I am proud to be an immigrant; honored to be American by choice. Legal immigration is part of the DNA of a nation founded and built by immigrants. Unless you are a pure blood Native American, you are the product of immigrants, even if you are a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I embraced the American ideal of achievement based on your ability and hard work as opposed to the neo-socialist nanny state of my native Canada. My path to citizenship involved crafting my career to achieve the skill set needed to immigrate to America. What followed was years of filing forms and dozens of trips to the then Immigration & Naturalization Service and its successor the U.S. Citizenship and immigration Service. This was not easy, convenient or even at times logical but it was the process established by my new home. Forms were diligently completed and the legal system embraced. The day I raised my right hand and took the oath of citizenship was among the proudest of my life, second only to the day I married my wife.
As an immigrant I truly understand what attracts millions to aspire to not only move to America but to embrace the culture that defines being American, I feel it in my heart. America needs immigrants to sustain growth and to enrich the very fiber of the country. Yet the foundation of any immigration policy must be one of the core elements of America, the rule of law. As an immigrant, there was much of the process I found to be nonsensical, the test of American History so simple and uninspired no idiot with a pulse could fail; the one sentence of monosyllable words test of English competence. But this process was defined by law, American law, and it was the first test of citizenship to be passed. The American People must define our nation’s immigration policy, not those who aspire to join the American family.
While the debate has been dominated by radicals on both sides of the issue, fundamental immigration reform must be affected for both the economic and national security interest of the nation. The core principles below would provide the foundation for sensible and sustainable immigration reform.
- Respect for the Rule of Law: At the core of citizenship is respect for the rule of law; any immigrant must fully embrace and respect those laws even if they do not agree with them. If ones first act upon entering the United States is to violate its national laws, that person has disqualified themselves from the privilege of making America their home. Any form of amnesty, direct or back door, is a slap in the face to all of us who have followed the legal path to enter America. Further, those illegal’s who have been in America for years have violated our laws by either working “off the books” or by using falsified or stolen identities to maintain a legal appearance. Those who violate our laws must never be rewarded for their illegal activities and should be deported and barred from reentry into the United States.
- The Defense of the Boarder is one of the Fundamental Responsibilities of Government: The current administration has failed in its obligation to secure the nations boarders. To the south illegal migrants pass through the boarders with little difficulty. To the north world’s largest undefended border with Canada is utterly unprotected with little more than warning signs in most places. Given Canada’s open immigration policy, particularly from countries who wish America harm, necessitates securing that border in the same manner as our border with Mexico. If the Department of Homeland Security cannot adequatly secure the nations boarders, then the assistance of the Department of Defense must be sought.
- Immigrants must Embrace American Culture & Institutions: A nation is defined by a common culture, language and legal structure. Those who wish to come to America must in their hearts embrace these before seeking to live on our shores. Those who hate America and what it stands for must not be allowed to abuse a welcoming nation to do it harm. Competence in the English language is essential to a successful immigrant experience and must be mastered before arriving at the gates. Political activism and dissent are at the foundation of our fundamental rights, but these must be done within the rule of law and our political system. In short, America, love it or stay home.
- All Immigrants Should be on a Path to Citizenship: We want those who come to America to embrace the American experience and seek to be a permanent part of our society. Temporary work permits simply allow American corporations to bring foreign workers to America, often at wages well below paid to American workers and use their temporary status to keep them from complaining. If a legitimate need exists for bring a foreign worker to America, they should be brought in on a single immigrant track and subject to the same requirements and controls. The concept of “Permanent Resident” status, the so called Green Card should be ended. Foreigners should not be allowed to reside in America indefinably without becoming citizens and fully participating in American Society. At the end of a single 10 year residency period (the valid period of a current Green Card) an immigrant has not become a citizen, they should return to their country of origin. A permanent sub class of residents does nothing to elevate the nation as a whole.
- Knowledge of American History, Government and the English Language is Required to be a Productive American: All immigrants should be expected to have the same understanding of American History and Government as is expected of an American high school graduate (leave aside what high school graduates actually know). In the same way competence in the English language is essential to take part in the public discourse and succeed economically. Those who cannot, or will not, achieve these should not be welcomed to America.
- Multiculturalism and Hyphenated Americanism are a Cancer on the Nation: While it is fine to have pride in one’s heritage and fore fathers, at the core of citizenship is becoming an American in ones heart and soul, not only the color of the passport. One can be an American proud of their heritage, but being American must come first, last and always.
- Immigration must be Maintained at Sustainable Levels: Recognizing the danger to the very fabric of the United States, the levels of immigration must never be allowed to exceed the number of immigrants who can be effectively assimilated into American society. We must cherish and protect the melting pot of our society and its ability to bring newly arrived immigrants into our communities. To allow levels of new immigrants to overwhelm American society not only does a disservice to the immigrants themselves, it represents a danger to the future of the nation itself.
I am sure there will be many on the left and the right who will disagree with these views, such is the American way. Yet balancing the conflicting interest will require compromise. What cannot be compromised is maintaining the fundamental qualities of what it is to be an American. Many, such as the current Administration seek to place their political interests in before those of the nation. It is the responsibility of the American people to prevent this from destroying the very character of our nation.