What We Should Say About Immigration

We are not against legal immigration.

Our local Catholic parish is incredibly diverse. Our congregants are predominantly Hispanic, but we also have Vietnamese, Korean, and African immigrants among our number. We don’t all dress the same on Sunday morning, we don’t all privately pray in the same language, and our autumn fun festival is more a bazaar of foreign foods than anything else. And I personally have no problem with any of these facts. I think my life has been made all the richer through my interaction with immigrants from all regions of the world.

American is a nation based on creed. So come! Come and contribute to our economy. Come and embrace our representative democracy. Generations ago, my Irish-Catholic ancestors did the same.

As a matter of fact, if you have skills or knowledge we need, we will help you get here quickly and with minimum fuss.

I teach a lot of Korean teens who are here on student visas. They are here because they want to take advantage of our university system, which is the greatest in the world. Trouble is, when these kids finish earning their advanced degrees in business, technology, science, and engineering, they will have to leave the U.S. and apply for re-entry. That’s silly – an unnecessary hassle. We should make it clear to the world’s brightest minds that, should they wish to come to study and work in America, we won’t put obstacles in their way.

Moreover, once you’re here, we will leave you alone (to a point) to observe whatever traditions you wish.

As I said, I work with Koreans. They eat Korean food and speak Korean amongst themselves. This doesn’t bother me at all. And it won’t bother most Americans because most Americans live by the adage “live and let live.” Pray to whomever you wish, eat whatever food you wish, and wear whatever clothing you wish. We won’t care. As a matter of fact, we may decide we want to learn more about your people. I know I would love to learn Korean.

However, we do have some minimum requirements:

You can speak your native language at home, but our public language is English.

Learn our Constitution and live by it. In particular, study the Bill of Rights. We will not countenance attempts to impose a particular religion or ideology on our populace.

Be familiar with our laws and live by them as well. We will not tolerate wife beating, honor killing, or the practice of slavery (among other things).

We have these requirements not because we wish to oppress you, but because we want you to be on an equal footing with all those who came before you.

If you fail to learn English and abide by our laws, you will be trapped in menial jobs with no hope for advancement — and the last thing we want to do is create a permanent underclass.

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