My Thoughts on Immigration
Last night, I attended the Tucson Hispanic Coalition CD8 candidate forum and had the opportunity to speak to their members. As one would expect, the issue of illegal immigration came up.
Most of the candidates responded with the usual: Secure the border, enforce the law, punish those that hire illegal aliens and revamp the immigration system. While I do agree that those points I just listed are needed, I think there's an underlying problem that many are missing and those on both sides of the issue must address to solve it.
You can read all of my views on immigration here: ( http://www.vote4frank.com/belief.htm#bordersecurity )
With that in mind, my response to the question was a little different. Afterward, I went home, captured what I said as best I could and elaborated to fully explain my point on this issue. I've posted it here for you to read:
Right now practically everyone in this room has the answer to the immigration problem in their pocket or purse. The words 'E pluribus unum' appears on our money. That's our national motto: 'Out of many, one.' What that means simply is that many different people, from many different nations, came together to become one. One Nation that has stood the test of time because of what it stands for.
The United States has been called a "melting pot" but the left in this country has been actively undermining the concept of unity by using hyphens to describe everyone. I am an American. I am not an Italian-American and quite frankly I'm sick of people trying to categorize people based on ethnicity. They call for unity yet the deliberately segregate everyone with a punctuation mark.
We've always been willing to open our arms to immigrants and help them become Americans. But the unity we once valued is unraveling. In the past, new Americans were welcomed with a solemn ceremony that matched the commitment they were making to their adopted homeland. They worked hard to join our society and become Americans as fast as they could. When my grandmother Emma came to the United States in 1937 at the age of 19, she didn't demand that the government should provide her everything written in Italian. Instead she learned English as fast as she could because she knew it was the language of the United States and if you wanted to succeed, you'd better learn it.
She didn't demand free health care or welfare or any other handout from the government, she got a job in a dress factory and worked her butt off because she didn't believe it was right to impose on the country that she was a guest in at the time.
When the United States went to war against Italy just seven years after she arrived, she didn't root for the Italians she stood with her fellow Americans and did everything she could to help her country. Her three brothers, my great uncles, joined the military. One of them, my great Uncle Gino, ended up landing on the beaches of Anzio Italy and actually fought against his own cousins. He later earned the Medal of Honor, fighting in Belgium in September of 1944.
During World War II, Italy's alignment with Nazi Germany stoked fierce anti-Italian and anti-immigrant sentiments. Americans of Italian decent often found their patriotism questioned. Gino's heroics and his service fighting for his new country helped change this sentiment.
When people saw Gino come home and heard what he did, it changed their perception about what it means to be American. People saw the first- and second-generation immigrants sacrificing life and limb for the United States and for freedom.
Today in Iraq and Afghanistan, many Americans of Hispanic decent are doing the same thing. They're fighting for the United States, many of them gaining their U.S. citizenship in the process. Just like the Americans of Italian decent did in World War II, they are doing it as Americans, NOT as Hispanic-Americans.
However, millions of foreigners are living here today with no expectation or desire of ever becoming citizens. They're illegal aliens... many have no desire to learn English, they want the trappings of this great country, yet they do not want to be part of it, in fact, many even want part of the United States to become part of Mexico.
"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Now, before you get excited, the above quote isn't mine, it's Theodore Roosevelt's. Back in 1907, there was an influx of immigrants as well; millions as a matter of fact and they weren't coming from Mexico. Roosevelt went on to say:
"We cannot afford to continue to use hundreds of thousands of immigrants merely as industrial assets while they remain social outcasts and menaces any more than fifty years ago we could afford to keep the black man merely as an industrial asset and not as a human being."
This is why I oppose the President's guest worker program. Why I oppose amnesty. Why I believe that we must insist that people wanting to come to this country, come here the right way and become American citizens the right way. They must be willing to assimilate, learn English, renounce their old flag and pledge allegiance to a new one.
When Americans see foreign flags being waived in their streets, see people "demanding" they be granted citizenship, and in the same breath these same people demand that America "adapt" to meet their needs by providing welfare benefits, accommodations for their native language and ignore their resistance to assimilate, it gets most Americans riled up and I believe rightfully so.
The United States is, and will remain, the land of opportunity. But we can't afford to tolerate an underground economy, populated by illegal immigrants who are unwilling to assimilate. If those coming here want acceptance, just like my grandparents did, they will strive to assimilate as soon as possible upon arrival.
On our part, Congress can help by streamlining the current immigration system to speed up the process so those that want to come here to become Americans can do so. We must secure the border, enforce the laws on the books, and crack down on illegal aliens that are trying to step ahead of those trying to get here the right way. We must get tough with employers and municipalities that encourage them by hiring illegal aliens or providing them safe harbor.
The Hispanic community's part is to encourage assimilation into American society and not fall victim to those that want to divide us with hyphens. Provide that vital input to civic and political leaders to find ways to facilitate this. When Americans see the new wave of Immigrants, following the law and showing a sense of patriotism for their new found country, the animosity will begin to subside, much like it did after the Irish and Italian immigrants began to assimilate.
The United States is, and will remain, the land of opportunity. By working together, we can continue our tradition of turning many into one.