What Am I Missing When It Comes to Immigration?

WASHINGTON, DC, USA - MARCH 21, 2010: A girl and her father stand with some 200,000 immigrants' rights activists flooding the National Mall to demand comprehensive immigration reform.

By Michael Brown Published on December 27, 2018

Over the years, I have rarely addressed the question of immigration. That’s because I have no expertise in the matter and find it much better to solicit the wisdom of experts. Why give my opinion if it’s no better than yours (or, perhaps, less worthy than yours)? So, this article has no hidden agenda. I’m genuinely asking questions.

First, allow me to share these three different examples.

  1. Last week, I was speaking with a South African woman who has lived in the States with her husband and children for more than 15 years. She was ecstatic, telling me that just that morning they had all become American citizens. It meant the world to them.
  2. Not everyone is so fortunate. In the early 2000s, one of our ministry school grads wanted to stay here in the States and applied for citizenship. His wife also applied. They were from Norway, they were well-educated, they had a stellar track record, and he was an employee of our school. Despite our best efforts, including hiring an immigration lawyer, they were denied a path to citizenship and had to return home.
  3. A few years ago, I was contacted via social media by the son of a Vietnamese couple who fled Vietnam when we pulled our troops out, suffering terribly before reaching our shores. They were among the Boat People of the late 1970s to early 1980s, and their stories were heartbreaking.

My wife, Nancy, and I were part of a church that got involved in sponsoring these refugees. So, if we had a spare bed or couch, we welcomed them into our homes. This couple was the first of a number of Vietnamese refugees to live with us, together with their baby boy.

We had not been in touch with them for quite a few years, and it was another son who was now contacting us. But he wanted to put me back in touch with his parents, which was an incredible experience for all of us. The father told me he had recently become an American citizen and chose my name, Michael, as his new name. Incredible!

Land of Opportunity

For many decades now, people come to our shores (or, across our borders) to find refuge in this land of opportunity, or to start a new life, or simply to continue on the path most important to them. And we have a process by which people become American citizens.

There will always be more refugees and potential immigrants wanting to come to our country than is possible for us to absorb. (Again, we have little idea how much opportunity America presents, especially when compared to the many impoverished and war-torn nations of the world.) But we must have an orderly system to process these refugees and potential immigrants. Otherwise we will have chaos.

If you’ve ever crossed the border into Canada or Mexico, you know that sometimes you can wait for several hours to get through, depending on the traffic. And it’s not uncommon to get questioned at length if the officers are not happy with your answers. As annoying as this can be, countries need borders.

Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »

As for American policy, an immigration website notes that “[t]he United States has been the top destination for international migrants since at least 1960, with one-fifth of the world’s migrants living there as of 2017. Despite its long history of immigration, the United States has oscillated between perceiving immigration as a valuable resource and as a major challenge.”

According to Wikipedia, “In absolute numbers, the United States has a larger immigrant population than any other country, with 47 million immigrants as of 2015. This represents 19.1% of the 244 million international migrants worldwide, and 14.4% of the U.S. population.”

Those are some amazing stats, and all of this leads me to my questions, which I’m not asking as a Trump-supporter or a Trump-basher. I’m asking in the most objective way possible.

Some Questions About Immigration

First, if illegal immigrants are flooding our country, what’s so controversial about building a border wall? There’s a legal process for immigration and we take in hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year. What’s wrong with keeping the illegals out?

Second, since when has anyone been able to force us to take in immigrants? Who decided that the way we treat a migrant caravan — one that was ostensibly stirred up by leftwing activists — is now a test of our national compassion? Don’t we have a long-term track record of compassionate response to refugees?

Third, what’s so controversial about wanting to preserve our national identity? After all, people want to come to America for a reason. If we cease to be America, there’s no reason for people to come here. Can we learn nothing from what some European countries are now experiencing due to a massive influx of Muslim immigrants, many of whom have little or no desire to become incorporated into the host country’s national culture?

Fourth, why would it be so hard to make a path for citizenship, with penalties, for those who came in illegally years ago but have been working jobs, obeying the laws, and contributing to the good of the society? Why must they be deported according to some hardliners? Is there no middle ground?

Again, I’m not asking these questions to prove a point or to support or undermine the president. And, to repeat, I don’t talk about this much because it’s not an area of focus or expertise for me. But the current caravan crisis, coupled with my conversation with the South African woman, prompted me to put these on the table for your input.

How about some common sense responses without political vitriol? I’ll read your comments with interest. Thanks!

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Ray

    It’s sad to see so much illegal immigration cause so much harm to the nation, and make it so difficult for the many good immigrants who could contribute the most, to the best virtues of the nation.

  • Ray

    I just don’t see Islam as being compatible with our constitution, nor do I see it qualifying for what our founders considered religion to be, when they offered protection for the free exercise of it.

  • Dena

    I don’t understand why the couple from Norway were denied citizenship? That doesn’t make sense.

    • Paul

      What Michael is saying here doesn’t make any sense. If these people were forced to return to Norway then they were not resident aliens (legal permanent residents), and generally a person must first be a resident alien for at least 5 years before being able to apply to be a naturalized citizen.

      • Lisa

        Maybe they couldn’t get an extension on their work visas?

        • Paul

          Or the student visa ran out after graduation from the ministry school. Either way, what Michael wrote doesn’t make any sense.

  • Ray

    According to Liz Crokin, everything the deep state does, is all connected to human trafficking and Pizza gate, and yes, that includes this fiasco on immigration, very much so. I think she is correct on that.

  • Ray

    Our national identity, needs to be our constitution itself. There is so much godliness in the preamble to our constitution, which ordained what followed. If whatever follows does not fit the bill of the preamble, is it really constitutional? The preamble serves as a most important guideline.The closer America holds to it, the better for everyone. If we hold to that guideline, it will direct people through the darkness, to a brighter future. It is no simple task, yet there are so many times, when it really is simpler than some people might think. We just need people in congress and in all of government to have that kind of vision, so we do not perish as a nation, and we need the help of God and his Holy Spirit, which comes to us, by Jesus Christ.

  • 234559

    Mr. Brown, The reason some people are opposed to amnesty for violations of immigration laws is that based on prior experience this will encourage future violations of immigration laws by the following generations of migrants. They know that if only they can get past the border and then otherwise keep a clean record they will eventually be rewarded with citizenship and all the while they can enjoy many of the state/national subsidies available to legal residents (education, welfare, health system, employment etc).

    Only when the message being transmitted that illegal entry (no matter how long ago) will not lead to amnesty but deportation (the current law) then we can dampen the demand. It would help to not send mixed messages such as we give now with state and local governments purposefully overlooking legal residency status.

    • Lisa

      Mixed messages! That’s what we’re sending. I hate how politicians and do gooders talk.

      At my church, illegals get the same help as legal and citizens. They stand in the same line. No judgment. My daughter had to wait 2 hours before getting counseling for resume writing because of all the Spanish speaking people getting job help in front of her. I struggled with un-Christian thoughts as I sat waiting with her. I was even tempted to mention to them that I’d been a tithing member for 20 plus years…but feared they’d make my daughter wait even longer for having such an impatient, selfish mother. Citizenship or church membership doesn’t count for much if we’re treated the same as illegals. In a way, it’s worse because I struggled with ambivalence about even needing help from my church while at the same time funding the very building the needy were using. My daughter has special needs and has had an impossible job finding work because there are so many faster, able-bodied illegals available for businesses to pay under the table.

      I’m trying to figure out what the godly perspective is and not become bitter, but it’s a struggle.

  • John

    Here in France we are reeling from decades of failed integration efforts and still the European Union is pushing for open borders and free love. Little wonder there are various forms of resistance ganing popular support in France (yellow vests), UK (Brexit) etc. There is now active debate around the applicability of Saria law in various areas, which invariably are off limits for the majority of the population, in preference to and overriding the laws of the country. If we are to avoid a state within a state, and an Islamic state in this case, then governments must take seriously their responsibility to not only control the borders but to ensure that integration is a pre-requisite for immigration. Social cohesion and the rule of law depend on it. Surely the continuation of a failed policy while expecting different results is a reasonable definition of insanity. The flawed assumption was that an ageing native population would have its pension provided by the newly imported workers’ contributions. The reality is that many immigrants are happy to live off the generous socialist benefits rather than pay into funds for others. The system is collapsing under its own weight and people are starting to see where this is leading – it will be a painful adjustment.

  • azsxdcf1

    The KEY word is: “ILLEGAL” Those who BROKE THE LAW to enter this Country should NEVER, EVER be allowed to stay – here… no matter how long ago, nor how well they have contributed to society after settling here.

    2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation children who were dragged into this Country illegally by their parents (or whomever) ought to be able to APPLY for citizenship like other immigrants once adults – OR ELSE – ALSO BE DEPORTED.

    The very Sovereignty of our Country depends upon us ALL being here LEGALLY… FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

    How can this be questioned? Oh, I know…. illegals are given the “right” to vote and they will ALL vote for the party who allowed them illegal entrance! THAT says a whole lot about those who are trying to get more votes by ANY means possible. It is NOT altruism nor compassion driving the leftists to “allow” illegals… no, it is their personal avarice and greed.

    The whole strategy is analogous to Mayor Meyer Ellenstein’s plan in 1933 Newark, New Jersey when promising African Americans from Atlanta Georgia a free train ride and a shortened 24 hour waiting period (in direct contrast to the current law of 365 day waiting period) to come to Newark, register to vote Democratic and start receiving welfare checks immediately! (thus starting what has been called the “Northern winterizing of the Black Man in America”).


  • John P Glackin

    Frankly I don’t think we can allow any more people in this country. We would be to over populated. We need to encourage current Americans to marry & have kids.

    • Lisa

      A lot of our social ills are tied to broken families and gangs. I think you’re onto something.

  • Patmos

    For the fourth one you need to be careful about rewarding illegal actions, because people will see that as a potential way in.

  • FedUp

    Like many, I only have a problem with your fourth question. The thing we do NOT want to do is give them a path to citizenship. That would mean the Democrats will forever try to being in more. On the other hand, I see it as unkind and probably impossible to import all illegals. Watch the video at Prager U. A sensible approach is to
    1. Control the border with a wall and whatever else it takes.
    2. Reform the laws to get rid of the lottery, the automatic citizenship to anybody born here, and the chain migration. and
    3. Give long present, long behaving illegals a path to Legal Status that could never become citizenship. They would jump at the chance because they didn’t come here for citizenship. And by the way, make them pass a US history and civics test to even to get legal status.

  • Craig Clark

    1. A wall will force congress to be responsible for our immigration policy. Big Biz who wants cheap labor vs working poor. Congress will have to take a stand. Voters will know. Democrats get extra congressional seat from including illegals in the census.

    2. Emotional thinkers don’t care about truth or reason, only feelings. Anti American Progressives have been exploiting them for years. The national media is our enemy. They distort and lie about what is happening to manipulate people.

    3. Globalist believe that if they can break down national identities, then they can great a super state. Progressives hate America and it’s traditions. Both want to destroy our national identity.

    Also too many immigrants (legal or not) will destroy the social safety net. I’ve heard figures over 100 billion for the money we spend on immigrant welfare.

    4. We need to have an efficient system. I think we need to limit the number of foreign born living in the US citizen or not). We also need to invest in the third world to make it better so people won’t need to come here. Americans need to consider living as tent makers overseas to improve conditions in the third world.

  • Rick LaPier

    no one has an issue with “Immigration” The problem is the left and MSM consider EVERYONE an immigrant no matter how they got here. If these same people went to a consulate and applied they’d be as welcome as anyone. Fact is they passed several consulates on the way to the boarder to get here. NONE stopped in to apply, none wave the AMERICAN flag, NONE say they want to be citizens. Few ever show up for their hearings, they fade away into the night and work under the table, stealing citizens IDS to get work, credit and benefits. These are not immigrants they are illegals, criminals who broke US law as their FIRST official act int the country. They claim to be fleeing violence and want a safe place, yet refuse any offers by other countries. thier actions are not that of immigrants, but invaders.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    If you do not live in a border state with Mexico there is no scenario by which you will understand or appreciate. You would not be able to get a job in retail sales in El Paso, one of all of the border towns, unless you speak Spanish semi-fluently, you do not understand nor appreciate mordida “mi plumo, o su plata” the greasing the skids for access or protection (maybe unless you live in Chicago or New Jersey), the social, economic and political presence of the cartels, even to the extent that US authorities will understate the violence to preclude a reactionary expense. The gangs that they are fleeing from in the respective countries some will join in the US to stay in the US. The of course there are those that for a mere thousands of dollars they are willing to return to their respective countries. Then of course Mexico whom would benefit greatly by the creative talents migrating to the US offer them only punitive incentive to continue their migration North. They are fleeing the punitive socialistic social, political and economic systems that they voted in to become wards of the nanny state here.

  • John Chisum

    Not all that long ago immigrants came to the US and became productive members and citizens of our society. They assimilated by learning English. Many started their own business. That is the American Dream.

    Now it’s the reverse. Many come here for the money and the benefits. A lot of money gets sent back home instead of recirculating in this country. They also game the system and many take advantage of liberal voting laws and freebies, all paid for by you and me.

    They don’t care about America, they only care about themselves.

    Just for the record, my wife is a legal immigrant and she is disgusted at what the illegals are doing.

    • Paul

      Yes, as a legal resident alien turned naturalized citizen, I am pretty disgusted by those who are trying to cheat.

Hating Evil
David Kyle Foster
More from The Stream
Connect with Us