The New Dirty Word: IMMIGRATION

Of course there is a place for immigration; America is made of immigrants!

But not only America is struggling with immigration, the whole world is. Immigration is a way to bring fresh blood, fresh ideas and fresh ways into a country. So why is it causing so much trouble in today�s world that it is often looked on as just another dirty word?

When I think of immigration, the first thing I think of is love. Two people fall in love, and they migrate to the country of one of the partners. They raise their children in the culture of their new home, and become a part of it. It can be difficult; a new language must be learned, and sacrifices made, at least by one partner, in �fitting in� to that new culture. Often there are hurdles, because one of the pair must find not only a home, but a job, and a livelihood in this new and challenging society. Why challenging? Because of the economy for one thing; today�s citizens, of any country, are finding it hard enough to find a job even if they are natives. And when they see foreigners entering into the job arena, and competing against them, to find a living for themselves and their families, tempers and more can flair up.

But even beyond this, are the problems of immigration for different reasons. Not love, as I mention above, but as a way to get away from their own society, which they are fed up with, either for economic reasons, or just the motivation of greed. As disparity becomes ever greater between Nations, and the word �Democracy� seems to be on every tongue these days, as the universal panacea for fixing what�s wrong with everything; and the word freedom becomes a disputed word whose meaning can take on just about any meaning we want; we are seeing the phenomenon of immigration growing. But is it growing for the right reasons?

Of course, Nations will have problems; and there will always be dissident citizens complaining that they have lost their rights, in one way or another; but today the phenomenon of immigration is becoming also a �quick fix� for what ails citizens. �I don�t like that, so let�s immigrate to�� is now the way to fix a society�s problems. But even more than this is the added phenomenon of illegal immigration. Should countries allow people to break their laws, and immigrate to a country illegally and stay there? Immigration also has two sides to it, the side of motivation and the side of commitment; commitment to the new country you are entering. Motivation is strong in all immigrants, but what about commitment?

Can we find commitment in people who break a country�s laws before they are even accepted in the door? This is going beyond bad manners; it is downright inhospitable; and even arrogant, when these same people protest that they have the right to do this. *

Then there is the security issue. How can any country be secure, when in a world of terrorism, immigration is out of control? Wars on terror with MILLIONS of illegals entering a country, is worse than a bad joke; it is a tragedy waiting to occur ** .

But above all, it gets at the very reason for immigration: to become an integrated, and needed part of that new country�s citizenry. You can�t do that if you are a citizen only in �being here�, while your mind, heart, loyalties and even language, are still with the country you left behind. If that is the case, then you don�t belong in this new country at all.

But what about the country you left behind? If there are truly real problems there, that are causing citizens to leave en mass, is immigration the proper solution? Can the problems of a country really be solved by running away? Or is this just helping the abuses to become even worse?

That brings us to the new ideas about democracy; what it is, and what democratic freedom is. Today, we talk about democracy as a panacea; a great cure for all that ails a world in disorder. We see Nations fighting wars to bring it to other Nations that desperately need it. But can democracy be given; or must it be earned? Even further, are we giving democracy away, or maybe the thing that seems to have become an equivalent to democracy in many minds today, capitalism? Somewhere, sadly, in the minds of many immigrants, the two have become interchangeable. Why is this bad?

Because of that commitment, I mentioned above. There are different commitments attached to democracy, a form of government; and capitalism, a supply system that satisfies individual needs.

And also they entail differing forms of freedom. One (democracy), a freedom where the freedom to hurt is excluded, and none are left behind; and the other (capitalism) is a form of freedom where �anything goes�.

But let�s talk about commitment first. We are seeing the breakdown of commitment in the tremendous amount of slums, alienated communities and outright ghettos developing in immigrant communities forming in developed countries today. They are forming alienated subcultures at odds with the main culture of the country that has given them refuge. They have developed mainly because of the ideas of immigration for capitalistic reasons. Capitalism favors immigration strictly for profit and growth motivations; the social and cultural sides of things, like family, home and ideals, never enter the picture. And sadly, it has gone even further; it seems to have come down to only one thing, especially in illegal immigration: plentiful cheap labor.

Now to speak about commitment in these immigrants is nonsense. How can they feel integrated, and loyal to a country that keeps them subsisting just to be used as basically slaves?

This is even occurring in places like France, and Germany, with legal immigrants, because they have migrated not to become a part of the host country, but to merely survive in it. So commitment to that country is missing, and instead resentment grows.

Then there is the other side of the coin, freedom. People are struggling with this concept too, all over the world today.

But immigration needs the right kind of freedom to truly flourish in the right way: as an integrative, and productive process for both the immigrant and the host country. That cannot occur with immigrants that feel that freedom means, �I can do anything I want to in my new country�; that kind of freedom ends with resentment and distrust all around. But that seems to be the predominant way freedom is being expressed in the �new� immigrant we are seeing today.

The freedom of democracy means all are integrated into the society with the proper commitment to the democracy they have entered, and a kind of freedom that stretches as far as it doesn�t disrupt another citizen�s freedom. This self-limiting freedom is what makes democracy not only possible, but self-sustaining.

The best and greatest example of the proper kind of immigration is shown in the kind of immigration that occurred in America during the early years of the last century. These �old� immigrants, of what has been called America�s �great generation�, showed what true immigration is. From all over the world they came, all showing their determination and loyalty to their new country by becoming American, not only in appearance, but also in commitment, language, culture and fortitude. And when the crucial test came, they answered magnificently; by saving the world for the democratic ideals they embraced; and often by fighting against their own former countries, they saved the world from the ravages of tyranny. What better ideal can there be for immigration then this?

I can only pray that immigrants all over this world will take up their example, and follow in their footsteps, to think about the responsibility immigration entails, not just the advantages; to see that the freedom of immigration is that very same freedom of democracy, and not the freedom of the huckster. It is a freedom that is based on unity, and leaving no one behind.

And immigration is also the responsibility of the developed countries of the world, to show their own that they must assume the responsibilities that emigration entails on them, by not using immigration as a ploy for profit, or political power. Immigration is generally a good thing; but it can also easily become the source of the demise of true freedom, and the rise of selfish power hungry forces that threaten the existence of all freedom.

There is that old saying that goes something like: �I can�t live without them; yet I can�t seem to live with them.� Immigrants should of all things come to grips with this very thing. �Will leaving my country set a proper example for fixing the problems, I believe exist there?� If the answer is no, and you still feel closely connected to the people and culture of that country, then you should seriously reconsider immigration.

As, at the beginning of this essay, I said immigration is often a matter of love, and commitment to family; if that is the case then nothing should stop you; but otherwise, you should seriously reconsider; for how can the world ever progress, if people merely give up and move away from trouble, instead of fixing it? That�s what I meant, when I said democracy and it�s real freedom is earned, not given!

In a utopia, perhaps, immigration will not exist; and not even Nations. But Utopias are the stuff of dreams; in reality, Nations exist, and so does immigration. To make all the Nations of this world equally desirable should be our goal; a goal both realistic and attainable, only, if we make all Nations livable by the people who populate them, but that can only be accomplished by these same people. So immigration should, except for the reason of love, be a method of last resort, if indeed we will continue to create utopias in our minds, and dream of the unattainable being at some point, attainable.



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* Religion often plays a big role in condoning illegal immigration, especially the Catholic Church.

Unfortunately, the Christian religion, since it was empowered with state authority by the Emperor Constantine, has become the handmaiden of the wealthy and powerful, as was shown through the middle ages with its "Divine Right of Kings", and as is shown even in the present, in the Pope's infallibility, and in the following diatribe against Democracy taken from the Encyclical "Immortale Dei" (year: 1885) by Pope Leo XIII:

"That fatal and deplorable passion for innovation which aroused in the sixteenth century, first threw the Christian religion into confusion, and then, by natural sequence, passed on to philosophy, and thence pervaded all ranks of society. From this source, as it were, issued those later maxims of unbridled liberty which, in the midst of the terrible disturbances of the last century, were excogitated and proclaimed as the principles and foundations of that new jurisprudence, previously unknown, which, in many points, is out of harmony, not only with the Christian law, but with the natural law also. Amongst these principles the chief one is that which proclaims that all men, as by race and nature they are alike, are also equal in their life; that each is so far master of himself as in no way to come under the authority of another; that he is free to think on every subject as he likes, and to act as he pleases; that no man has any right to rule over others. In a society founded upon these principles, government is only the will of the people, which, as it is under the power of itself alone, so is alone its own ruler."

Yet this is a direct contradiction to what Christ Himself says in the Gospels: "Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things which are God's.", and to his actions, as when He drove the money changers from the Temple. Yet even reformed Christian religions continue to seek the same lay power Christ told them to avoid, and have in essence been used to perpetuate the capitalistic institutions of wealth, poverty and Charity, and to deem them inevitabilities.

It is interesting to note that this same Pope while totally disparaging democracy, calls for �social justice� in another Encyclical, "Rerum Novarum", in 1891. Social justice is actually a kind of Charity. The �poor� are taken as a �given�, in other words an inevitability. Both these encyclicals are actually condoning the Capitalistic business practices that result in incomplete employment and a class hierarchy. God more or less has again shown Himself as a bigot siding with the wealthy of His �chosen�. �God favors the poor�, but He allows them to be poor for some reason. It seems that even the Almighty cannot control the inevitability of poverty. The Catholic Church should instead, be standing up for the rights of the poor; and protesting in the home country for jobs, and ways to get the poor out of poverty, instead of encouraging them to run away from the problem, and have it treated by charity or its equivalent social justice.

** My stance on illegal immigration may seem hard to some, but we must realize that the law is what is at stake here. If the deterrence to the further breakage of law is not enforced vigorously, the freedom of society itself is gravely in peril (see my essay �Freedom Is Killing America�).

*** Since I wrote this essay, a tremendous tragedy has occurred in Norway. A rightist extremist killed a large number of people to protest the immigration policy of that country. The term �multiculturalism� is a phrase used to describe immigration, which allows many groups of different cultures to arise in a society through the process of immigration. I have talked about a type of �multiculturalism� that capitalism tends to breed (without using that term), that creates many small pockets of isolated cultural groups cut off from the main society of a Nation; this type of multiculturalism I find to be destructive to society in general. I mentioned this in an early essay called "The Effects of Poverty on the Understanding". Rightist fanatics also are against this, but for different reasons than mine; their reasons are purely bigotry against any foreign entities in the state; while I see this type of immigration creating poverty and despair in the cultural groups forced into this situation, and a splintering of the state into many warring factions with the loss of trust in society at large. It is a shame that the bad effects of the hurtful kind of multiculturalism I find distasteful can be played down by the actions of fanatics who use this as an excuse to further their hateful agendas against all immigration. As I have shown in this essay, immigration is a needed aspect of social interaction in the world, but ulterior motives can distort it into something that can cause real harm. Extremism at either end of the spectrum causes problems; just as illegal immigration is creating much of the bad multiculturalism that is destroying society at large. Immigration, on the whole is a good thing; but the kinds that hurt society by destroying trust between people, and allowing people to ignore the responsibility that society demands of all, are grave threats to all societies.



Originally Published:

May 29, 2011


June 29, 2014