I don't watch television and I no longer read the newspapers. To find out what's going on I look at the reflected glow of the current worries in the mirror of the blogs. When immigration was "the thing", all the blogs were all over it. Now it has been pushed off of the pages of blogdom by Israel vs. Hezbollah, the new "thing".
Now that the interest has died down and our emotional walls may have fallen, it's time to tell my immigration story.
I have neighbors who have lived down the block from me for three or four years. A wonderful middle-class family with two small daughters. He's a network expert who works at the local IBM; she's a former policewoman in London (yes! a Bobby) who went on to work as an audiologist. IBM, which is in a death spiral, recently ended his job, but was kind enough to offer him another one which may or may not go away after a year. He has an education from Oxford but his job is hanging by a thread. Maybe the wife could go out to work? Except she isn't allowed. Nor is he: neither one can get their green cards. They aren't allowed. She volunteers with the local police; trains with them; does tedious clerical work for free that they would rather not do. She works for and with both the sheriff's office and the Boulder police. They're both worried sick they're going to be thrown out of the country any moment.
They've both lived here long enough to realize that they are "Americans born by accident in another country" and would love the opportunity to become citizens. They've both applied but it has come to nought. They're on the waiting list and nobody tells you when you might get through it or how long it is. Please take a number, sir and madam.
This useful, highly educated family is perfectly willing to do work that "Americans will no longer do", but they're guilty of a crime. What is their transgression? They're British. He's Irish, she's English, and they're following the rules.
I don't mind immigrants. Immigrants are the essence of America. I also realize that we can't have an infinite number and that we are toying—perhaps completely unconsciously—with disaster on the order of Bosnia by not trying to teach all our immigrants English as soon as possible. What I resent is the double standard. Why should these good law-abiding people who are following all the rules and have lots to contribute be excluded? Why should people be rewarded for breaking the rules? Why do we have one set of rules for Mexicans and another completely different set for everyone else.
Bring in all the immigrants you want, but bring them in equally. Level the playing field. Play fair. It's the American way.
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