Kicked Out of the Melting Pot

The official motto of the United States used to be ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ or, out of many, one.  That was changed in the early days of the Cold War to ‘In God We Trust,’ in order to more effectively, I think, highlight the differences between the system of American democracy, and the godless Communists.

Well, even though we’re a nation of immigrants, and we still attract more immigrants than any other nation in the world, we are quickly becoming ever more hostile to those newcomers.  Take, for example, the state of Alabama.  The state legislature there has enacted a statute so restrictive and hostile to immigrants, that newcomers have been fleeing that state in droves since it recently took effect.

In the absence of effective federal action on the issue given the current state of D.C. deadlock, it’s not surprising that the states have resorted to their own devices to tackle the problem of illegal immigration.  But the new law in Alabama goes much further than any previous statute.  It basically makes it illegal for immigrants to exist in the state by barring them from enrolling their children in schools, to obtain housing, and the like.  And it requires local authorities to verify their status as well.

For a nation of immigrants, I find this pretty rich.  Unless you’re full-blooded native American, we’re all from somewhere else, at one point or another.  And this is in a country where native-born, white Americans don’t want to work for minimum wage cleaning chickens, or picking blueberries.  Imagine, for a moment, what the prices of some items in this country would be, were it not for migrant labor.  A pint of blueberries would be ten dollars, and chicken would cost the same for a pound.

We live in an atmosphere of hate these days, largely brought on by the downturn of the economy.  But sending a message to those people that we attract, those people that are, in many cases, willing to risk life and limb to come to this promised land of ours, that they are not welcome, and that they ought to move on, is not only disappointing, it’s horribly immoral.

Yes, we have a problem with illegal immigration in this country.  But outlawing immigrants from basically existing here is not the right way to tackle the problem.  As a nation, we are better than the approach that Alabama has pursued.  And as long as Alabama’s law remains on the books, be prepared to pay higher prices for most of the things that you use in your life.  Because, one way or another, there’s going to be a price to pay.  Not just in human costs, but you can be sure that it’s going to hit you in your pocketbook as well.

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