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From the Kitchen Table


Negative Progress

by Peg Luksik
 

In the debate over illegal immigration, perhaps we should begin with the
words of the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of
Liberty:

*Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,…*

It's interesting that America did not ask for the rich and famous, she
welcomed those who had nothing. And they came by the thousands. In fact,
almost all of us can identify at least one ancestor who passed by that
inscription.

The question that needs to be asked in today's debate is, "Why did they
come?"

The short answer is that in America they didn't HAVE TO be a member of the
huddled masses. If they followed the rules and worked hard, they had a
chance to climb out of the huddle. It was as if America suspended a ladder
over the head of every person who passed that Statue, and offered that
person the challenge of climbing it. And while a guarantee of success is
never possible, there was a guarantee of opportunity for those willing to
accept America's challenge.

It didn't matter what country you came from because now you were an
American. And our ancestors were proud to proclaim themselves as such. They
embraced the culture, the language, and the opportunity, and built a place
that continues to attract those who want something more for themselves and
their children.

Illegal immigration attacks every aspect of that reality.

The attack begins with undermining the very foundation of the liberty that
sustains our greatness — equality before the law. Illegal immigration says
that only some people have to follow the rules, that behavior has only has
consequences some of the time. And when those who try to follow the rules
see that the ones who break them are not only allowed to do so, but
actually receive benefits from their noncompliance, the ranks of the
non-compliant grow.

The second attack is on the illegal immigrants themselves. Most of them
came for the same reasons as the people who passed by our Statue. They
were looking for something more.

The responsibility for enforcing America's rules does not belong to them. It
belongs to every elected official who decided to ignore his obligation to
enforce the laws of this nation. It belongs to every employer who decided
that hiring an illegal under the table was cheaper than hiring an American
above it. It belongs to every special interest group that decided that it
could build its ranks, and therefore its influence, on the backs of the
immigrants.

Our immigrant ancestors, who followed the rules, either learned English
themselves, or made sure their children did, as quickly as possible. So
they did not require an organization of translators to help them
participate in American life. They got legitimate jobs, where they not
only paid taxes, but they could be promoted. So they did not require the
assistance of any government agency. They not only voted, they could run
for office. So they could become full participants in not just our
culture, but our government.

For the most part, illegal immigrants don't learn to speak English, they
don't get legitimate jobs, and they can't run for office. The ladder of
opportunity that comes with entering America correctly is never offered to
them.

Instead, America now has a sub-culture that is not American existing within
its borders.

And the combination of rewarding rule-breaking and enabling a non-American
culture creates a progression that eventually moves a society from
liberty-based-on-law to anarchy-based-on-fear to tyranny-based-on-power.

When that progression is completed, America will no longer need to worry
about illegal immigration.


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