Immigration has become a much debated topic. Not only in the U.S. but in many other countries as well. Nationalism is on the rise. Globalism is on the decline. “US” first, the rest second or none is a common anthem. It is human nature to want to protect and preserve what one has. Even if that is at the exclusion or negation of other, more needy folk. However, even with walls, there must be gates and roads in and out. That progressive changes need to be made to our existing immigration policy seems self-evident.
The mechanics of creating and maintaining a fair and equitable system is way beyond my pay grade. However, I think it is important to recognize our history, our heritage, our identity as a nation. We are a nation of immigrants. All of us. With the exception of the surviving descendants of Americas indigenous people, none of us can lay claim to being a U.S. native. Whether we are first generation immigrants or tenth generation immigrants. We’re all part of the same diverse stew.
President John F. Kennedy, in his treatise A Nation Of Immigrants, penned a number of notable quotes:
- Another way of indicating the importance of immigration to America is to point out that every American who ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants
- The interaction of disparate cultures, the vehemence of the ideals that led the immigrants here, the opportunity offered by a new life, all gave America a flavor and a character that makes it unmistakable and remarkable
- Perhaps our brightest hope for the future lies in the lessons of the past. The people who have come to this country have made America, in the words of one perceptive writer, ‘a heterogeneous race but a homogeneous nation’
- The famous words of Emma Lazarus on the pedestal of the Statute of Liberty read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Under present law it would be appropriate to add: “as long as they come from Northern Europe, are not too tired or too poor or slightly ill, never stole a loaf of bread, never joined any questionable organization, and can document their activities from the past two years
- Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience
Columbia University has provided a list of both pro and anti immigration organizations for reference to those who wish to explore the topic further. Our local Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement program provides many essential services to our Tennessee refugee community. Please donate, if you feel so moved.