I love the Statue of Liberty and what she represents. I love that she is a beacon of hope. I love that she beckons to all who wish to live in freedom. I understand the motivation of the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I also love what America stands for and thank God–I am sure not enough– for the blessing of being born in a country that provided me the life I have been blessed to live. I am downright sentimental about it.
The immigration discussion that has been taking place the last 15-20 years is growing ever more contentious. Though it may be a national discussion, it is also one of those rare instances where citizens get to see first-hand how inept federal policies affect their local communities. After all, immigrants–whether they are legal, illegal, asylum seeker, or refugee–end up in someone’s community.
Who, exactly, is coming to our communities and do we have a need to be concerned? Do we have the right to ask questions? Do we have the right to assurances that immigrants, especially those from countries hostile to American ideals, are not a threat to our communities?
I believe, emphatically, that we do have the right to ask these questions and be given assurances that they are not a threat. This is not about being anti-immigrant. This is about common sense government. It’s about asking if our government is allowing more immigrants than it can safely process and pay for. It’s about asking if our government is ensuring the integrity of our immigration laws.
What has been the impact of an immigration policy that seemingly has no restrictions? Or a secure and reliable vetting process? Or mechanism to hold those breaking our immigration laws accountable? Over-burdening of local resources (schools and social services primarily), increased risk of communicable illnesses, increased criminal activity (drug smuggling and human trafficking) and, yes, entry of persons hostile to the American way of life–whether they be jihadists or violent gang members. I don’t like having to say these things. Neither do government officials advocating for a much stricter immigration policy. But it’s a reality.
The argument has been made, of course, that these are the rare exceptions, with the likelihood of these particular scenarios impacting you, John Q. Public, being slim. Many of the immigrants here do not fall into those categories. They have come to America through lawful channels, assimilated well into our communities, work, raise families, and are grateful for the hope America has given them. It’s not fair for them to bear the burden of a lengthy vetting process.
Maybe so. Still, when the stakes are so high—and increased risks to your family’s health and security is the result—people want to err on the side of caution. No risk—not 1%, not 20%–is worth it. And they don’t want their government gambling on their behalf, when their health and security is the ante.
What is the common-sense thing for our government to do, given the concerns expressed by citizens? Get a firm control on the pace of the immigrants we are allowing into the country. Vet them properly and extensively, to ensure public health and security. Make sure it is safe and healthy to bring them into our communities. Ensure reliable barriers are in place to remove avenues used by criminal to evade our laws, like the “Border Wall.”
Inaction is not a plan, or a policy. Assuming the best is not the right approach. The public does not want to hear, “Well, the odds are that nothing “fill-in-the-blank” will come of it, so it’s safe. We’ll sort it all out after they get here.” That’s not good enough. The public wants to know BEFORE immigrants are allowed into the country that they are not a health or security risk. Further, the public WANTS known criminals and threats to our community removed. Presently, there is no public confidence in the federal vetting system. There is no explanation for why politicians are not acting to change it, or impeding those who are.
What has been the federal government’s response to the public demanding a stronger, more accountable, and more reliable vetting process? Demand the citizens accept the status quo and foot the bill. Accuse them of xenophobia or racism if they don’t. Threaten states with loss of federal funding if they don’t comply with the status quo.
Those states which capitulate? Well, they then demand their local communities take on the burden, threatening them with the loss of state funds if they don’t comply. After all, federal dollars are involved, right? They’ll assert whatever other scary scenario is applicable at the time to ensure they do. A subtle form of coercion, but coercion nonetheless. No government of free citizens should force policy by coercion. It’s downright un-American.
However, since they do, that means you, the citizen and taxpayer, has LESS to tend to your family priorities—which are important to you—because the federal government feels better putting THEIR priorities ahead of yours, while spending YOUR money to do it. THEIR priorities, however misguided, ineptly pursued, or against the will of the public, come at YOUR expense. Both your dollars AND your peace of mind.
Is it fair, then, to ask the question, even in the “Land of the Free,” if America is taking in more people than the hope that exists in its promise to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” can provide, or puts that promise at risk? Is it fair to ask if those “huddled masses” are truly yearning to breathe free? Is it fair to ask if those coming to America truly have her best interest at heart?
Most Americans believe yes. Our government needs to listen…and ensure that America’s security is their first priority. The immigration discussion has become a pawn in the war of competing political ideologies…at the expense of domestic tranquility. That needs to stop. Now.