No Longer A Nation Of Immigrants
By Rebekah Maxwell
A small family leaves their home in England to come to America, looking for the opportunity the bright new world affords. It’s how our country began. It’s what our history books celebrate. But no more. Now, we’re sending those immigrants who long the most to become Americans right back.
I spent my childhood in Maybery, USA…or, as the map calls it, Trenton, Missouri. There, I met the Gray family. My whole life I’ve remembered the Grays as the poster family for legal immigration. They came to America with the hopes of starting a business and settling down. They went through all the proper channels, did all their paperwork, and got their visas, with the hopes of becoming citizens.
For over a decade, the Grays have run a successful hotel and restaurant, paying taxes, and supporting the ever-shrinking main street of a rural town. Exactly the type of people America prides herself on welcoming.
Last week, their 21-year old daughter, Lauren, nearly had to deport herself and go back to England…because her parents came here legally.
Since 2003, she and her parents have been waiting for their green cards to become permanent American residents. And waiting. And waiting.
Current immigration law caps citizenship at 700,000 per year, but our country recognizes that 1-2 million immigrants settle permanently in the US each year. The Department of Homeland Security estimates 27 to 57 percent of illegal residents are temporary visa overstays, most of which the government will never prosecute.
The emotion-heavy hype about immigration usually comes out over the kids, who “through no fault of their own” are illegally brought to (or born in) America. While their situations must certainly be addressed with care, the Grays’ story is just one reason why the current talking points/excuses fail to solve our broken immigration system.
Giving certain non-citizens a wink and a nod, allowing selective application of basic law, not only creates the atmosphere for general off-the-books underhanded exploitation of those working and living here illegally, but also sets an inordinate burden upon those law-abiding immigrants, like the Grays.
President Obama’s recent extralegal amnesty order will do nothing to help young people like Lauren Gray. While the media attention from Gray’s case sparked a special dispensation from her Senator, Claire McCaskill (who’s coincidentally been facing a tough reelection campaign), Lauren will still have to go through the system to become an American citizen…the same extensive bureaucracy of a system that has been “processing” her parents’ paperwork for the past decade.
While Lauren Gray was packing up to leave last week, across the country, a veteran ICE agent was threatened with suspension just for doing his job. He was told to release an illegal immigrant (caught on 10 different traffic violations) because the man was not a “presidential priority.” When the agent refused, his superiors punished him, instead of the law-breaker.
Rules are made to be followed. The Rule of Law is made to be followed by all. The only way to have justice and equality is to see that laws apply to everyone. What Americans have developed for the last 50 years, either by misapplied compassion, blind political ambition, or a simple lack of spine, is a system that fails to apply fairly to everyone, a shifting target.
No more do we arrest criminals and let judges and juries apply the law to their cases. No, now “law-enforcement officers” pretend as though the law doesn’t even exist…but only when it suits particular purposes for particular people.
Meanwhile, taxpayers (including legal immigrants) will foot the bill for the compulsory charity our welfare state provides. Politicians will crow about reform, but only when they’re not pandering to immigrant communities…snapping up future voters. Elected officials will continue to ignore the law, to the profit of those corporations employing illegal workers.
And families like yours, like mine, like the Grays, are left wondering if there’s really much point to being American after all.