Thrawn Rickle 77


© 2004 Williscroft

What is an immigrant?  Perhaps the definition with the widest acceptance is one who leaves his or her native country in order to settle permanently elsewhere.

By this definition, obviously, children of immigrants born in the new homeland are not immigrants.  Nations typically establish mechanisms whereby immigrants can become citizens.  In the United States, naturalized citizenship carries with it nearly all the rights and privileges of birth citizenship.  The exceptions include such things as becoming President.  The children of immigrants, on the other hand, possess all the rights and privileges of birth citizenship.  It is not too surprising, therefore, that would-be immigrants go to great lengths to ensure their offspring are born on U.S. soil.

For nearly three hundred years after Columbus first set foot in the Americas half a millennium ago, people immigrated here from all over the world.  When our country’s founders put things into perspective, they pointed out the self-evident idea that all people are created equal.  In declaring their independence from the British sovereign, they went far beyond that simple declaration by insisting that the general human condition should be in a free state.  By establishing a nation where this condition rules, they clearly implied an open-door policy to anyone seeking freedom.

What the founding fathers did not allow for, probably because it never occurred to them, was a restriction on immigration because there is no room at the inn.  Few of us would argue the wisdom of preventing too many people from climbing aboard a full life boat, thereby jeopardizing everyone’s lives.  Many people now argue that the United States is in a similar position with respect to immigration, and especially illegal immigration (defined as immigration not sanctioned by the government).  Are these people correct?  Does their interpretation accurately reflect reality?

The essence of the objections to immigration clearly does not involve living space.  America still has more livable open space than most nations.  The objections, at least for Hispanic immigrants, seem to center around the amenities—primarily welfare and medical care, and loss of jobs.

From my own investigation of the loss of jobs situation, most immigrants, at least those who are Hispanic, take jobs no one else will take.  The bottom line produced by this is a net increase in jobs and an expanded tax base.  This is patently beneficial for everybody; the guy who needs the work done, the guy who wants to work, and the government entity that gets the added taxes.

What about the welfare and health care situation?  When more than half the babies born in Los Angeles County Hospital belong to illegal immigrants on welfare, this is a real problem by anybody’s definition.  But is this an immigration problem?  I think you know the answer.  It makes little sense to quash immigration with the ensuing loss of jobs and tax base, when we can save billions of dollars in welfare and medical expenditures, control undesirable immigration by removing its welfare incentive, and generate additional tax revenue by expanding the job-related tax base.

The problem is how we handle welfare and medical care.  It has nothing to do with immigration.  The solution is obvious—it doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

Today we have another “immigration problem.” America has been attacked by terrorist forces that seem to have only two things in common with each other: (1) They are Muslim of the Wahhabi variety, and (2) they hate Americans, Jews, and most non-Muslims. America’s response has been to remove permanently the illegitimate rulers of Afghanistan, who were radically Wahhabi and direct sponsors of the attacks against America, to remove the Iraqi dictatorship and the threats it posed, and to set up a vigilant system designed to prevent terrorists from entering our country in the first place.

A perhaps understandable response of the general public has been to look askance at any individual who even looks Arabic. Since we have officially abandoned the practice of profiling, many people are at a loss when dealing with this situation.

I had a tenant in one of my apartments who was from the Middle East. He was an American citizen attending dental school. He and I were talking several weeks after 9/11 about how he was being treated under the circumstances. He was dressed in normal “American” attire, jeans and shirt, had a typical student haircut, and could have been an American with some Hispanic or other “Southern” heritage. In effect, here in Los Angeles, he was indistinguishable from hundreds of thousands of other individuals. Consequently, he reported to me that he had experienced no discrimination.

On the other hand, I have observed women and men walking down the street dressed in traditional Arab attire who are being avoided by everyone. This is even true for non-Arabs such as Sikhs and others who wear distinctive clothing that has elements in common with Arab attire. Without evidence to the contrary, no one should discriminate against these people, but the only “evidence” most citizens have is the apparent fact that the terrorists who threaten us are Muslim, which equates in most people’s minds to this kind of attire.

There is an obvious solution to this potentially explosive situation, a solution my tenant discovered by himself. There really is no reason for American Muslims to wear such distinctive dress. If American Imams were to address this situation in their Mosques, and more specifically, if they were to issue appropriate Fatwas, directing their congregations to dress in normal American attire, for the most part, the problem would simply go away. Fatwas are Islamic religious directives that are mandatory for all Muslims. Thus the people who currently feel compelled to dress so distinctively, would be required to blend in instead of stand out. End of problem.

Middle Eastern immigrants would become just another group of people who would simply blend in with all the Hispanics who make up the largest group of current immigrants in America. They will be able to follow their dreams just like our forefathers followed theirs, whether they did this two hundred years or just one generation ago.

So bring on the immigrants.  We still need their brains and their brawn; and we still need the world to know that we remain the land of the free.

Submariner, diver, scientist, author & adventurer. 22 mos underwater, a yr in the equatorial Pacific, 3 yrs in the Arctic, and a yr at the South Pole. BS Marine Physics & Meteorology, PhD in Engineering. Authors non-fiction, Cold War thrillers, and hard science fiction. Lives in Centennial, CO.

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