Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

– Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

The vast majority of Americans would no doubt consider their society free and open if asked. In the very same breath, many would also denounce “illegal aliens”, “immigrants”, or even “Mexicans” in general. The level of blatant xenophobia we see in the United States today, against Hispanic people, Arabs, and Muslims, among others, parallels only one other time in American history: the mid-19th century, known among other things for the Know-Nothing Party, nativism, and discrimination against Chinese, Irish, and Catholic immigrants. We look upon that era with disgust but fail to see the parallel to our modern society. If we look upon America as such a land of opportunity, why are we treating it as an exclusive, high-society club, where we only let people in if they agree to all our views?

I am not arguing for the passage of the DREAM Act. I am proposing something infinitely more radical. I seek nothing less than granting permanent U.S. citizenship to anyone who seeks it – and amnesty to all past illegal immigrants that seek citizenship.

Why should entering American soil be a crime? There is no reason to distinguish between jobs “stolen” by Mexican immigrants, and those transferred to American citizens born here. Certain people, however, are enraged by the former, while treating the latter as a fact of life – a view that can only be called xenophobia. #



24 responses to “Opportunity

  1. I consider myself a liberal democrat to a great extent, and I agree with about 95% of this post. The discrimination Muslims and Latinos suffer is great, and is very similar to the period of the 1850s in which you are talking about. However, I have one question with your proposal, and it here it goes-Do you seek to grant citizenship to every single illegal immigrant here in the United States? Including those who are in gangs or committed violent crimes such as assault, rape or murder? Because let’s not sugarcoat the whole immigrant population here in America-go to cities such as New York, and then deeper into communities such as Corona, East Elmhurst (Queens) or Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan- and you will see those who are in violent and notorious gangs such as the Latin Kings, MS 13, Trinitarios- are made up of almost purely Hispanic people- and almost all are here illegally.

  2. I’m not saying illegal immigrants should be absolved of all crimes, just of illegal entry. Indeed, if they’re on the books, we can prosecute them here for any other crimes they may commit; in fact controlling crime and gangs more.

  3. So then after they are prosecuted and they served their sentences, would you deport them? Or would you deport them after trial, if they are found guilty?

  4. In a word, yes.
    A more detailed explanation: when the new policy goes into effect, all persons on US soil, if they don’t choose to leave, will be granted citizenship. Lawbreakers will then be prosecuted as citizens.
    After the policy is the status quo, anyone will be allowed to request and receive citizenship, which will be a prerequisite for extended stay.

  5. What about this plan- the immigrants who have committed major crimes, such as rape, assault, homicide, robbery, or any other major crimes, they would deported, no questions asked. This provision would also apply to immigrants who are gang members. It would be different for immigrants who are in good social standing, such as if they follow the laws, paid their taxes, and so on. They must know English, they must be living between 5-10 years in the United States or more, and preference would be given if they have a family and/or kids who are under the age of 18, or if they have a medical ailment that is rare or serious (HIV, AIDS, cancer). They must also be active their local community. Now, for the people who have committed minor crimes (such as misdemeanors), the same would apply, with the provision that they have not committed a crime for 5 years.

  6. Are the factors you listed qualifications for citizenship, for “good social standing”, or what?
    What I don’t understand is why people think it’s beneficial to impose these discriminatory factors based on birthplace. “Active in the community?” If we mandated such actions for native-born Americans, there would be a huge uproar. Is the implication that those born in other countries are innately deserving of fewer rights?

  7. Active in the community-Community Service-this could mean helping out in the local church or helping out in their children’s schools.
    Good Social Standing-Pretty much means to have a clean record.
    These are my listed qualifications for citizenship.

  8. You mean *immigrant* qualifications for citizenship, do you not? Surely you do not advocate these same restrictions for children born in America?

  9. Yes, and no. Morally, you must, but this could be sort of an extra provision, or an optional requirement that could do.

  10. Do you agree that anyone born in America should be granted citizenship, or should we evaluate every newborn based on possible value to the state?

  11. If you believe that American-born persons should have unrestricted citizenship, and you believe citizenship requirements should not discriminate based on birthplace, then it only makes sense for persons of any national origin to be granted unrestricted citizenship.

  12. Sorry, I didn’t see that link when I commented last.
    So it seems the article agrees with, basically, the spirit of the DREAM Act, granting alien minors citizenship after a certain period of time.
    Why not grant it to the parents as well?

  13. Pingback: Neither Holy nor Matrimonial « Il Piano

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