In the News: Immigration and the Changing Face of America

I want to talk about something that doesn’t really concern religion in the news: immigration and the changing face of America.

I recently heard that America’s population is rapidly growing but that 70%+ of that growth is going to be due to immigrants. A lot of people have a problem with this (even those who are not nativists and think that immigrants deserve a chance in this great country), and their gripes often come in the form of, “I don’t want a bunch of Mexicans abusing the system and not contributing to it.” Considering the fact that a growing problem has been illegal Mexicans using emergency rooms as doctors’ offices when they get a little cold, I can understand and appreciate the frustration. Quite frankly, I can’t blame any one of them for trying to come to this country – I would have probably tried too.

However, I’d like to steer this issue, if I may, and talk about the kinds of immigrants America should be letting in.

Our borders don’t feel safer or tighter, and to a point, I think we hardly know who we should be protecting ourselves from. No one believes that shoe and belt removal at the airport is helping anything. Indeed, I lived in Israel for two years, and I have a firm policy when it comes to airline security: if the Israelis don’t do it then it’s an unnecessary procedure. The Israelis do not make you remove shoes or belts.

Anyway, getting visas to this country is incredibly difficult and so is getting citizenship. Sure, that makes it easy for us to turn away every border-hopping Mexican but it also screws us in a totally different way. Brilliant people from all over the world want to come to this country. They want to work here, live here and contribute. And they’re frickin’ smart. These people should not be turned down. If the world is in a race for progress and wealth and success, these people are potential recruits that are getting turned down all the time. Ivy League Schools have huge percentages of international students – really smart ones – and most of those students are not allowed to remain in the U.S. after receiving their superb education. That is so dumb.

We are literally sending away (and often not letting in) smart people who will do a lot more for us as a society than the vast majority of voters. Oh, but they’re not Americans, you say.

Bullshit! Everyone is an American. We’re all the product of immigrants, which makes everyone in the world a potential America and gives them plenty of right to be here if they want to contribute and be a part of this rockin’ system. This country’s citizenship is not based on ethnicity, race, heritage or anything else of the sort. This is opposed to, say, being French. You can’t just become French. You can, however, just become American, and it’s what everyone of our ancestors did when they came to this country. They just became American. Now we have the ability to cherry-pick the world’s brightest people, causing a brain-drain everywhere else, and we turn them away in droves. And the ones that are allowed to stay for 12 or 36 months we make life very hard for on entry and exit and staying.

All I’m saying is that America is squandering an amazing chance to stay ahead, and if you don’t want to look at it like a competition, don’t. America is missing an amazing chance to hire not just this country’s best and brightest but the world’s most intelligent and capable people. Our system favors American Affirmative Action, but I’ll tell you what: never will I abide by quotas and affirmative action hiring. The best and most capable person for the job should get it and everyone else can deal with it. That should be our approach to hiring from the whole world. In this system of globalization it’s never been easier to get the best and to get the best for the right reasons – it’s time for American policies to reflect that ideal and that necessity.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Are you an immigrant or foreign national? Do you have a visa or visa problems? Tell me about your experiences.

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