News & Politics

Give Us Your Poor and Your Tired, but Make Sure They Wish to Breathe Free

The Statue of Liberty (Getty Images)

 

This week, as I’m trying to get over upper respiratory crud, the world has been going mad over the president referring to some countries as “sh*tholes” and wondering why we need more people from them.

As the left throw themselves on the floor and refuse to breathe, lost in the noise and grinding of teeth is the fact that these words apparently came up during a discussion of the lottery visas that aim to increase our “diversity.”

In other words, these are visas we give to people because they tan an interesting shade, or come from “underrepresented” countries, in order to….  I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. No one has ever, in fact, demonstrated any benefits to “diversity” of genetic background or gender chromosomes, or any other of the protected classes that count as “diversity.”

In fact, what we know of tribal societies trying to transition to the modern/country age is that the more people identify with their tribal sub-identity, the less well integration will work, and the more the country will be held down. Unless that is our intent, then what really is the point?

As for referring to these countries as sh*tholes, really, honestly, do you think he’s not echoing the opinions many people are afraid to voice out loud?

I don’t have an opinion on the definition, mostly because I’m not sure what it takes for a country to be a “sh*thole,” but I would think since some of the countries included can’t even provide clean water to a sizable portion of their population, and more or less live off international charity, they might want to take the tag and wear it. As for President Fox having issues with this monicker, perhaps reining in the rampant corruption in Mexico, curbing the drug lords, providing enough of a rule of law and a free economy that your people don’t need to emigrate en masse, and ensuring your country doesn’t use their remittances for a large portion of their GDP would be a better use of his time than shouting insults at Trump.

But the president is intemperate, and perhaps his not wholly inaccurate use of words is a minor distraction. The real questions on the table are: Why do we have a diversity visa lottery? Why does the left lose their minds at the idea we won’t take people “in need”? Why not take the immigration policy in the direction of “what benefits America” instead of as a sort of charity organization that must favor people from ah… failed countries.

I don’t even necessarily oppose a moratorium on immigration for at least a limited time, but I believe the world is full of potential Americans and that some of them have the skills and the work ethic to be an asset to America.

Even though I came in under a spouse visa, I was ready to demonstrate my eligibility from the standpoint of education, of belief in the ideals of the country, and of money in the bank.

Yes, yes, historically the U.S. has taken the dregs of various societies and made them into proud and successful Americans, and while the poetry on the Statue of Liberty isn’t part of our Constitution, it is part of our self-image.

But here’s the thing: those “dregs” came in wanting to be proud Americans, wanting to assimilate and to belong and to become part of the American story. They didn’t come as part of a diversity quota, with visas given for the greatest “victimhood” and therefore knowing that their victimhood is the most important thing about them, and that they need to hold onto it for dear life. If that had happened, there would have been no lamp lifted beside the gold door, because there would have been no golden gateway to prosperity and freedom.

As an immigrant I can tell you that there are indeed people born abroad who, if not already Americans at heart, can become Americans, indistinguishable from the ones already here.

But it’s highly unlikely we’ll find those by using our immigration policy as a sort of charity organization that looks for and favors those from the worst possible countries.

For one, in our citizen-governed nation, it’s important to figure out what mental habits we are importing, particularly in regards to government and the rights of the governed. When the people we import come mostly from kleptocracies, it’s going to be harder for them to trasition to even the idea of self governance.

For another, in our technological and connected world, the people who come here have to be screened for a desire to integrate and assimilate. Because if they do not wish to, it is trivially easy to remain in touch with the home country and an alien at heart while living here.

And finally, people who come here should either be self-supporting or show the potential to be self-supporting, be it in the form of a skill (not necessarily academic training) or a talent, or something they can contribute to the nation.

Because, ultimately, the immigration policy should be about looking for potential Americans — a policy that got misplaced among other nations, somehow. It should be about finding people who make America strong and successful and capable.

This helps us compensate for the people who, while born here, are manifestly unable to function as Americans.

It should not be about acting as the world’s dumping ground, so countries who can’t govern themselves can use us to hide their failures. Sure, some of those failures will come in, turn their lives around, and become as American as any of us. But the odds are stacked wildly against it if what we’re looking for is to heal the world’s wounds and take in everyone who is uncomfortable, or worse, to take in “diverse” people, where diversity is only skin and culture deep.

Give us your poor, you’re tired, but make sure they wish to breathe free, and above all, make sure they want to be Americans. In fact, give us all your potential Americans. You have no use for them in other countries, and we need them.

They are welcome to stay and enter the golden door.