Our first president, George Washington, said, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” He was speaking to Irish immigrants in 1783. He knew that we needed great people if we were to become a great nation.
Throughout history, Americans have singled out and harassed different immigrant groups – for example the Irish, the Chinese, now the Mexicans. Each generation looks to blame their woes on immigrants taking our jobs and sponging off our government. But George Washington was right – we need the help of immigrants to build our country, to add to our strengths, to expand our imaginations. A popular tweet reminds us that “Undocumented immigrants didn’t steal your jobs and then get amnesty. You’re thinking of Wall Street bankers.”
Immigration is a complicated problem. It’s naïve to think that we can let everyone into our country. But how do we draw the line about who we let in and who can stay and become citizens? Since the 1880s, several laws have been passed setting quotas on immigration based on various criteria, yet with many exceptions being made for special cases. Our recent government has struggled with this problem. In 2010 the DREAM Act, which sought to provide a pathway to permanent residency for Dreamers, was brought to Congress by bi-partisan sponsors but was held up by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. (Dreamers are the undocumented children of illegal immigrants who had no say in coming to America with their parents.) DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by executive order in 2012 to help Dreamers stay and become a vital part of our country without fear of deportation. Unfortunately, it does not lay out a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, it just defers action on them. They must apply every two years for a work permit. They must have no criminal record to get the permit. These are the easiest immigration cases to handle – it should be a no-brainer to allow them to become citizens. The ploy to end DACA is another attempt to play on our emotions and increase the divisiveness in our country along with the ploys of banning Muslim immigrants and an insistence on building a wall that will do little to stop illegal immigration and that will destroy the cooperation we have enjoyed with the Mexican government which will likely increase illegal crossings. Yes, Congress must address the problem of immigration, but not by the cruel rhetoric that is needlessly putting 800,000 Dreamers in a state of panic by threatening their established life in our country.
Carl Spoerer understands that immigration is a complicated issue, but he will not let racism and fear influence his stances. He will support and work to provide resources for a path to citizenship for immigrants struggling for freedom and who work hard and pay their taxes. He will try to ensure that the path to citizenship is timely and efficient and he will restore and support the DREAM Act and reunification of families. Carl Spoerer will be fair and just to those wishing to join our great country.