Recently I had a conversation with a friend who has a long acquaintance with Latin America, especially Mexico. Years ago, he did post graduate work in Mexico where he met his future wife. Eventually, he went into the commercial insurance business and spent most of his career in Latin America.
He retired a couple of years ago and told me that he would never go back to Mexico despite his love for the country and its people. Even though his wife still has family near Mexico City, they are afraid to return because it has become too dangerous.
He described a country terrorized by drug gangs in the same way that ISIS is terrorizing the people of Iraq and Syria. Unless you join the drug gangs or cooperate with them, you and your family will be brutally persecuted. He believes that the people who we call illegal immigrants should actually be considered refugees fleeing to America for their lives.
From his perspective when people like Donald Trump rail against illegal immigrants, and talk about deporting 11000000 people back to Mexico, they are really telling these people to go to hell.
Put aside for a moment the impractically of searching out and rounding up 11 Million people (where did Trump get that number?) and then shipping them back to Mexico, just consider how contrary this is to all that America used to stand for.
Most of us are descendants of immigrants who for one reason or another fled their homeland to find peace and opportunity for their families in America. Most of our forebears would have been illegal if the unjust immigration laws of the 1920s, which were the product of KKK like bigotry and prejudice, had been in existence when they came.
In the 1920’s racists and advocates of ethnic purity decided to stem the flow of immigration into this country. They wanted no more undesirables, especially if they practiced alien religions like Catholicism and Judaism. New immigration laws made during the 1920s made a mockery of the Statue of Liberty and the famous poem written by Emma Lazarus.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Why does Donald Trump advocate such a cruel and inhumane policy? Why do he and others insist on enforcing laws that were the product of racism and religious bigotry?
If the law was different all of these immigrants could have entered the country peacefully without danger to life and limb and without employing criminals to guide them. I’m not saying we should be stupid or impractical. They should have to apply for citizenship and meet certain criteria. They should not immediately enjoy all the benefits of citizenship, for citizenship in this country should still be regarded as a great privilege.
Finally, opening up our doors again will provide great benefits. It is not just a question of who will cut our lawns, remove our garbage, or paint our homes, but how will we compete with China’s huge population with only 300 million people? Who will buy up our unused housing if our population continues to decline? Don’t immigrants now rent American apartments, drive American cars, and buy American products in American stores?
Finally, the pressure on those states that now bear the brunt of illegal immigration will be alleviated. The millions of dollars now spent on controlling the Mexican border can be allocated to other purposes.
For many reasons we need these immigrants. We need them more than we need Donald Trump. ###