Welcome to Our Shores

The United States is a nation of immigrants - with the exception of the Native Americans, who some scientists believe also came from somewhere else. It is a country of transients washed up on the American shore in search of opportunity, wealth, or because someplace else wouldn't have them - for reasons both good and bad. They come from every country on the face of the Earth, using every form of transportation imaginable - including walking, swimming, and being smuggled inside shipping containers. Some stay for a few years and move on. Others put down roots and their children and grandchildren will still be here generations from now.

This melange of nationalities and ethnicities is what gives the US its distinctive flavor. Immigrants are and should be proud of where they come from. They should celebrate who they are. They should be able to speak their own language, eat their own foods, belong to their own religion, and live as they please as long as it is within the law. That's the stuff of everyday freedom in a democracy. That is the stuff that makes this a great nation - at least when we behave ourselves.

We've been hearing more about illegal immigration lately. Some are agitating to block out the Mexicans Berlin Wall-style while others see the influx as a boon to a generally affluent population unwilling to pay for menial jobs that must be done. Some speak about it in racial or ethnic terms. Others single out a portion of the issue, like whether we should be an English-only society.

We believe that we must stand strongly for immigrants. If we don't, we become the type of repressive nation that the immigrants are running from. Besides, the Statue of Liberty - an immigrant herself - would look pretty silly standing in New York harbor with no one to greet. But we also aspire to be a nation of laws - despite the administration's thoughts of an Imperial Presidency.

As more and more immigrants enter the US, the citizens of this country are increasingly strapped to pay for the services the immigrants use. They rightfully complain that unchecked immigration results in less secure borders. And while many people see immigrants taking only jobs that "Americans don't want", there are plenty of software developers, doctors, researchers, and the like who are occupying jobs Americans do want.

We believe that, with some exceptions for truly evil people, people should be allowed to immigrate. However, they should do it legally. We welcome you to this country, but part of gaining the benefits our citizens are entitled to is a responsibility to give something back to the country that makes them possible. You should pay for the services you use through taxes. You should serve in this country's armed forces (although many already do and should be commended). You should be subject to the same laws as citizens. And, you should vote to make sure your beliefs are upheld. While we are a country of opportunity and general freedom, we are also a country that strongly believes in giving back. And immigrants, regardless of their original home, should be expected to do just that when they make America their new home.

That seems a fair trade to us, and we don't mean NAFTA.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, February 05, 2006

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