Immigrants strengthen and enrich our culture
December 18, 2015
OPINION by PETE EVANS
There is much talk about immigration these days, especially concerning the plight of the multitudes of Syrians fleeing their country due to war and terror.
I believe we have in place a method of investigation and vetting of new immigrants. No one wants to welcome anyone with ill feelings for our country. The issues are fairly simple in concept and number.
First off, can we even afford to take in refugees? If not then we should not. But of course we can, we have so much money and so many resources we can do anything we want to do. Do refugees cost us anything in the long run? Read the Cato report below, they actually add to our GNP.
Secondly, and more importantly, should we take in refugees? Well, what is our moral compass? Do we have one? I feel some responsibility to help out those in need, don’t you?
I could cite many cases where we created crises and then took in refugees from those locales (Central America, SE Asia and Iraq for example). Of course the few we took in hardly made up for the mayhem we caused. Our corrupt and mismanaged foreign policy is not the issue in this essay, but rather the aftermath is. I am shamed by some of our historical behavior regarding immigration and refugees.
Sometimes these two categories are lumped into one of Displaced Persons. We pretty much ignored the plight of European Jews in WW2. Only near the end did we step up immigration; due to Congressional inaction Harry Truman had to issue an executive order to increase relief for displaced persons.
We outright banned Chinese for many years, after they slaved building our railroads. Japanese in the early ’30s had a tough time landing here. During WW2, after we had imprisoned many Americans of Japanese descent, the 442nd Regiment was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare-all were Japanese American soldiers! So much for questioning their allegiance.
In recent history little Jordan has put up 672,000 displaced persons. Germany (with 1/4 our population) has taken one million refugees. We plan to take in a mere 10,000 next year. And now there is much talk about choking off that paltry number. Sweden and other Scandinavian countries have taken many more per capita than we have. France has long been a bastion for those displaced by strife or war. And at times, so have we.
Our European allies are taking in many displaced persons. We owe them some relief from the burden of this flood of refugees. We can easily handle the cost and inconvenience. It seems we have to see if we can handle the irrational fear that certain politicians have attempted to instill in us.
There is never any lack of scapegoating of our Mexican neighbors, especially those who come here for a better life. For a time I had a couple rental houses in another city. Without a shred of hesitation, I tell you my best tenants were always Mexicans. They outshone anyone born here by a magnitude of kindness, honesty and integrity.
Whenever I see or hear Americans (usually white ones) denigrating Mexicans, I am reminded how ignorant and spoiled the complainers are.
Without a doubt all Americans are concerned with security, imposing overly restrictive limitations on compassion for displaced persons will not achieve the safety we crave. In fact our very souls will be diminished by such selfish and shameful action. Those who were born here should thank the heavens for such frightfully good luck. Many others were not so lucky. We can even the score somewhat by helping out.
From the Cato Institute (a respected libertarian think tank):
“The overriding impact of immigrants is to strengthen and enrich American culture, increase the total output of the economy, and raise the standard of living of American citizens. Immigrants are advantageous to the United States for several reasons: (1) Since they are willing to take a chance in a new land, they are self-selected on the basis on motivation, risk taking, work ethic, and other attributes beneficial to a nation. (2) They tend to come to the United States during their prime working years (the average age is 28), and they contribute to the workforce and make huge net contributions to old-age entitlement programs, primarily Social Security. (3) Immigrants tend to fill niches in the labor market where demand is highest relative to supply, complementing rather than directly competing with American workers. (4) Many immigrants arrive with extremely high skill levels, and virtually all, regardless of skill level, bring a strong desire to work. (5) Their children tend to reach high levels of achievement in American schools and in society at large.”
Pete Evans is a resident of San Luis Obispo.