This week we will look at a few positive aspects of immigration and what can be done to relieve the negative connotations many have assigned to immigration. My forefathers came from England, but I am not an Anglo-American…I am an American. That is the attitude immigrants must take on if we are ever to become a united nation of immigrants. If immigration can be controlled with respect to who is allowed to enter, immigration is a great benefit to a nation. Immigrants who want to come to the United States are, by and large, producers who bring benefit to the economy and helpers who bring other benefits to the society as a whole. Just one of the many great benefits of receiving immigrants was illustrated in October 2009, when Nobel Prizes were announced. Nine people won Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physics, and medicine. Eight of them were American citizens, and of those eight, four were born outside of the United States [Susan Hockfield, “Immigrant Scientists Create Jobs and Win Nobels”, Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2009].
Any changes in the immigration process should also be accompanied by reform in the educational system in the United States, so that the cultural ideas and values that have made America great are taught and passed down to each succeeding generation. Here once again we see the importance of education in this nation. Children growing up in American schools can be taught the moral standards and ideas that have historically been true of the nation. We should certainly continue to require that any new citizens must renounce allegiance to any other nation and swear allegiance to the United States. Some, though, have called for this requirement to be dropped! Law professors Peter Shuck of Hofstra and Peter Spiro of Yale called for dropping the “renunciation clause” from the Oath. They said immigrants should consider themselves to be “Mexican and American”…for example [Peter H. Schuck and Peter J. Spiro, “Dual Citizens, Good Americans”, Wall Street Journal. March 18, 1998]. If for no other reason than care for the future well-being of immigrants, we should require that they speak English. Greater emphasis on the need for all immigrants from every nation to learn English well should be a definite requirement. Out of the current US population of 307 million, current estimates are that 55 million (19.6%) now speak a language other than English at home [U.S. Census Bureau, “Language Spoken at Home”]. English is the one language that enables people to communicate in whatever nation that they travel. English has now attained a status in the world similar to the status that Greek had in the first century, when the apostle Paul could travel to any country and speak Greek and find that he was understood. Basically English is the second language of the whole world. It is simply foolish and cruel to children to allow them to grow up without gaining an excellent knowledge of the English language. Lack of knowledge of English will seriously hinder their ability to achieve excellence and advancement in nearly any career field they choose. The United States needs a population that speaks the same language so that people can communicate well with each other in all parts of the nation and gain a sense of being one nation and one society. We will forever remain a nation of small groups isolated from each other, and we will find it almost impossible to attain any kind of reconciliation or unity across ethnic lines if we do not have a common language.
Immigration reform should be expanded to increase the number of highly skilled people allowed into the country each year in various categories and from various countries. While we have vastly expanded the number of unskilled immigrants we admit through ‘chain’ migration, we maintain restrictions that are far too severe on the visas granted to highly trained scientists, inventors, medical professionals, university researchers, and others with similar qualifications. And especially after September 11, 2001, the United States placed severe restrictions on individuals seeking visas. Immigration laws need to be reviewed, updated, and then enforced.
And then there is the problem of employers hiring illegal immigrants. There are two kinds of harm that come when employers hire illegal immigrants. First, they can exploit them, treat them unfairly, and pay them inadequately because they are quite confident that illegal immigrants will not appeal to any legal authority to correct any injustice done to them. Employers should not do this but unfortunately it does happen. There should be further enforcement of provisions that require employers to verify the immigration status of employees. Employers who do not do this need to be held accountable. The second harm is that when illegal immigrants find jobs in the United States, this provides incentive for other illegal immigrants to try to enter, thinking that they too will find jobs. Another injustice done to illegal immigrants is the harm that comes to many through the illegal trafficking of people. The incentive to come to the US illegally must be removed.
Next week we will take a look at what should or could be done concerning illegal immigrants who are already here. This is a challenge that is facing our government nowadays.
– Bob Munsey