The quandary of a nation of immigrants

Let us not forget that once upon a time our ancestors relied on the generosity of Americans who accepted them into this country.

The FilAm Editorial

In the Old Testament, a case was brought to King Solomon by two women both claiming to be the mother of a baby.

Solomon ordered the baby split between the two. One of the women agreed; the second woman said no, let the other woman keep the child. Solomon gave the baby to the second woman because only a real mother would rather the child be kept alive.

In a way, that is the kind of dilemma the United States faces over immigration and the right of asylum.

If the nation were to stay true to its founding principles of providing succor to the great unwashed, the great moral obligation of the United States is to accept those who genuinely seek asylum.

Even before the founding of the country, what became the United States provided shelter for the world’s refugees. The state of Maryland was established back then for the protection of Catholics who were persecuted in other states.

Down through the centuries, the nation gave those refugees similar protection, be they Italians or Irish, Filipinos or Chinese. Their descendants flourished in the New World. They contributed to the enrichment of the United States.

That is the bedrock upon which the generous impulses of the country were founded. It is a nation where, except for the Native Americans, everyone — and we mean everyone — came from somewhere else.

The rest of the world is also now in the process of tinkering with their immigration laws and letting more people in because the number of workers is not enough to sustain their  economies. The Japanese and Germans are in that boat.

But good economics aside, the U.S. is agonizing about the sheer number of immigrants flocking to its shores seeking asylum. What increases the angst for white Americans, stoking the toxic brew of racism in that segment of the population, is that the asylum seekers are brown.

Immigration and the right of asylum is now intertwined with the racially tinged politics of this country, causing a partisan bent that causes gridlock and prevents the compromise which could solve its policy divisions.

There is no honest discussion whether  the country can accept more people when there are certain  Americans who need help to deal with their poverty and lack of economic opportunity. The answer to these issues is complicated and not easy.

For groups that are privileged by virtue of their color and status, asking them to sacrifice is not an easy ask given their own prejudices. Immigration is still good for the United States, but a willingness to compromise is needed. And we are not sure if that spirit is available among the people of this country.

We will need to exorcise the mean-spiritedness and spite of certain sectors that have seemingly forgotten that their own ancestors once upon a time relied on the generosity of Americans who accepted them into this country.

(C) The FilAm 2023

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