As long as The Associated Press and various other media outlets are redefining how we can speak about people "living in or entering America illegally or without legal permission" ("illegal immigrants" now is verboten), we should finish the job:
Stop referring to those of us who oppose the act of "living in or entering America illegally" as anti-immigration or anti-immigrant. We are anti-illegal immigration. Too often, those who only oppose illegal
We simply think that people should wait their turn, and not butt into line ahead of those who are trying to legally navigate the complex requirements of U.S. immigration policy. It's a matter of fairness.
For that, we're variously labeled bigots, nativists, haters, blah and blah as part of a slanderous, politically motivated public relations campaign. It's a strategy concocted by political schemers, parroted by simple-minded ideologues and bought wholesale by many in the media.
We honor our nation's diversity and recognize the gifts that other cultures have contributed to our melting pot (yes, this is a melting pot), making America such a unique and great nation. We're grateful that someone high in our family tree had the wisdom and guts to strike out for the promise of America. With increased ability to track our ancestors we are delighted and proud to find their names entered into the logs at Ellis Island and other ports of entry. Still, because we oppose illegal immigration and demand that its prevention be part of any reform, we are ridiculed as wanting to build a Berlin-like wall on our Mexican border, require the police to profile every swarthy person in sight and deport 11 million people. It's baloney.
We equally despise those who mask their true anti-immigration and nativist attitudes by pretending they are only fighting illegal immigration. We resent being lumped in with those "America-firsters." We understand America wasn't created just for European white people. Just as we resent the idea that we must blindly accept an 844-page bill, plus 300 amendments, or risk being called "on the wrong side of history" and racist.
The current immigration law that we support is not racist. If the new law is anything like the current one, Mexico will continue to be the largest source of our legal permanent residents, followed by China, India, Philippines and the Dominican Republic.
Current law as well as the proposed new law embodies the idea that we can be selective about who settles here and becomes a citizen. As a sovereign nation, that is our right and responsibility. Letting anyone and everyone in willy-nilly is not in our best interests.
Because America is by far the first choice of immigrants worldwide and we can't accommodate them all, current law has created a complex set of categories giving priority to families, needed skills and geographic origin. No country can exceed 7 percent of all U.S. admissions. We discriminate in favor of those who can strengthen our nation, and this is the thorn that so troubles many of the self-styled immigration reformers.
Now, if someone thinks that the concept of selective immigration is elitist or racist, here's what the legislation, proposed in the Senate by the bipartisan Gang of Eight says:
" . . . this act recognizes that the primary tenets of its success depend on securing the sovereignty of the United States of America and establishing a coherent and just system for integrating those who seek to join American society. We have a right, and duty, to maintain and secure our borders, and to keep our country safe and prosperous. As a nation founded, built and sustained by immigrants we also have a responsibility to harness the power of that tradition in a balanced way that secures a more prosperous future for America. We have always welcomed newcomers to the United States and will continue to do so. But in order to qualify for the honor and privilege of eventual citizenship, our laws must be followed . . .
"As a nation, we have the right and responsibility to make our borders safe, to establish clear and just rules for seeking citizenship, to control the flow of legal immigration and to eliminate illegal immigration, which in some cases has become a threat to our national security."
If there is to be immigration reform, this bill will become the launching pad. And as long as the rest of the bill is true to its stated purpose, most Americans and I are on board.