Thrawn Rickle 49

Immigration

© 1993 Williscroft

What is an immigrant?  Perhaps the definition with the widest acceptance is one who leaves his or her native country in order to settle permanently elsewhere.

By this definition, obviously, children of immigrants born in the new homeland are not immigrants.  Nations typically establish mechanisms whereby immigrants can become citizens.  In the United States, naturalized citizenship carries with it nearly all the rights and privileges of birth citizenship.  The exceptions include such things as becoming President.  The children of immigrants, on the other hand, possess all the rights and privileges of birth citizenship.  It is not too surprising, therefore, that would-be immigrants go to great lengths to ensure their offspring are born on U.S. soil.

For nearly three hundred years after Columbus first set foot in the Americas half a millennium ago, people immigrated here from all over the world.  When our country’s founders put things into perspective, they pointed out the self-evident idea that all people are created equal.  In declaring their independence from the British sovereign, they went far beyond that simple declaration by insisting that the general human condition should be in a free state.  By establishing a nation where this condition rules, they clearly implied an open-door policy to anyone seeking freedom.

What the founding fathers did not allow for, probably because it never occurred to them, was a restriction on immigration because there is no room at the inn.  Few of us would argue the wisdom of preventing too many people from climbing aboard a full life boat, thereby jeopardizing everyone’s lives.  Many people now argue that the United States is in a similar position with respect to immigration, and especially illegal immigration (defined as immigration not sanctioned by the government).  Are these people correct?  Does their interpretation accurately reflect reality?

The essence of the objections to immigration clearly does not involve living space.  America still has more livable open space than most nations.  The objections seem to center around the amenities—primarily welfare and medical care, and loss of jobs.

From my own investigation of the loss of jobs situation, most immigrants, at least those who are Hispanic, take jobs no one else will take.  The bottom line produced by this is a net increase in jobs and an expanded tax base.  This is patently beneficial for everybody; the guy who needs the work done, the guy who wants to work, and the government entity that gets the added taxes.

What about the welfare and health care situation?  When more than half the babies born in Los Angeles County Hospital belong to illegal immigrants on welfare, this is a real problem by anybody’s definition.  But is this an immigration problem?  I think you know the answer.  It makes little sense to quash immigration with the ensuing loss of jobs and tax base, when we can save billions of dollars in welfare and medical expenditures, control undesirable immigration by removing its welfare incentive, and generate additional tax revenue by expanding the job-related tax base.

The problem is how we handle welfare and medical care.  It has nothing to do with immigration.  The solution is obvious—it doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

So bring on the immigrants.  We still need their brains and their brawn; and we still need the world to know that we remain the land of the free.

I’ve said it before, a problem with a solution doesn’t bother me.