and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
April #2

Immigration reform:
What's happened to America the melting pot?
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, April 6, 2006

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...."

Emma Lazarus, inscription on the Statue of Liberty

In my ideal world, only Americans would live in the United States of America.

People who are not real Americans, but who are presently residing here, would be sent, not necessarily to their country of national origin, but to a country that fits their view of what a country should be. For example, much of Hollywood would relocate to Sweden, which never goes to war for any reason, having got all that out of its system when its men were Vikings, pillaging the coasts of Europe.

We should be able to define a real American. Most of us grew up knowing what that was.

There have apparently been some changes that crept in without us noticing. But since I never voted for a new definition, I'm going back to basics.

America is a melting pot, and its citizens speak English perhaps with a heavy accent, but without complaint.

People who do not want to melt, who prefer to keep their culture and language of origin as their primary culture and language, should go back to the country of origin and stay there.

You've heard of "cafeteria Catholics" who want to call themselves Catholic, but don't want to follow the rules of the Catholic Church, the ones I would call "Protestants." Apparently there are "cafeteria immigrants" who just want the benefits of living in the United States, but don't want to follow our rules: I would call them "illegal aliens."

The poem by Emma Lazarus reflects the American dream. However, the Statue of Liberty is on Ellis Island, which was set up to process the tired, poor and huddled who yearned to breathe free. While immigrants no longer have to stop there, the law about being checked in was never repealed, and the poem was never carved in stone along the Rio Grande.

The illegal and legal immigrants and others who were demonstrating in favor of unrestricted immigration apparently prefer a country that welcomes anyone from anywhere at any time. I doubt they can find one; countries, by definition, have borders, which implies some selectivity.

Real Americans really do yearn to breathe free, except for those of us who have been here a while and take that for granted. Immigrants from many countries arrive yearning just like earlier American immigrants, and their grateful presence should remind the rest of us why we are here. Many of them are more American than the ungrateful wretches who constantly put America down, who don't seem to have a clue what this country is all about.

We need more immigrants like our grandparents, who came here to work, to earn the American dream. We need fewer people who think they are somehow entitled to that American dream with no effort on their part. A lot of them have been here for a generation or two.

I don't think we should have to remember all 10 items in the Bill of Rights to be real Americans and stay here. While newer citizens may have learned them recently, the rest of us are a long way from high school civics class. We should, however, still recall the basic principles free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, right to bear arms, freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. Uh-oh.

People who want to substitute politically correct speech for free speech and prohibition of religion for freedom of religion might want to move to some of our college campuses or "progressive" communities, and then secede from the United States. Those who want gun control will have no problem finding a country that does not allow its citizens to arm themselves. Some of these countries are run by dictators, so they should do some research before moving, talk with some recent immigrants from that hellhole. Maybe they can do a house swap.

Certainly people who value safety and security more than liberty can find a better country than ours, though they might want to consider that safety is more an illusion than liberty is.

I wouldn't argue that citizens who protest the war in Iraq should leave; protesting is American. But they should at least support the war on terrorism, and the need to defend our way of life.

Those who argue that we can't send soldiers to save every human being who lives in a country that isn't free should also note that we can't take in every human being who wants to escape from these places. We must consider both affordability and logistics.

But those who argue that we are an evil nation shouldn't hang around in the midst of this alleged evil any longer; they'd probably be happier in some other United Nations country.

In my ideal world, only people who share traditional American values would live here. I suspect that when the others have cleared out, there will lots of room for prospective Americans of all races, creeds and colors to apply for United States citizenship and make this a better country.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.