When I was in fourth grade a Jewish man visited my school to talk about his experiences during the Holocaust. However, his account of his time spent in the consecration camps was not what made my eyes to tear up that day. He related that when he was a young boy, he and his friends thought that in America money grew on trees. He said that growing up in Czechoslovakia he always dreamed of coming to America and living the American dream. I could see the tears well up in his eyes and could hear the tremble in his voice when he began to tell us how lucky we were to be born in the USA because it is the best country in the world. This was the first time when I realized how enormously blessed I am to be an American.
I am so privileged to have never experienced the agony of persecution, the danger of combat, the loneliness of imprisonment, or the pangs of starvation. Torture has never been something I worried about. I have a good house and have plenty to eat. I can go to church without worrying about getting arrested or harassed. Im attending college, majoring in professional writing and editing, while millions of people cant even read. I own a computer, something that I view as a necessity, while countless others have never used or even seen one. Things that I view as rights and essentials, such as freedom of speech or access to clean water, are inaccessible luxuries to much of the world.
However, I feel that these things shouldnt have to be luxuries. We should be more open with our immigration so that we can share our amber waves of grain with the starving, our public education system with the illiterate and our health care with the sick. Everyone should be able attend church meeting without fear of persecution and go to bed at night without the pain of hunger. While, I realize that we cannot allow all of the worlds afflicted to come to America, I feel that it is unreasonable that we allow in only about the same amount of immigrants as Germany does, a country about the size of Oregon with less than a third of our population (Kinsley 214).
Perhaps the most common argument for immigration is that we are a nation of immigrants. Opposition feels this is a pathetic argument because all nations came from immigrants at some point in history. Their immigration was, however, more gradual, over a much larger period of time and so they have had time to merge not only culturally but biologically, through intermarriage, into one true nation (Brimelow 220-221). These nations restrict immigration to keep their ethnicity from being diluted (Kinsley215). But what ethnicity does America have to dilute? We have no primary ethnic component. In some states whites arent even the majority anymore. Americas chief characteristic is its diversity. By allowing more immigration, we are only strengthening our American-ness. Michael Kinsley, a senior editor at the New Republic, feels that concerns of ethnic purity, If applied in earlier times, when they were raised with equal passion, they would have excluded the ancestors of many who make the ethnic/cultural argument today (215).
Economics play a big role in the immigration debate. Opposition claims that immigrants, both legal and illegal, hurt our economy, while immigrations advocates claim that immigrants serve as a boost to our economy (Borjas230-231; Topolincki 225-227; Kinsley 215). Immigrations opposition often points out that immigrants are more likely to be on welfare or other social-assistance program (Borjas 233), but they fail to mention that high use of theses programs is almost exclusive to refugees from war-torn or Communists nations (Topolincki 226). In fact, few immigrants come to the US to get on welfare. Non-refugee immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to go on welfare and risk deportation if they do so in their first five years in America (226). Furthermore, being on the dole lessens an immigrants likelihood of being approved to sponsor a family member for residency in the US, which is many immigrants primary objective (226).
There are economic benefits from immigration. These benefits occur because certain abilities brought to America by immigrants complement the skills of the native population (Borjas 233). Also the jobs taken by immigrants will create more jobs by spewing the money they earn and spend back into the economy (Kinsley 215). According to Michael Kinsley, The more the merrier is a tenet of capitalism dating back to Adam Smith, and nothing I have seen disproves it.(215) In addition, while immigration lowers natives wages slightly, they add seven billion dollars to our economy a year. That averages out to only thirty dollars per capita, but nonetheless it is still an increase (Borjas 237-238).
Immigration is a part of Americas history. All of us have ancestors who immigrated to America or else we immigrated ourselves. Immigrants contribute to our economy, expand our culture and enrich our nation. I only hope that people will be able to immigrate tomorrow, as they were when my ancestors came to America to insure a better life for themselves and their posterity.
Borjas, George J. The New Economics of Immigration. The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert K. Miller. Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1986. 230-240
Brimelow, Peter. A Nation of Immigrants. The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert K. Miller. Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1986. 219-224.
Kinsley, Michael. Gatecrashers. The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert K. Miller. Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1986. 213-216.
Topolincki, Denise. Making It Big in America. The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert K. Miller. Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1986. 224-230.