I have received many comments related to my post on Immigration. I want first to thank of those who commented and second, I want to try to eliminate a few of immigration myths so that we can have a constructive debate on this important question.
- Illegality and poverty should not monopolize the debate. There is the feeling out there that all immigration in the United States is illegal and that it brings in poor people in the United States. It isn't true.
- Immigration is not a multiple-choice question with two simple and extreme answers. The choice is not thus narrow as the debate has been and it isn’t between those who want to close the borders and build a wall around the US and those who want to welcome all the poor people of world.
- The question of integration is a bigger question than the one of immigration since it questions the type of society that Americans chose to have. Someone wrote to me that the people demonstrating in the streets were loyal Americans because they had flags from other countries. I disagree. America made the choice a long time ago that immigrants didn’t have to give up their roots and their history to become Americans and part of American society. This explains, for example, the fact that Alex Rodriguez could chose between playing for the United States and playing for the Dominican Republic. It explains why politicians such as Ted Kennedy do not hesitate to talk about their Irish roots and show their love for Ireland. I remember that during the Olympics in Australia, Marion Jones celebrated her victory in the 100 meters with the flag of Belize. Nobody said that she was not loyal to America. One of the greatest things about this country is that multiculturalism and multiethiniticy is not in contradiction with american identity. If some want to change that aspect of America, then they should have a debate about, but not use double standards to justify their hostility to immigration.
- The poor who come to this country do not come here to be on welfare and to take advantage of the United States social system. They come here to find work and opportunity, which are not present in their own country. I think that there is a hidden message behind those who say that if you are poor, you should be allowed to immigrate here and that message is that poor people are lazy and that they are poor not because there is something wrong with them. Poor immigrants usually end up raising their status in American society because they are willing to lick the streets of Los Angeles or of New York to earn a living. The point is that they are ready and willing to work.
- The solution of the immigration issue is not essentially about border patrol. It is about the rules and the criteria, which the United States chooses to ensure that the people who immigrate here will be law-abiding citizens and will improve its society. Whether people want to accept it or not, the United States needs immigrants. The most important question in my opinion of this whole debate is how to make the immigration process fair so that there is a just balance between accepting those who have great knowledge and skills and those who are poor, but are entrepreneurial. The sad thing is that because the focus has been on illegal immigration and of security, it has become more difficult for people with skills, knowledge, and talent to immigrate to the United States. I know from experience that it is easier in some circumstances for someone who comes here illegal to get her/his papers by seeking asylum than it is for a student who studied it, who has show by receiving his diplomas that s/he is smart and will more than likely offer something to America.