July 26, 2009

The Melting Pot (Present Day)

Let's face it. This country doesn't really have the best history in dealing with immigrants, both legal and illegal. There was that whole nasty discrimination thing in the 1840s (German- and Irish-Americans loved that) and then there was the Gentleman's Agreement in 1908 that basically ruined anyone Japanese's chance of coming to the States. And then there's today. We newly enlightened Americans are letting our foreign cousins in without discrimination- right?

Apparently not.

Illegal immigration is a crime. That's true. But is it really the worst crime? I don't think so. I think a more serious crime is the discrimination that millions of people face because they are suspected or proven of falling into the "illegal immigrant" category. After all, how would you like it if you decided to move to another country to avoid war and poverty and fatal illnesses- and not only was it impossible to get papers, but even if you got them you were shunned and despised by the native-born residents of that country?

I would guess it's not a pleasant feeling.

I don't know about you but I kind of thought that once President Obama took office, the immigration situation would be at least slightly resolved. I thought we'd see a few more bouts of amnesty granted to the "illegals" already living in this country, and then some immigration reform passed that would make it a lot easier to come in, or at least easier to stay.

But of course then the recession showed up, and then distrust of foreigners skyrocketed even more than it already had, and then there were (as always) those constantly-present jingoists who insist that because America is America and because apple pie and football are important only Americans can live here.

And hey, it would be nice if we could fix up the bureaucracy enough to let in the immigrants without making them wait ten thousand years. But that's going to take a while. And meanwhile we, the enlightened American citizens of the post-racism age, might want to think a little bit more about what we could do to help our neighbors.

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