It’s been over a week now since your editorial, “Build a Wall or Open the Borders?” appeared and enlisted a challenge to your readers to present our views on immigration. That question has kept me thinking about the issue of immigration and how I might respond, if at all.
After pondering all the points offered by your writer, Bev Stenehjem, I’ve come to realize that the issue of immigration is very complex and multifaceted. It seems that each answer I came up with, produced a complete new set of questions to consider.
I kept going back to, and so decided to focus on the title question: “Build a Wall or Open the Borders?”
Given these two choices, I would prefer an open border to a wall.
I cannot recall a wall ever being included in an effective immigration policy. Walls are used to divide, isolate and repress. Our proposed wall seems to be doing so even before the first stone is set. Building a wall along any of our borders can only be as effective as our ability to defend it. Our wall will need to include observation towers, armed guards, and secure checkpoints. Americans will no longer be able to move freely and easily through our borders. A wall has two sides. Living behind one in America is plainly un-American.
The most obvious argument against an open border is a resultant tidal wave of immigration through our southern border, bringing in criminals, drugs, and malcontents. It is estimated that currently among us are 11 million immigrants that are undocumented. This indicates to me that anyone who wants to be here already is, and since all are regarded as criminals and must live in the shadows, we’re not able to distinguish the undesirables from hard working honest contributors.
An open border (along with proper documentation policy) will eliminate the need for honest, hardworking immigrants to live in hiding. No longer will they need to live in fear of exploitive employers and accept only jobs that pay cash under the table, forgoing income tax and social security payments the rest of us make. This will level the playing field between employers that follow our employment laws and those who skirt the law by knowingly hiring and exploiting undocumented workers who have no choice but to remain silent.
Immigrants will now be able to obtain driver’s licenses requiring them to demonstrate knowledge of our traffic laws, and proficiency behind the wheel. They will be able to properly register their vehicles, and buy insurance, just like the rest of us. Immigrant families would now be able to live openly and proudly, teaching their children not to live in fear, but to take pride in their adopted homeland, and respect our laws. In short, they can live the American dream.
I, as do most Americans, come from immigrants. My ancestors left their European homelands during the late 1800’s through early 1900’s to make a better life for their children and future generations.
Their goal was the Golden State of California, not for the gold in them thar’ hills, but for the golden sunshine that produced for them the finest fruits and vegetables ever brought to market.
From these humble beginnings, came four generations of patriotic and successful Americans, who fought in wars for the freedoms and opportunities held so dear. Americans who started successful businesses, entered professional fields, or became skilled tradespeople. All of us were taught to be thankful and proud of what we have as Americans. We were taught to respect others, even those whose heritage, customs, and origins were different from ours.
Our nation was founded and built by determined, tenacious immigrants and immigration has truly played a major role in making America great, and will continue to do so. I see nothing to fear by maintaining an open border policy, and much to fear if we embark on walling our borders.