Recently there has been angst among some in this country about the actions taken by the new president of the United States in relation to the pause in receiving refugees from certain high risk countries and the construction of a wall on the United States-Mexico border with Mexico. These actions are being portrayed by some as hateful and/or un-American.
However, it seems that many times discussions and media reporting of these issues seem to be muddled with incorrect assumptions and terms. One example is the labeling of the pause in refugee immigration from seven high-risk countries as a Muslim ban, when clearly it is not. Another example is the lumping together of legal and illegal immigration as if they are the same, as in the recent “day without immigrants” event. Before the actions of our government can honestly be evaluated and discussed, a few basic principles regarding nation-states and immigration must be considered.
First, all nations have the right to determine who enters their country and becomes a citizen, and it is the duty of the government to enforce this. The citizens and/or leadership of a nation determine the conditions of entry and citizenship, which is then implemented by the nation’s government. Nations control immigration for many reasons – to prevent criminals from entering, to prevent drug traffic, to prevent entrance of terrorists, to prevent overburden of social services, to prevent taking jobs of the citizens, etc. The United States is no different, and has the right to control its borders and determine who is admitted to enter.
Second, those who are not citizens of a particular nation do not have the right to enter a country illegally, or demand that they can enter a country of their choosing. Those who enter without the permission of the people of the nation via the legal immigration process, are breaking the law and are subject to legal consequences.
Third, it is fair for the citizens of any nation to expect that those who immigrate to their nation will assimilate to some degree into the receiving culture. That is not to say that a person must jettison all of the customs and values of their culture of origin, but in the United States it is not unreasonable to expect immigrants to learn to follow the U.S. code of laws, to operate in a free market economy, to participate in a representative government and to speak English.
Finally, it is not hateful or un-American for the government to take steps to protect and promote the people by enforcing the immigration laws of the United States and vetting those who desire to enter this country. In fact, the opposite is true. Enforcing immigration law by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border or ensuring that new immigrants or refugees are well vetted, is truly American.
Those who would be part of an honest discussion of United States immigration policy must recognize the basic rights of the citizens of a nation and their government to determine and enforce the nation’s immigration policies for their nation. Lack of recognition of these principles will lead to continued confusion and tension in this nation.