Knock before entering
Have you ever had your home or vehicle broken into? If you have, you know firsthand what it feels like to be violated. But domestic break-ins pale in comparison to the violation America is currently experiencing as a nation.
I recently came across a letter written by a woman citing the problems of illegal immigration; whether the letter is real or apocryphal is beside the point because it captures the essence of the immigration debate.
By clever use of analogy, the woman described last summer’s demonstrations against Congress for taking steps to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into this country. The letter depicts the attitude of those who are distressed that our government actually wants to uphold a fundamental American principle ” the rule of law.
The letter went something like this, “By way of analogy, let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests. Let’s say I break into your house. Let’s say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, “I’ve made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors. I’ve done all the things you don’t like to do. I’m hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).”
According to the protesters, you are therefore required to allow me to stay in your house, add me to your family’s insurance plan, educate my kids, and provide other benefits to me and to my family.
“Besides, my husband does all of your yard work and he too is hard-working and honest ” except of course for that breaking-in part.
“If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my right to live in your house. It’s only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I’m just trying to better myself.
“I’m a hard-working and honest person, except for well, you know; I did break into your house.
“And what a deal it is for me. I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of maintaining it, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of being cold, heartless, selfish and maybe even a racist.
“Oh, and before I forget, I demand that you to learn my language so you can communicate with me.” (This is why we “press one” for English in our English-speaking country.)
No one can blame a person for aspiring to a better way of life. But something is radically out-of-kilter when more than 10 percent of Mexico’s population lives in the United States illegally. To put this in context, imagine the combined populations of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia collectively moving to Canada.
The immigration debate centers on motivation and responsibility. As long as the United States provides more opportunity than an individual’s homeland does, people will try to emigrate here.
This reality then begs the larger question of why the government of Mexico cannot induce an industrious citizenry to live and work in their own country. Mexico is a nation that’s geographically blessed with abundant natural resources, access to two oceans, a temperate climate, and no armed enemies at its borders. So why do its citizens emigrate by the millions?
But let’s cut to the chase; so long as the Bush administration and Congress allows the Mexican government to ship its problems north, i.e., unemployment, low wages, lack of opportunity, and poor health and educational systems, it will continue to do so because A) there’s no ocean separating the two nations, and B) we make it easy for illegal aliens to stay here indefinitely.
Some will complain that it’s not compassionate to deny people living here illegally the same benefits American citizens enjoy. But the real issue is fairness. If we allow millions to remain here without consequence after illegally crossing our southern border, then why not give the wretched masses living in places such as Rwanda and the Sudan a free pass as well? After all, if any group of people deserves a better way of life, they certainly do.
But we all know that’s impossible. If our government allowed it, a billion people from the four corners of the earth would emigrate here before we put our winter coats away for the summer ” and then what?
Perhaps instead of protesting against our government for enforcing its laws, these misguided souls should redirect their ire towards their own governments and the United Nations for failing to improve the standards of living in places where people are desperate to leave.
I wonder if those who feel it’s the American taxpayer’s responsibility to reward unlawful activity would feel the same way if the United States bordered Asia or Africa with their teeming billions. Somehow I doubt it.
As Dr. Frank Luntz opined, “Respect for the rule of law is a core fundamental American principle. A nation that either cannot or will not enforce its laws ” including immigration laws ” is inviting abuse of all laws.”
My grandparents, like many peoples, were immigrants ” but they entered this country through the front door, learned English and the Pledge of Allegiance, and then worked tirelessly to assimilate into the American culture.
And as subsequent generations discovered, life works better when we knock before entering someone else’s home.
Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a bi-weekly column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.