Immigration

President Donald Trump is getting a lot of flack and coming back with his own defense over his comments in a meeting several days ago. The media conclusion is that “Donald Trump is a racist.” Meanwhile, the “gotcha” form of reporting that goes on these days missed the real story.

The real issue is not what particular vile word the President used. Rather, the real issue is his belief in and support of merit-based immigration. Essentially he has said more than once that America should open our boarders to the best and brightest of other countries so that we can use their knowledge and skill for our own advancement. In other words, we should take the people who could best be an asset in their own country.

In all fairness, this is the kind of thinking of an entrepreneur—take what benefits you no matter who it hurts—and that’s exactly who Donald Trump is.

But that’s not what America is, and that’s not what made America great, as Mr. Trump so often likes to say.

Instead, our country became a desirable landing place for immigrants because of the attitude expressed on the Statue of Liberty:

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!

These words come from a poem by Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) entitled “The New Colossus.” She donated the sonnet in 1883 as part of a fund-raiser for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the whole poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.

These lines are also part of the poem:

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome

None of this attitude is remotely similar to merit-based immigration.

Simply put, America has been a land of opportunity in which a poor person, with nothing but his good name and a will to work, could make something of himself. So why now should we become something else? Something resembling a robber baron or a corporate raider?

Is that what America wants to become?

Yes, President Trump uses vulgar language. He’s done so on the campaign trail and he’s done so in private moments that made their way to the public airwaves. Once again he’s said something vulgar. Big deal. This is not the story. No one has to read into his comments something about his attitude toward countries made up predominantly of people of color.

What President Trump wants is rich people or smart people or talented people who can bring their assets to America. He doesn’t want people who are trying to escape poverty or tyranny or ignorance.

But those are the people who make up America: Irish people escaping famine, Jewish people escaping pogroms, English people escaping religious persecution, Mexican people escaping poverty, Vietnamese people escaping Communist oppression, and even African-Americans escaping slavery. I’m not sure there’s ever been a wave of immigration that has involved people who weren’t looking for something better, who didn’t see America as a land of opportunity, instead of a land in desperate need of what they have to offer.

Why change now?

We shouldn’t.

The only thing we need to do is enforce the rule of law.

And therein lies the problem—both sides of the immigration question are right and wrong at the same time.

Mr. Trump is right to want immigration to be safe (vetting those who wish to live here in such a way that we aren’t bringing in terrorists, drug dealers, and other criminals; doing away with “sanctuary cities” and states; clamping down on illegal immigration; stopping serial immigration). He’s wrong to believe that stealing the best and brightest from other countries is the right way to proceed.

The Dems are right to want a solution for the children of illegal immigrants and to make people from all nations welcome. They’re wrong to do so without putting safeguards in place.

We need real immigration reform, but now there’s talk of the Dems dragging their feet so that they can win more seats during midterm elections. And there is the giant problem in our government—politics. Too many elected officials care more about retaining their position and carving out their own little power pedestals than they do serving the American people, as statesmen did once-upon-a-time.

What we’re seeing is human nature at work. We can have the best form of government on earth, but sadly, it’s still dependent upon sinners to execute their responsibilities faithfully. It’s not going to happen.

Too many people are holding out for the perfect government to solve all the problems, to answer all the questions. Not going to happen.

Our faith is misplaced if we expect a President to be better than we are.

Our greatest need is to look at ourselves and deal with the sin in our own hearts.

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4 Comments

  1. Great thoughts. I can seen not wanting to take more poor people because when the poor people came in earlier times, they came and worked and lived or died by the work of their hands. This was the land of opportunity. And all people had an equal opportunity to raise their fortunes here. But now people come and they are given education and welfare and medical benefits. So the people who come now put more of a burden on the citizens than it once did, I think. What do you think? Maybe I’m wrong. But I think California offers benefits to illegal immigrants. I’ve heard of one state…maybe Washington…that has set aside a lot of money to help illegal immigrants pay for court costs, even.

    My great objection to taking the best from other countries is that America then would get better, while the other countries will get worse. I think the best and brightest should stay in their home countries along with the poor and we should send money and services there to help them get better.

    I’m not against immigration. But I’m with you on the rule of law. People should come in legally and there should be no merit based entry. They should come in limited numbers, though, and go to work. And some if the money we now spend on health care and education for illegal immigrants should be given to other countries to help people where they are.

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful response.

      Once upon a time America had immigration quotas. Back in 1921 a law was passed to limit immigration to a percent of the population based on a recent census: “In 1921 the United States Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, which established national immigration quotas. The quotas were based on the number of foreign-born residents of each nationality who were living in the United States as of the 1910 census.” In 1924 changes were made to the law, but the idea of quotas lasted until the depression when all legal immigration was stopped. New laws came into play in 1965, and there have been changes to our immigration policy ever since.

      I can see the value in quotas in the sense that a foreign people group can’t simply move in and take over because they outnumber the current residents. Sort of like what the Europeans did to the native population 300 years ago.

      But as Christians, I’m not sure this position is defensible. It’s sort of the idea that what’s mine, is mine, and I’m not letting anyone else have it. I guess that’s the way nations work, and the government is supposed to protect us from those who would like to steal.

      I’m just not convinced that turning away people who want to escape tyranny or poverty or oppression, is the same as turning away people who want to steal our land or jobs or income.

      That some states have laws that don’t stand against illegal immigration, that actually enable and encourage it, is no reason for us to think less like Christ, I don’t think. When I was growing up, a common expression was, two wrongs don’t make a right. And I think that’s in play here. The Federal government should address what the states that break the law are doing, not tailor our immigration policy to counter those errors.

      Becky

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  2. thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • i would love to welcome you to visit my blog and see some of my poems

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