Adam - Immigration, the act of entering, versus emigration, the act of exiting, is an interesting topic for me. Being white, male, and born in the USA, I’ll admit that it’s not a topic that I explore often due to my privilege. But, being a central California resident, I’m most certainly aware of it as a policy (most recently with Arizona’s new legislation as a tool of oppression) and as a struggle for those who actually attempt to engage in it both illegally and legally. We most often hear about immigration via politics, because it’s much easier to pander and fear-monger with an issue that is tied to something like racism, xenophobia, and/or nationalism. It’s interesting to me, that in a country known as the “melting pot” or “salad bowl”, filled with diverse cultures, foods, and of course, people, the way people refer to immigration is through the use of pejorative, hateful rhetoric. Immigration is what makes the world go round. Where would humanity be today if we weren’t explorers, constantly pushing the bounds, meeting new people and trying new things? That, in my mind is the absolute essence of immigration: blazing a new trail. People have different motivations for blazing that trail whether it is escaping oppression, following love, looking for better opportunities, or simply wanting to be somewhere different, but they all do it because they want something different and new. The intense backlash we are seeing towards immigration baffles me. When I think about all the things I like when it comes to music, to food, to film, to whatever, almost all of it can be traced back to another culture, another country, another place. Why would I want to oppose the forces that bring and integrate such awesomeness into the country I’m a citizen of?
Ed: Upon first blush, I’m for a more relaxed immigration policy, perhaps even a near open border if we could. But, I recognize the overly idealistic nature of these thoughts. So, I think we need a reasonable plan for immigration. I don’t know what that plan is, and I won’t pretend to be intelligent enough to form a comprehensive policy. Whatever we come up with we must always keep in mind that people want to come here for legitimate reasons like jobs and opportunity, why not accommodate as many as we can? But, therein lies the rub. We live in an alleged land of opportunity, but still many of our citizens are denied opportunity. We live in a land of plenty, but there are many that go without. Sadly, it is not these with the most need, these being left behind in our American society that are generally clamoring against those that wish to be here. It is those with the power, it is those at the top of society, it is those who fear a changing populous. This isn’t me just saying the rich people are evil or full of hate or xenophobic. This is me acknowledging that those in power are always seeking to maintain power, to maintain the status quo. And, if we allow more people in, especially if we allow them to become a part of this great land through citizenship then the grasp on power may be loosed. Were the Irish welcomed with open arms? Were the Italians welcomed with open arms? Were Catholics welcomed with open arms? Was anyone that was different than the dominant, controlling culture ever accepted with open arms? Sadly, that answer is no, despite the statements engraved at the Statue of Liberty, “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!” So do we do then, how do we handle a country that no longer believes in immigration? Simply, we voice our opposition to these policies. We vote out those politicians that support such discrimination. Locally, we do the same, but we also need to find tangible ways to support those people that are here. Immigration is not some faceless policy issue. We can support agencies like Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministry (firminc.org), Fresno Metro Ministry (fresnometmin.org) and every other agency that we can identify that is actively working to aid those who are coming here to pursue the American dream. Fresno and the San Joaquin valley are an area of opportunity. We are a destination for immigrants, whether or not the powers that be want them here. With that in mind, I encourage every resident to find some way to help out their fellow human.