewed as different from oneself. Our security will not and cannot be 100 percent. We might just as well disarm all of our police until we are sure not a single police officer is of an unstable mind.
Far removed from border security is the issue of children brought to America illegally. Most have little or no connection to any other country. Educated in our classrooms, they have the same aspirations as their classmates. This country has invested in their education. A great many Americans agree that it would be cruel to deport them or to deport their parents. It is equally cruel to perpetuate their uncertainty.
Polls indicate significant support for resolution of this issue. There is no reason action should be coupled with any other immigration policy. The taking of human hostages is extortion.
We all bleed when we are cut. The principles that are conducive to peace include honesty, integrity, truth, justice, and personal freedom. These are fundamental to all people. We all have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which includes the right to be somewhere.
William P. McMillen