Adrienne BoettingerFriday,15 February 2013

The Snap:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The poem doesn’t end with “until my forebears get their asses here. After which, lock it down!”  Look at the Statue of Liberty carefully and see if you can find an expiration date. I’ll wait right here. Meanwhile let’s hope the plucky bipartisan group of 8 Senators can reform the immigration system despite the few hold-outs who learned all they needed to know about immigrants by watching a 1950’s newsreel about a forthcoming Soviet invasion.

The Download:

The United States is a nation of immigrants; less than 1% of the population is full-blooded native. To listen to some of the more irritating politicians you’d think that they were in that 1% but maybe they’re just confused with that other 1% they’ve been hearing about.

As of 2011, there were approximately 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. That number seems enormous but the fact is that these are individual human beings each with their own story. People risk their lives to come to the United States. They travel in ways that are unimaginably dangerous and fall for human-traffickers who enslave them in forced labor schemes or forced prostitution.

Why do they come here? All sorts of reasons, but I think a lot of them boil down into one: hope. This may be in the form of hoping for economic independence or freedom from oppression; the hope that their children will lead better lives than they have; or the hope that this grand idea that is America has enough space and imagination to include them. When did it start being a bad thing that people wanted to move here? That this was a nation so wondrous that people would literally die trying to get here?

Of course, the U.S. isn’t all puppies and parties. We have metric buttloads of problems: poverty, failing schools, crime and apathy for the plight of fellow humans. But we are so blessed it should be a crime. It is only by fate that we are privileged enough to be born here where people will fight to get a toddler into early education programs instead of places like Syria, where a 3 year old girl is orphaned and forced to flee her country, evacuated by a neighbor, literally with nothing.

Even if you’re not a bleeding-heart, look at the facts. By and large, unauthorized immigrants don’t hurt our economy. Border apprehensions of unauthorized aliens are at the lowest they’ve been since 1971. States with the toughest immigration policies (I’m looking at you Alabama) often suffer economically.

The bottom line is 99% of us were immigrants at one time or another and we’re lucky that when it was our turn or that of our parents or great-great-great-grandparents, someone left the light on for us. In closing, “Let me remind you that it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty.” Class dismissed.

Hat Tips:

NY TimesNew American MediaWashington PostPew Trust FoundationMy Immigration StoryHuffington PostNPRCNN, Image Credit: Flickr

Take Action!


  1. […] or naming a post office). Discussion, debate and compromise actually happened. This bill finally gives hope for a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country and hope that families broken up can be […]

  2. […] they actually don’t. No matter what wonks say, 62% of Americans want to give immigrants a pathway to citizenship and another 17% want them to become legal residents, according to a poll by the obviously […]

Subscribe to get updates delivered to your inbox