Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The immigration issue

To those supporting Trump’s immigration policy:

In 1620, 108 pilgrims set out from port Plymouth to the new world awaiting them.  Many of the 108 passengers were separatists, fleeing persistent religious persecution.  They survived harsh new England winter environment and their voyage has become an iconic story in the American history. The culmination of the voyage in singing of the Mayflower compact was an event that established a rudimentary form democracy that emanated into what would become a mainstay political form in America.

Fast forward to 1800s, immigration to the budding country had significantly increased starting from the 1820s.  From 1820 to 1860, millions of Irish arrived escaping the blight of Great Irish Famine back home.  Needless to say, the Irish weren’t required to have visas.  The country was in need of labor in canal building, lumbering, and civil constructions.  Most of the Irish settled in the big cities along the coast. During the Civil war, the newly arrived Irish immigrants would be granted citizenship right off the ship only to be drafted in the US army.  Of course, the Irish has had a huge impact on America as whole.

From the very beginning when the first settlers arriving in Mayflower to the Irish, Italian, and other Europeans’ immigration, America has always represented a hope and a way of living a new life escaping harsh environment of the home country.  THIS IS WHAT THIS COUNTRY is about.  This country was founded by immigrants on the backs of the immigrants.  It provided safe haven with opportunities to the newcomers.  Everyone in this country finds an immigration story in their family.  Morally, it is wrong for us to exclude the so called “illegal immigrants” when in fact the only difference between the way how they arrived and how your ancestors arrived is timing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not advocating to get rid of INS.  After all, there has been a nation building in this land.  Just like any other nations, a sensible immigration policy is necessary for this country.  But, the issue at hand is not whether we get rid of borders altogether and let everyone in.  The issue is rather, after so many years of material establishment by all of these so called “illegal immigrants” in this country, how could we turn our backs and tell them to leave, ignoring the human costs they will have to endure?  Even letting them stay still means a very difficult path to legal immigration status.  They will still need to be able support themselves financially and the slightest infraction against law would jeopardize their legal “entrance” to this country.  By no means, this is a sweet offer.  But, this is the least we should do.  

Fei Shen

June 2016