Kinda opinionated there aren't you?

A Chat About Immigration


An old friend of mine sent me a note in which we exchanged discussion about immigration. I thought it to be an interesting dialog worth sharing. I respect his opinion a great deal and have witnessed his work firsthand enough to know he speaks as someone that has worked hard his whole life and paid more than his share of taxes. Since he more or less labeled this as one old fart talking to another (the audacity), I wanted to reflect that in the title. I know a lot of people are still processing all of this so here’s another view.

To me

You seem to be interested in all the crazy stuff that goes on in Washington, so here is my two cents worth.

OK our country has always had our doors open to anyone who is having difficulties in their home country for whatever reason. Unless you are a Native American Indian your ancestors came here from somewhere outside of the US.But the big difference is when our ancestors came here they had to learn to speak English. They had to make it on their own with no help of any kind from the government.They survived.

Now we think we have to take care of everybody who is having a difficult time. This is only going to get worse as people flood into the US. I am more concerned about this than the chance terrorists attempt to move here. We need to make it very difficult to enter our country to visit or become citizens. If you prove you were not a welfare case in your home country, but had a career of some sort professional or tradesman of some sort, then you are welcome. If you committed any kind of crime back home, you are not welcome.

The way it is progressing right now we just continue to increase the ratio of people wanting a free ride for themselves and all their children vs the people who actually work hard every day to support themselves and their children, and pay more and more taxes to pay for all the welfare. I would have no problem at all if we closed the borders to everyone. That would stop the entry of terrorists and people wanting a free ride.

Guess I am just getting old and grumpy.

From me

So, I am a bit schizophrenic the truth be known. I agree with a lot of your words. I want a strong border, I want strong vetting, and I want you to adopt our culture and our language if you chose to live here.

I guess I disagree when people think all  we ever get from immigrants is the worst, the freeloaders, and those looking for a hand out. We likely won WWII because of an immigrant (Einstein), we communicate on our phones constantly largely traced back to an immigrant background (Steve Jobs). The list is almost endless. In fact America is great (and I believe it is already) due in great part to immigrants. I can’t imagine America without them.

I’ve had the benefit of a lot of worldly travel and met some incredible people along the way. That exposure has created a pretty optimistic view of the world in a guy that can be pessimistic. Can’t say I always understand it. Its lead me to draw a conclusion that is still TBD in my life. I tend to believe (at least categorically, not absolutely) that the world and our place in it  is exactly what we believe it to be.

Sounds crazy I know, but I try to pay attention to evidence. I’ve watched (and experienced in my own life) people that have believed in their soul that they would succeed and they have, people that believed they were victims and the world was against them and it was, people who believed they were loved or unloved and they were. I have seen far less evidence of people believing in their soul one thing and ending up with the opposite. This is a simplification of course and exceptions abound, but I hope you get my directional point.

For me I have come to believe in people, in many cases completely in the face of evidence otherwise. Frankly, I have no idea where it comes from, but it shapes my world and pays dividends. Turning my back on all immigration is tantamount to giving up on people.

Does it need to be done right? Absolutely. Does it need to be stopped for the safety of us all? I can’t conclude that.

You can label this naive, and I couldn’t argue the point. But I try to live out this experiment of my life with a strong observation of cause and effect. Doing that,  I have to conclude my life is better, not worse because of immigrants. Are there evil ones, have they killed Americans, do some of them absolutely hate us? Without question yes,  but so do our own citizens and probably to a higher proportion.

I try not to live my life in fear or let terrorists, the Soviets, government officials, or anyone lead me around with fear (not implying anything here). I do have fears though. What I see and fear are forces manipulating us for an agenda that we think is ours but in truth may not be at all.

I fear my loss of freedom more than anything and it is far more important to me than safety. Our forefathers believed the same, they died for it, they spent decades in jail for it, they ended up suffering unimaginably for it. It has taken my whole life to get to this place and really understand why they would do that, but I think I get it now more than ever.

Many people look at what’s going on and see our freedoms being protected, others see it being eroded. I get and respect both views. For me, I live in the middle and see absolutes and extremes as dangerous things and it surely colors most of my actions.

So, in terms of immigration, I choose  to believe in people. In the immigrants, in the citizens of the US, and even those setting policy. That means I have a predisposition to believe all of these people are trying to do what they believe is right (at least at a default starting point). This can be a dangerous way to live, as you accept you will be wrong sometimes and get abused. Its happened to me plenty, but I accept the small bad for the larger good.

Do I work to pay for freeloaders, yes more than I like. Do people not even get whose money the government is spending? Yes, far too much. Can we do better at getting people off the dole, that may be one my favorite beliefs.  But I think of all of those things as a tax worth paying to be a free American. I might even believe our elected officials piss away far more than we spend on the scummy freeloaders.

So, yes to most of your comments – strong vetting, assimilate to our culture and beliefs, be good stewards with our limited funds and pursue abuse. I would not want it any other way and I believe we have the people and foundations in place to do just that. But close our borders? For me the answer is never, far too much to lose. I’m proud of my Irish German heritage, but not near as proud as I am to be American. And we were given the Statue of Liberty for a reason, a reason we should examine closely. So, my pride is based on our ideals and we better be damn careful as we tinker with them.

From where I sit, we need immigrants, those that will work hard to make America great and support us old guys. We actually need help in growing our population in the U.S. or we have other problems. I look at Silicon Valley, shaping our future and shudder to think what happens if those immigrants ended up in China or elsewhere. I know you do too, your note stated as much. “If immigrants add value, let them in.” to paraphrase.

By the way, I am one of those freeloaders in a sense. My mother died when I was 17, my father was diagnosed with ALS shortly thereafter. The government gave me Social Security money, that I did little to deserve but be born. I consider it an investment well spent though, as I have paid it back 10 fold.  Without it I am confident I would have contributed far less. So, giving people a “handout” doesn’t always result in a loss, even though sometimes it does. As in most things, application is far more important than whether to spend or not spend our tax money.

I start my assumptions of what I see today, as an effort to do what’s right until I see proof otherwise. That doesn’t mean I don’t question it (I question everything). But, I have to say prayer for this countries direction can’t be a bad thing. We have much more growing to do.

I appreciate the note, and hope you take my response in the spirit given, just a guy trying to find his way.

The Final word

You wrote so much, I decided to paste your reply into this document, so I can respond to each paragraph. To preface this I am sure you understand I was an old man blowing off steam. I don’t really think closing the borders to everyone is an option.
You said: So, I am a bit schizophrenic the truth be known. I agree with a lot of your words. I want a strong border, I want strong vetting, and I want you to adopt our culture and our language if you chose to live here.

My comment:I agree totally with this. 
You said: I guess I disagree when people think all  we ever get from immigrants is the worst, the freeloaders, and those looking for a hand out. We likely won WWII because of an immigrant (Einstein), we communicate on our phones constantly largely traced back to an immigrant background (Steve Jobs). The list is almost endless. In fact America is great (and I believe it is already) due in great part to immigrants. I can’t imagine America without them.

My comment: I never said all we get is free loaders. We have immigrants who are doctors, scientists, teachers, and we get immigrants who fill a need we have for manual laborers such as roofers, construction workers, farm workers, and low end workers like you see in fast food restaurants. I welcome all these people to our country if they contribute productively to our society.

You said: I’ve had the benefit of a lot of worldly travel and met some incredible people along the way. That exposure has created a pretty optimistic view of the world in a guy that can be pessimistic. Can’t say I always understand it. Its lead me to draw a conclusion that is still TBD in my life. I tend to believe (at least categorically, not absolutely) that the world and our place in it  is exactly what we believe it to be.

My comment: We cannot be an isolated country. We need to be part of the world in commerce. The people in the rest of the world are of the same fabric as Americans. We all came from other countries. My ancestors came from Germany, England and Scotland.
You said: Sounds crazy I know, but I try to pay attention to evidence. I’ve watched (and experienced in my own life) people that have believed in their soul that they would succeed and they have, people that believed they were victims and the world was against them and it was, people who believed they were loved or unloved and they were. I have seen far less evidence of people believing in their soul one thing and ending up with the opposite. This is a simplification of course and exceptions abound, but I hope you get my directional point.

My comment: I understand what you are saying.
You said: For me I have come to believe in people, in many cases completely in the face of evidence otherwise. Frankly, I have no idea where it comes from, but it shapes my world and pays dividends. Turning my back on all immigration is tantamount to giving up on people.

My comment: As I said above, I don’t really want to stop immigration.

You said:Does it need to be done right? Absolutely. Does it need to be stopped for the safety of us all? I can’t conclude that.

My comment: I agree. In fact this is the main point I was making. There must be away to filter immigration. 
You said: You can label this naive, and I couldn’t argue the point. But I try to live out this experiment of my life with a strong observation of cause and effect. Doing that,  I have to conclude my life is better, not worse because of immigrants. Are there evil ones, have they killed Americans, do some of them absolutely hate us? Without question yes,  but so do our own citizens and probably to a higher proportion.

My comment: I am more concerned with insuring our new immigrants are going to be productive members of society. You cannot easily determine if an immigrant will be a terrorist.

Not only that but terrorists could enter our country without coming through the normal channels.

You said: I try not to live my life in fear or let terrorists, the Soviets, government officials, or anyone lead me around with fear (not implying anything here). I do have fears though. What I see and fear are forces manipulating us for an agenda that we think is ours but in truth may not be at all.
My comment: I agree.

You said: I fear my loss of freedom more than anything and it is far more important to me than safety. Our forefathers believed the same, they died for it, they spent decades in jail for it, they ended up suffering unimaginably for it. It has taken my whole life to get to this place and really understand why they would do that, but I think I get it now more than ever.

My comment: I agree.

You said: Many people look at what’s going on and see our freedoms being protected, others see it being eroded. I get and respect both views. For me, I live in the middle and see absolutes and extremes as dangerous things and it surely colors most of my actions.

So, in terms of immigration, I choose  to believe in people. In the immigrants, in the citizens of the US, and even those setting policy. That means I have a predisposition to believe all of these people are trying to do what they believe is right (at least at a default starting point). This can be a dangerous way to live, as you accept you will be wrong sometimes and get abused. Its happened to me plenty, but I accept the small bad for the larger good.

My comment: No problem with any of this.

You said: Do I work to pay for freeloaders, yes more than I like. Do people not even get whose money the government is spending? Yes, far too much. Can we do better at getting people off the dole, that may be one my favorite beliefs.  But I think of all of those things as a tax worth paying to be a free American. I might even believe our elected officials piss away far more than we spend on the scummy freeloaders.

My comment: Let’s help people who are needy or hungry, but let’s not have a system that does nothing to help people get out of their situations and encourages them to stay on welfare.
You said: So, yes to most of your comments – strong vetting, assimilate to our culture and beliefs, be good stewards with our limited funds and pursue abuse. I would not want it any other way and I believe we have the people and foundations in place to do just that. But close our borders? For me the answer is never, far too much to lose. I’m proud of my Irish German heritage, but not near as proud as I am to be American. And we were given the Statue of Liberty for a reason, a reason we should examine closely. So, my pride is based on our ideals and we better be damn careful as we tinker with them.

My comment: Again I do not want to close the borders. When my great grand parents came over from Germany, they had very little. They bought 12 acres in what is now Shively. They had a truck farm and a blacksmith shop. The children and grandchildren all helped. They contributed to our society rather than depending on it. 
You said: From where I sit, we need immigrants, those that will work hard to make America great and support us old guys. We actually need help in growing our population in the U.S. or we have other problems. I look at Silicon Valley, shaping our future and shudder to think what happens if those immigrants ended up in China or elsewhere. I know you do too, your note stated as much. “If immigrants add value, let them in.” to paraphrase.
My comment: I agree with all of this.

You said: By the way, I am one of those freeloaders in a sense. My mother died when I was 17, my father was diagnosed with ALS shortly thereafter. The government gave me Social Security money, that I did little to deserve but be born. I consider it an investment well spent though, as I have paid it back 10 fold.  Without it I am confident I would have contributed far less. So, giving people a “handout” doesn’t always result in a loss, even though sometimes it does. As in most things, application is far more important than whether to spend or not spend our tax money.

My comment: You were not a free loader. Your parents worked and paid into the system. Something very unfortunate happened and you deserved what you received.
You said: I start my assumptions of what I see today, as an effort to do what’s right until I see proof otherwise. That doesn’t mean I don’t question it (I question everything). But, I have to say prayer for this countries direction can’t be a bad thing. We have much more growing to do.

My comment: I too hope we can improve our immigration screening, and methods of assisting people in need. We are a democracy and can establish policies and laws to make our country even greater.

Additional comments: Like I said people are welcome to immigrate here and others can come here also to work  with green cards. But they need to obey the laws or be sent back. I lived in Woodford County for 15 years right in the middle of horse farm country. The horse farms attracted and needed workers from Mexico, but we had a serious problem. The weekly Woodford paper reported court cases and the majority of them were Mexicans who were arrested for DUI, no license and no insurance. In my opinion these people do not deserve to live here temporarily or permanently. 

If you want to become a US citizen, learn the language, obey the laws, and be a productive member of society. That’s all I ask. That’s not asking any more than we have asked of all new citizens over the last 200 years.

Author’s note: – It is an interesting perspective from the middle. I continue to find both sides agree more on some of the core tenets than the press or social media would have you believe. There is vast disagreement on implementation of many things but America remains united in many beliefs and in that there is hope. I am not foolish enough to believe that is universal, nor there aren’t plenty with their own agendas, but I believe this country belongs to the people and that might be the best thing we have going for us right now.

This was published with the contributors permission.

 

 

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