"We have room for but one flag, the American flag... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
- Teddy Roosevelt, 1907
I got up in the middle of the night only to find a perfect stranger sitting in my living room and watching my television. When I demanded to know who he was and why he was in my house, his only response was that it didn't matter; he had gotten into my house, established residence there, and now I had to accept the fact. And, by the way, he had cut himself when he entered, and would need one of my Band-Aids.
I called the legal authorities who assured me that while they sympathized, I must understand that they just did not have the manpower to watch every street leading to my house or to pick up every person who might decide to reside in my house without my knowledge.
While the forgoing account is, of course, fictitious it is also precisely the quagmire our country now finds itself in. We've allowed what was essentially a security problem to become a social problem. For generations, we have allowed this tunneling under the walls of the legal fortress of America to become, according to U.S. Immigration officials, a $10 billion-a-year industry which allows Iraqis, Chinese and other possible enemies to enter unfettered.
The key word here is not "immigrant"; it is "illegal." Any discussion of immigration laws must start with one fact: to cross our borders in secret and take up residence in the United States without sanction of our government is a criminal act. Such an act, taken under no duress and with full knowledge of its criminal nature, should not be rewarded with offers of amnesty.
Literally millions of law-abiding citizens of America began their relationship with our nation hungrily searching the horizon for the Statue of Liberty as they were drenched in the cold water of the Atlantic. After months of preparation, these dedicated individuals repeated the words, ""I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any... sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen."
That is the correct and, until a few years ago, expected course of becoming an American citizen. It is an experience, and a responsibility, which the 11 million illegal immigrants living in this country cannot fathom.
This past month, the Statue of Liberty became the backdrop for illegal immigrants to protest their treatment under proposed reforms in the same immigration laws they have violated. People who have no legal right, under any law of this country, to even be living here are trying to set public policy.
"We only came here to work", said Elsa Rodriguez while joining immigration reform protestors; and that is precisely the problem. Rather than looking at the "economic benefits" supposedly given by illegals, we must recognize the costs to the American worker in jobs not available (jobs which many homeless Katrina victims would gladly accept), and in benefits American citizens must pay for. The costs to each taxpayer in government services provided to illegals due to the fact that they cannot go "on the books" for health insurance and other economic necessities has been aptly expressed in the press.
We are a land of diversity, but not as generally defined. We are diversified in that, unlike other nations, we allow a blending of cultures within our own borders. However, the common thread that has sewn this colorful social tapestry together is our history, our common struggles in becoming Americans, and our English language.
While a part of what makes us American is our respect for all cultures, we cannot allow our own American culture to be usurped by those who have entered our borders in defiance of our laws and in blissful ignorance of the history which has created those laws. We cannot allow laws that were designed to protect our nation against infiltration by harmful human elements to become diluted and classified as "unfair criminalization."
Rather than concentrating our efforts on appeasing those who seek to enter our borders merely to collect a paycheck, let us concentrate on protecting the integrity of the "huddled masses" willing to endure whatever is necessary in order to proudly stand with raised hand and vow allegiance to our laws, our history, and the American Dream of freedom for all at whatever price required.
(Dennis Jones is a Martinez resident.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.