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We Are All Immigrants

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

At most of our southern borders, there is no great statue welcoming anyone. There is only the vast expanse of desert to cross, there is only the journey. No one comes through this looking good, but at the end there is the goal. It may not be paradise, but it sure looks like it to someone running, riding, walking, moving however they can just a few steps ahead of death.

My people were different. Different is a threat to the old order.

St Patrick’s Day has a different meaning to different people. In the US, it’s long been a drunken celebration of Irish ancestry. In Ireland itself, it’s traditionally a day to go to church. For me, however, it has always been a day to note the greatest of all Irish contributions to America. Our nation, the nation we made our own, was transformed by our arrival. It is a nation of immigrants because we showed the way, hated as we were at the time.

Our birthright to what might look like paradise gives us the luxury of judging. Often the best we can muster is a simple account of our blessings and the fragility of chance, “There but for the Grace of God go I.” For those of us who are Irish, it’s more like “There, with the Grace of God, we came.”

We were there. They are us.

I have explained this many different ways ofver many St Patrick’s Days here, but today I want us allto make use of our long Celtic memories and recall just who we are and how we got here. We made it, and so can anyone. We made this nation, and so do they.

3 thoughts on “We Are All Immigrants

  1. There is a right way and a wrong way. A front door and a back door. The front door is legal. The back door is not. my italian grandfather came in the front door…LEGALLY. Vetted and vouched for. We are no longer a nation if we do not have borders, laws and acomon language. This country cannot support millions of illegal immigrants. It defies logic and sanity.
    So while we are attempting to control this mess, we should also make English our official language.

    • And I support doing it the right way. That logically includes not setting arbitrary quotas and observing international law for those seeking asylum. It means supporting those who come here, possibly even tracking them to make sure they are OK. It means that we should be sure they have success, as we all do better when we all do better.

      I won’t argue with you on the main point, since we’re taking this to a fundamental level of principle. But where these principles become practical matters of life and death, we are obviously failing. I only hope we can agree that our nation is stronger when those with the drive to make a better life for themselves arrive.

      Adding that it should be done with a system to ensure that it is done well is also reasonable, IMHO. But what is the goal of that system?

  2. My issue especially with regards to immigration is how impossible it has been made for people to aquire legal citizenship. There are people literally escaping death who are denied entry. A lot of the people seeking asylum want to do so legally and they keep their appointments and show up to court only to get backlogged and denied after doing the gruelling work. Legal Mexican immigrants get deported based on tecnicalities. Countries in which the US has either directly or indirectly (via supplying weapons to the invading country) involved in destabilizing get denied asylum when the US government is the reason that ordinary citizens have been caught up in a war they had nothing to do with. I believe that we are all citizens of the world and that although we do need borders, the immigration system is broken and biased and has failed innocent people.

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