Let’s talk about clubs.
Not the kind full of drunk college kids on spring break in Miami; the kind you belong to.
When I was a teenager, I was president of my school’s Spanish club. (Ya sé … nerd alert!) The obvious prerequisite was pretty simple: an active interest in Spanish. What if the club wasn’t exclusive? What would happen if kids joined who had no interest in Spanish or the Latino culture, but instead wanted to speak German? Or Korean? Or maybe Farsi?
It would sort of defeat the intended purpose, right?
Let’s park that thought for a minute, and talk about the concept of immigration in this country.
Jorge Ramos, the firebrand Latino commentator famous for his spats with then-candidate Donald Trump and his penchant for illegal immigrants, decided to come out a few days back at Premios Lo Nuestro (“Our Awards”) and declare war:
“There are many people who do not want us to be here, and who want to create a wall in order to separate us. But you know what? This is also our country. Let me repeat this: OUR country, not theirs.”
So in the span of about 10 seconds, Ramos went from demanding that illegal aliens have a right to break the law and stay here, to claiming this country doesn’t actually belong to American citizens who believe in our national sovereignty.
Let’s circle back to my Spanish club illustration: we can apply the very same principles to immigration. The United States of America is an exclusive club, and membership isn’t always granted to just anyone who wants it.
Let me repeat this: The United States of America is an exclusive club, and membership isn’t always granted to just anyone who wants it.
(We’ll get to “why” in a moment.)
Jorge Ramos has got it dead wrong. Not only does his delusional celebration of illegal immigration actually undermine the very reason that millions flee here in the first place (hint: they’re fleeing lawlessness and chaos), but he’s missing the bigger point: access to the United States is not a global human right. He and many others believe that simply by virtue of being here (illegally or not), people are entitled to the benefits of America without actually subscribing to American ideals.
Let’s understand a few things;
First and foremost, the United States is a sovereign nation. Period.
This world is not (at least not yet) one global nation. That means we get to set the rules when it comes to the nearly 7,500 miles of international borderland that separate us from Canada and Mexico and the 12,000+ miles of coastline where international waters meet our shores. That means we have a say when it comes to who comes in. If you don’t like it, find a nation that doesn’t mind giving up its sovereignty for political correctness. The irony in all of this is that every single one of the nations from which immigrants come believes in their own sovereignty, yet often have no problem demanding that we give up ours.
Immigration was never supposed to be a global aid program.
The misinterpretation of the poem on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty (which has weaseled itself into actual public policy) has tempered our attitude towards immigration. Here’s the thing: you don’t think I’d love to swoop in and help every single refugee or poor immigrant child, and give them a chance at better life? Of course, I would. But that’s not how our system was supposed to operate. We’ve stopped looking at what immigration can do for us, as James Madison wrote, “Not merely to swell the catalogue of people. No, sir, it is to increase the wealth and strength of the community; and those who acquire the rights of citizenship.” Instead, we’ve adopted a misguided idea that we’re supposed to be the world’s problem solver. And that’s simply not realistic, nor sustainable.
Which brings me to my next point:
We need to hold accountable the nations who refuse to provide for their people, yet demand that we do it.
There’s a reason why millions come here. They’re fleeing from the hell-holes their leaders have let their homelands dwindle into. Do those nations hold NO responsibility for what they’ve allowed their countries to become?
Lastly, and perhaps MOST importantly:
Our immigration system was intended to grant access to people who wanted to become American.
And no, “becoming American” is not just about becoming a citizen. It’s also not some sophomoric claim many like to assert that it’s about racial/ethnic “purity.” Becoming American is about embracing and sharing the values that have set us apart—regardless of what color your skin is or what language you grew up speaking.
I wrote a piece a few months back immediately following Donald Trump’s election, clarifying what exactly “Make America Great Again” meant. No, it’s not a call for a return to the days of white supremacy (which ironically the Democrat party was largely responsible for, but hey, historical revisionism, right?). It’s the idea that we’ve strayed from what once made us great; the idea that our country is different NOT because of an ethnic population, but because of a set of ideas that were radically (in a good way) different than what the rest of the world had been doing. You know that for thousands of years the rest of the world lived in much the same way, in much the same levels of progress, and under much the same attitude towards individual freedom. Here’s a look at the radical ideas that made us so different:
- The idea that our rights come from our Creator, not government—which means we’re all equal.
- The idea that the Constitution and this Republic can only survive where God has a place.
- The idea that government should serve a limited purpose: to protect all, not provide.
- The idea that a truly free market is the best engine of prosperity ever devised.
Here’s what we need to understand: The rest of the world doesn’t necessarily think this way. In other countries (and especially in Latin America—since we’re talking about Jorge Ramos), government is a MAJOR factor in peoples' everyday lives. Your rights are dictated to you by the government; government’s purpose is to be a major player in the daily lives of its citizens and in the marketplace.
Is it any wonder that after decades of un-assimilation, we have (as I wrote in that same piece) replaced ingenuity and individual responsibility with government, and we’ve paid for it with oppressive taxation. That we’ve replaced our Bill of Rights with opinion and political posturing? That we’ve replaced our free market with cronyism? That we’ve replaced equal opportunity with equal outcome?
This country was (and still is) a very, very rare phenomenon. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s not because we, the American PEOPLE, are better. It’s because the ideas we based our country on ARE.
Yes, immigrants are a major factor in our country. But that does NOT mean we can’t talk about the realities of what immigration and assimilation were supposed to be, what it’s become, and how it’s affecting the pillars that once set us apart.
We can have this discussion, civilly. But let’s check the knee-jerk accusations of racism, bigotry, and abject hatred at the door, shall we? Because if we’re being intellectually honest with ourselves, we all know there’s a whole lot more to this whole thing.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree