Immigration is certainly a topic which will provoke a response - especially in today's political climate. I have strong political feelings, of which, I would like to begin sharing a few of my strongest. Our President has said much about immigration, through the campaign and recently, with his controversial ban on Muslim's entering the United States. He also campaigned quite strongly about building a wall separating Mexico and the United States.
Next week I will begin sharing my ideas on both the President's positions and offering, what I feel, are more practical and economical solutions than a ban and a wall.
But first, I want to share a story about immigration I wrote several years ago. It is actually an excerpt from Volume II, of Life Through These Eyes, my second book. After reading this story, I hope it will make you THINK - and come back for more next week of "My thoughts on immigration."
Here is "Send them back. They're illegal"
“The greatest good you can do for another is not to just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Send e’m back, they wear funny clothes!
Send e’m back, they can’t speak our language!
Send e’m back, they have a different religion!
Send e’m back, they have foreign diseases!
No doubt, Powhatan, the Algonquian Indian Chief, and many of his followers thought and said these very words. For the record, they were directed at the English – in 1607. I think I still hear these words today. Listen, do you? Oh yes, this story is about immigration.
No personal opinions though. Because, my opinions are just that – personal. However, I hope it will make you think. Think about your relatives and why they came to a strange and different land…America.
My family came from Belgium and Germany. Legally, I think. It doesn’t really make any difference now. That was over a hundred years ago. But, what if it was last week? At one time, immigration was mainly a historical topic...at least for me, to be taught and analyzed in the classroom. While living in Virginia, it became personal. We lived in a city that was a political, religious, and ethnic melting pot. Those years opened my eyes to ethnic diversity.
I met adults and children who fled unimaginable suffering, inhumanity, poverty, and political persecution. Those years also opened my eyes to “Americans” who made an art form of using the system. Those who can work and should work, but choose not to work. I had a friend who worked for the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). They raided an open-air vegetable market in D.C., looking for illegal immigrants. As they were loading the “illegals,” he noticed a large crowd gathering. He said to them,with a tone of funny sarcasm, “Go on in, I think they’re hiring now.” Someone in the crowd said, “F... no, I ain’t working for no S... wages!” ‘Mike, I was so angry I felt like arresting the crowd. Maybe we were deporting the wrong group.”
After retiring from education, I sold BMW's while Sandra finished her tour of duty in education. One of my customers was a young man from Mexico. One day he said, “Mike, I love Mexico, but down there you work hard and get nothing. Here, you work hard and get something. I work hard for my family, here and in Mexico. One day, I want them to have what I have, in my new country.”
At that point, I didn’t care if he was illegal or not. Over the years, I knew several immigrants who became citizens. I found out: Obtaining visas, sponsors, application fees, Green Cards, permanent resident status, and finally citizenship takes years and cost thousands. Entering illegally…can cost you your life. Imagine selling everything you own to pay smugglers to get you across the border. The lucky ones make it. Some die trying. Why do they risk everything? “Here, you work hard and get something!” Using my best Nixon imitation: “Let me make one thing perfectly clear,” illegal immigration is just that – illegal.
But we better find a way to deal with it, and fast. Forget mass deportation. It doesn’t work. Yes, “illegals” strain our economy, schools, and health care system. But, so does “can work and won’t work.” Think - you’re living where you do now, in extreme poverty, and under a brutal corrupt government. Yet in Virginia, there was promise and hope. But, you have to sneak across a dangerous border. What would you do? Me… “These boots are made for walking.” Or running real fast!
Through these eyes, we must find a way to help the illegal immigrants become legal. We have no other realistic choice. Skills, desire, and work ethics are there. We must streamline the legal process for admittance and citizenship. Democratic and Republican lawmakers, put down your swords!
Just once, do what is right, without checking your political playbook. Maybe it’s our time – “to not only share our riches, but help them reveal their own.’
If I had not lived in a diverse environment, I would have lived my life one dimensional.
That story was written in 2007 - 10 years ago. I am not asking you to agree or disagree - just THINK! Yes, much has changed in the world since 2007. You have changed. I have changed. And, my next two stories will explain why WE must change our approach toward immigration. A wall will not work. A Muslim ban will not work. Nonetheless, I will explain what will work.
And, that's the way I see it. Until next time,
Comments: Please "click" on the comments section on my Home page. I welcome your opinions.
“Mike: Thank you for the copy of your book “Life through these Eyes.”
I am honored that you gave me one of the first copies. I have had the opportunity to read several chapters today and must say that I am impressed. You are a very talented writer. Congratulations my friend! Best, Andy”
On the whole, these essays encourage us to nurture our better selves—and who among us doesn’t need an occasional nudge toward greater kindness, tolerance, and appreciation of the things that really matter in life?