The immigrant’s tale

By Jay Jamison

Last September former Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke to a government class at Dartmouth College. In his speech he told about his experience when he was a two-star Marine Corps General. He was visiting a U.S. military outpost in the western Euphrates River Valley in Iraq. He arrived at the enclosure at night, and the next morning he was told that sentries had captured a man trying to set-up an improvised explosive device (IED) on the road the general travelled over the night before. Mattis recounted that the young man was an engineer who spoke perfect English. Mattis asked the young man “why are you doing this?” [setting up IED’s]. He responded that he didn’t like having foreign soldiers in Iraq. Mattis said he fully understood. The young man acknowledged that he was probably going to jail for a long time. Shortly before the interview concluded the young man asked Mattis, “Do you think, general, that if I’m a model prisoner, some day I can immigrate to America?” The man who the night before hoped to kill Mattis and others, was speculating about immigrating to America. Out in the middle of nowhere, in the western desert of Iraq, an angry young man was expressing the hope of one day coming to America. Those who repeatedly tell us that America is the main cause of every evil in the world have a problem with immigration that is far more damaging to their cherished narrative, than it is to the anti-immigrant crowd. If the United States is so bad, why is the world beating our doors down to get in? Affirming that those trying to enter the United States illegally should go through proper channels to gain admission, is not an anti-immigrant position—it’s a pro-legality position. The fact that thousands would leave their homelands and endure hardships like walking across Mexico to get to the U. S. border, remains a powerful counterexample to the claims that America is a horrible, racist, intolerant nation. It’s true that ours is an imperfect nation, we openly display our perceived flaws for everyone to see, but the evidence is clear that ours remains the nation most desired among those who seek a better life. Notice also that the majority of people seeking to come here are not from the top economic echelon of the countries they are fleeing. So, some of the poorest people are seeking to come to a largely capitalist country. How does this square with the narrative that free market economies are somehow harmful to poor people, when many, if not most, of those seeking entry to the United States have next to nothing? Why aren’t they attempting to get into the socialist paradise of Venezuela? Why aren’t they launching boats to Cuba? On the other hand, how many people are trying to leave America? The number of people leaving America, renouncing their citizenships, pales next to the numbers who want in, hoping to be granted American citizenship. Oddly enough, the majority of those renouncing their citizenships, are from upper income groups—many leave because of lopsided tax burdens. 5,133 people left in 2017, and 1,099 left in the first quarter of 2018, according to Robert W. Wood, writing for Forbes magazine. As we begin a new year, we should reflect on the simple fact that in spite of our many flaws, the numbers tell the tale. You want to know which destinations are the most desired among people? Just count how many people attempt to get in against how many are trying to get out.

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