Among the charges against the king listed in the Declaration of Independence: “He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither …” From 1776 to 1882, when we had the minimalist Federal Government that Conservatives always say they want to return to, there were no restriction on immigration. If you could get here, you could stay. There were efforts to bar the Irish from coming because of their “filthy habits alien religion” but no laws were made until 1882 when the first limits were placed on immigration in the racist “Chinese exclusion” law. Further restriction were passed in the decades to come, mainly to keep out “undesirable” ethnic groups, like Slavs and Italians. Asian immigrant were, for many decades, barred from citizenship even when they come legally and had lived here for decades. . “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-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Perhaps we cannot afford to be the world’s refuge as we once were and even aspired to be. Times have changed. We have to control our borders, and we must enforce the law. I don’t dispute that. The law should be obeyed. But the law should also be just, and legal immigration should not be so terribly difficult for so many, especially when the difficulty is based on their ethnicity. We once thought it “amnesty” to punish a horse thief with anything less than death, now lesser punishments for non-violent theft are considered sufficient. We should prevent “undocumented” persons from coming in. We should punish those who do come in illegally: their path to citizenship should be longer, harder, and more expensive. And we should deport those who come in and then refuse to follow that path, who do not demonstrate that they want to become Americans. But allowing anyone in this country to be abused and exploited, to make them live in fear of arrest and deportation because they really have nowhere and no one to return to, that is what I object to. If someone moves in next door from Britain, or France, does anyone worry about them being here illegally? Should their papers be checked every time they having dealings with officialdom because they have a foreign accent?
Apr 12, 2017