Thursday, April 13, 2006

He Ain't Tired

Once again, Deborah Leavy has published an op-ed that does an excellent job expressing my own sentiments on the subject she's writing about. In her latest Philly Daily News column, It's the Arguments That Are 'Tired' & 'Poor', she notes:

IN THE CURRENT discussions about immigration, the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty ("Give me your tired, your poor...") is often cited, usually with considerable eye-rolling, by those who use it to argue that pro-immigration people are hopelessly outdated, impractical romantics. Perhaps some are. But I think there are much more contemporary and compelling reasons to continue to welcome immigrants to our shores.

* * * *

To put it bluntly, those who want to come here to share in our way of life aren't the ones who want to kill us. You don't bomb the place you want to move to. The more who think America is the place to be, the better.

* * * *

We get the best of the gene pool. Once here, they are ready to work hard to realize their goals - the Pakistani taxi drivers taking double shifts, the Chinese restaurant owners who put their extended families to work, the Latino day workers who crowd into rooms at night so they can send money back to their families. Their energy is new blood pumping into the American economy.

Are they taking jobs from Americans? Only when they are exploited because of their immigrant status. Stop employers from taking unfair (and often illegal) advantage of immigrants and they will be competing with Americans on a level playing field.

* * * *

No doubt much of the anti-immigrant feeling is coming from the same place it always has - prejudice. We also didn't want the Chinese, the Irish, the Italians or the Jews. Now there are people in a panic because salsa outsells ketchup, ballots must be multilingual, customer service offers an option in Spanish.

They worry that Hispanic immigrants, legal and otherwise, aren't just in big cities like Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, but in whitebread towns everywhere across the country.

And if that isn't enough, there are Korean-language signs on shops and churches and taxi drivers wearing turbans. It's enough to scare the living daylights out of Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, whose grandparents didn't exactly come over on the Mayflower (and would have been immigrants if they had).

Throughout our history, immigrants have invigorated our nation. Our ability to absorb other cultures is our strength - it makes us who we are. We have to start with that premise in determining immigration policy.
As I watch the Immigration Rallies across the country, with the passion this issue has raised within the immigrant population, there has been a tinge of sadness as well. With all of the serious assaults and threats to our liberties and by the government in power, we too should be taking to the streets in revolt. But alas, we do nothing. We do need that infusion of spirit in our country that our newest members may inspire.

Immigration is certainly a complex issue, but I think that it is fairly clear that the policies that we currently have in place to deal with the issue are inappropriate and inadequate. However, any solution needs to take into account these long held views and principles as we try to fashion a reasonable way to include new people in our midst.

Luckily, the Republicans can't get their act together on this issue either, so they won't be able to make it worse.

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