News & Politics

Pro-Sanctuary Crowd Shocked to Learn Legal Immigrants Might Disagree

Feld workers pick onion bulbs on a Vidalia onion farm in Lyons, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

No matter how carefully you tread, leftists tend to lump all immigrants together. If you advocate cracking down on illegal immigration, progressives screech about how immigrants built this country or recount some sob story about an immigrant they knew who fled to the U.S. for a better life. They can’t seem to grasp that there’s a difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration, and that no one really takes issue with those who came here legally.

Leftists in Howard County, Maryland, were surprised to learn that some of those who oppose their efforts to make the county a sanctuary community are … immigrants.

At first blush, making Howard County a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants had seemed a natural move: The county has twice as many Democrats as Republicans and a highly educated population, full of scientists and engineers. One in five residents was born abroad.

But the bill met stout opposition from an unlikely source: some of those very same foreign-born residents.

In passionate testimony before county legislators, and in tense debates with liberal neighbors born in the United States, legal immigrants argued that offering sanctuary to people who came to the country illegally devalued their own past struggles to gain citizenship.

Some even felt it threatened their hard-won hold on the American dream.

Their objections stunned Democratic supporters of sanctuary here and helped bring about the bill’s demise in March. A similar proposal for the state collapsed this month in the Maryland Senate, where Democrats also hold a two-to-one advantage. Some of the same immigrants spoke out against it.

It’s unlikely that Democrats learned the important lesson here — the lesson that not all immigrants are the same.

Illegal immigrants sneak across the border, ignoring immigration law. Legal immigrants had to jump through numerous costly hoops in the hopes of being permitted to enter the United States.

By acting as if all immigrants are in the same boat (no pun intended), Democrats have devalued the experiences of legal immigrants. They’ve revealed a profound naivety about the struggles of legal immigrants, struggles that took place on foreign shores, in order to hold up those who have ignored those same struggles and took the easy road but now want protection from the ramifications of their actions.

Their experiences are not similar, and the sooner Democrats learn to comprehend that tidbit, the sooner we can have a meaningful discussion about just how to deal with those who enter this country illegally.

Until then, Democrats will continue to reveal just how little they understand about the people they claim to champion.