There has been a lot in the news about the so-called caravan of Central Americans who traversed Mexico to reach our border. The 100 or so travelers are reportedly fleeing gang violence in their home countries. As an NBC reporter on the scene stated, “If the United States doesn’t allow them in, they have no other choice.”
A really good reporter would find out why these refugees don’t ask Mexico for asylum, after all, it’s a Spanish-speaking country. In fact, there are lots of questions to ask these people instead of proposing that the United States is their only hope. Has Mexico become a hell-hole? How about U.S. marshals escorting the caravan to Canada? Argentina is nice this time of year.
Since 1990, the U.S. has granted thousands of refugees admission to our country under the Temporary Protected Status Program (T.P.S.). Beside the estimated 11 million illegal aliens in this country, there are almost half a million people from ten designated countries who have sought “temporary” refuge from natural disasters, gang violence, political repression, wars, and whatever else is visited upon them.
TPS beneficiaries are allowed to bring family members, find jobs, attend schools. Children born here are U.S. citizens. Refugees from just El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have had approximately 273,000 American-born children, automatic citizens. While things have improved in their home countries since they came here, these folks have more reasons to stay than to leave. We, old-time citizens, are now pitted against each other arguing over the morality of forcing “temporary” refugees out.
And, don’t forget the DACA kids (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) who were brought here illegally as children by their border-violating parents, another 1.5 people who expect amnesty and citizenship. (In appreciation, I’m sure they would vote to dump Columbus Day.)
Among the more useless words in American jargon these days is “border,” “temporary,” “national sovereignty,” and “immigration policy.” Sneaking across our borders, overstaying visas, or demanding that TPS be permanent have created a class of super foreigners who now challenge our vocabulary.
True, we are a nation of immigrants but we all came under applicable laws. When Italians came over, we were encouraged to become citizens and stay permanently – half of us chose to return home. When the United States conquered the Philippines and Puerto Rico, special laws allowed those natives to come here or have automatic citizenship. America’s guilt-ridden wars around the world are bringing more refugees to our shores. The Vietnam debacle brought some one million asylum seekers here as permanent residents. Invading Iraq and Afghanistan guaranteed us thousands of newcomers. In short, whenever we bomb a country it adds to our diversity.
We Italians did not come exclusively to the U.S. We shared our sweat, brains, and blood around the world. It is estimated that there are 57 million Italic people outside of Italy, with only 17 million in the U.S. Millions of us went legally to South America, Canada, and Australia. We, too, fled gang violence, poverty, oppression, disease, and wars. But precious few jumped ship to enter.
Why doesn’t Congress encourage Palestinians to come en masse? Surely, we are indirectly responsible for their plight since 1948. Couldn’t we relieve pressure on Israel if we took in two million or so oppressed Palestinians? Of course, they would only be here temporarily, until Zionists and Arabs worked out a permanent solution. Or, would that be a scam?
Ultimately, the question of unrestricted borders comes down to the future of the target nation. Millions come here and to Europe thankful for their admission, but soon realize that they can change our values, our standards, and even our history. Some people think diversity will remain a constant proportion of balanced ethnic, religious, and racial groups, regardless of how many asylum-seekers are accepted. This is absurd.
If there is one thing I have learned as a student of history it is that diversity may enrich a nation but it can also create festering problems. -JLM