Why Are Children and Grandchildren of Immigrants So Eager to Keep Immigrants Out?
Megan Smolenyak
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Megan, I commend the amount of research you have clearly done related to this topic and I can see that it’s something you’re passionate about. I think what’s missing in your question is that you’re not making a distinction between immigrants (which are people not native to the U.S. but are here legally) and non-legal immigrants (which are clearly those who are here outside of the system of law). Based on these distinctions, the title of your article is not accurate.

As a citizen who in politics also makes a distinction between immigrants who are here legally and those who are not, I find erroneous presentations of this position disingenuous and would love to help clarify this position. Whether we like all of them or not, a nation’s laws keep us safe and define what’s important to its citizens. It is not unreasonable, however unpopular, for a citizen to expect its government to uphold those laws as fairly and equitably as possible. With that said, I concede that our system isn’t perfect and that many injustices occur within our judicial system. However, that is not the topic of THIS discussion.

I respect every viewpoint on this matter from those who want no restrictions on illegal immigration to those who want every restriction — that is the beauty of our democracy. I simply desire that we use our actual judicial system to make and amend laws and use our law enforcement system to enforce them. Respectfully, I feel those you are targeting in your article are huge proponents of legal immigration but oppose non-legal immigration. But that is not the conversation that is happening which I hope will change.

I believe there’s a perception on the left about people who they perceive to be “against immigration” as you’ve suggested in your title, and that perception relates to generosity, or lack thereof. I believe that, as one of the most prosperous nations on the earth, we have an obligation to lead in being generous. However, no individual or entity ever gives beyond their own ability to first take care of themselves. Bill and Melinda Gates do not starve their own children in order to feed the poor; their giving is within measure to their wealth. As it should be for cities, states and our nation. By extending the rights and privileges of citizenship to non-citizens, we are 1) effectively erasing citizenship and 2) draining and weakening our resources to the point that they are not benefiting citizens anymore. 3) We are also sending the message to those millions of immigrants who work hard and come here lawfully that their effort in obeying our laws doesn’t matter. This is a dangerous precedent. What other laws will they decided to follow or not follow, at our cue? That is why those who are 1 or 2 generations from immigrants themselves feel so passionately about this. The rationale of the argument that they who benefit most from their immigration would desire to rob it from another (legally) is absurd. The reason it doesn’t make sense to you is because it’s not accurate.

We absolutely have an obligation to deal with those who are caught in limbo in our current system with dignity and compassion. I would love to join hands with those across the aisle to keep our president and government accountable to that. But we also have an obligation to fix the problem and actually enforce our laws already in effect. Can we please shift our conversations from polarizing half-truths and stereotypes to hearing and listening to each other and actually changing the system for the better? It’s ok that we don’t agree on every issue, but our thoughts and values on this issue are equal as citizens and we should treat each other as such.

As a writer, you are helping to drive the narratives behind important issues such as these. Those who are leading conversations have a moral and civil obligation to do so honestly and earnestly, taking every effort to accurately and fully represent the topics you’re covering (within reason of available information of course). Your love of an propensity for history obviously means you care about how things are documented and represented. I can’t help but feel that your reflection on this can help bring about a more thorough dialog on this and politics in general, which our country so desperately needs. Either your article labors to pander to a segment of the population who simply want to pat each other on the back for their “like” viewpoints, or your article was written in the spirit of healthy debate of important issues. Thank you for your time.