A Simplified Process: Restoring Humanity and Compassion with a Clear Path Forward.
Love, war, poverty, death, cleanliness, opportunity, health, escape, and safety are some of the many reasons people try to immigrate to our country. Our ancestors had the same ideas, escape tyranny, become a sanctuary, a melting pot of good ideas, uplifting cultures, and people from around the world. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...” one of the founding American sentiments that we seem to have stepped away from. We’re told, time and again, of the terrors that live outside our borders, scared into feeling like children who cannot discern the truth of someone’s character. We’re told that an open border is a border without protection, without safety measures, without limit. We’re told that the only way to stay safe, is to stay closed.
Immigration is in our blood, both as US citizens and as Utahns. Have we forgotten that the pioneers were driven across the plains, at gunpoint, for holding fast to their differing opinions and religious beliefs? Why are we so afraid to admit that we can do better? We’re afraid to put ourselves in the shoes of anyone who wasn’t born here. We don’t fully understand the cost, emotional, physical, or financial, of the immigration process, many spending over $1,000 just for the possibility of America’s freedom. Few people know the tests that are administered, let alone the answers to the questions. Fewer people understand the pain of waiting 20+ years for the possibility of immigration. And an even smaller few understand the immediate fear from tyrants, dictators, and militant police. Our immigration processes are prohibitive and daunting.
It is time to open our eyes and understand exactly what we’re doing. There are children across the United States that are being separated from their families, some of them are people who are trying to do the right thing but aren’t given a chance. Those that come into the country are, more often than not, seeking to contribute, to better their lives and the lives of their families. Programs are not in place to help, only to destroy. All the while large companies get away unscathed while they perpetuate the problem. Millions of illegal immigrants work in agriculture, child care, food, service, hospitality, and recreation because companies want to cut payroll expenses. On one hand, our policies are unforgiving, and on the other, they’re entirely blind.
The idea that we’d accept immigrants if they’re legal sounds good on paper but there is little of it found in practice. Many who have come to the country legally, some of them even born on US soil, are still belittled and targeted with racism and bigotry, left wondering where they fit in. Blanket statements like “immigrants are rapists and murders” are handcrafted, detrimental racism that fails to understand the beauty and importance of different cultures and opinions. Until we can listen to those who have come to our country with compassion and a true desire to help, we will continue to find ourselves in a poisonous echo chamber of hatred and fear.
The statue of liberty, the universally accepted icon of American ideals, states, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!". How true is this now? How have we forgotten? We profess the sacred nature of families, we speak of our immigration history with reverence for sacrifice, we proclaim understanding, openness, and industry. Our words are strong, but our actions tread firmly on the promise of our nation’s great symbol of liberty.
It is time to reassess.
We must, first and foremost, be 100% open and honest with ourselves. We need to change. Admitting fault and taking full responsibility is not a weakness, it is a courageous sign of true leadership and integrity. Our own freedoms mean less when we stop openly affording them to those who seek it. We must remember our heritage and offer inclusive, intuitive systems that deter overstayed visitor visas and illegal border crossings encouraging legal immigration under the law.
The cold, systematic separation of families stops now. There is plenty that needs to change and there are lots of people to blame. Who’s at fault doesn’t matter, our leaders need to own their responsibility and put their foot down with the firm declaration that this is wrong and it stops now. The same must be said of racist blanket ideas that every foreign person is a murdering terrorist. Our leaders need to stand in defense of the innocent with hopes of bettering their lives and that of their families.
It is time to redefine “open borders”. No one, I repeat, NO ONE wants our country’s borders to be unprotected or unregulated. What we do want is a non-biased policy that openly accepts the people who want to join our great nation. We want policies and people in place that can both protect us from real, dangerous threats and treat those who are sincerely seeking refuge with compassion and understanding. We want our country’s name to be synonymous with bright futures and untold promises, a country that returns to the sentiments etched in the statue of liberty, that we will accept and take care of those that others will not.
We need to restructure the whole system, creating something new that’s founded first and foremost on the ideals of honesty, compassion, and understanding. Our country was built on immigration. Our economy thrives when it’s infused with diversity and hard workers trying to build something new. Our citizens are proud when they’re celebrated for their histories and integrity. It is, of course, important that we remain cautious and include restrictions on criminal histories and a company’s external hiring processes, but we can’t let these cautions cloud our judgement and keep us closed off and heartless. We want all other countries to look up to us as a country that leads with strength and protection. We want them to see a country filled with love, compassion, and hope; a country our ancestors would be proud of. We should always strive to be a country that stands together with our hearts and arms wide open, ready to welcome others, one that inspires its people to want to say, “I’m proud to be an American”.