Last time, the Master of the Extraordinary got mad at me because my topic wasn’t sufficiently polemic. “Controversy sells, Carlos, pick something that will piss people off!” So after scratching my head for a while, I finally settled on immigration.
Now I’m sure this will leave no doubt in the rabble-rousers’ minds that I’m up to no good: “Carlos is at it again, corrupting our good old-fashioned American values. Just look at his name, he is probably one of them [a proud Irish-Jewish mutt!]. Let’s deport him now before he causes any more problems.”
As our world has become increasingly globalized, immigration in turn has been rising steadily: Just look at all the immigration to countries in western Europe that until recently had been sources of significant emigration to the Americas. So while we can certainly argue about its pros and cons, the fact of the matter is that there will continue to be an “immigration problem” as long as significant differences in economic opportunities between neighboring countries persist, and no physical or legal barriers are going to prevent this.
Furthermore, if individuals are willing to travel long distances, braving great dangers both human-made and natural in order to be justly compensated for their hard work, then we should welcome them with open arms. Now some may say, “Carlos, we don’t have a problem with the one’s who enter the country legally, just the one’s who are entering illegally!” This argument might be persuasive if we could all honestly agree that the current laws are sound. However, the desire to change them appears to be one of the few universals in this debate.
Others fear that the immigrants are somehow going to irreparably pervert American culture (Oh God, not tacos, accordion music and Catholicism!). Ultimately, as long as we teach them English, share with them our cultural values, and are willing to learn about theirs, the concerns about Latino, Indian or Arab immigrants today will prove to be just as unfounded as the concerns about Italian, Irish or German immigrants 150 years ago. Call me old fashioned but I still believe that there is inherent value in accepting the world’s “tired”, “poor”, “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse” (Emma Lazarus, 1883).
- Carlos de la Gringa