There is an apparent consensus that our immigration system should be focused on attracting the best and the brightest to America; that our economy needs the influx of skilled workers in order to keep growing and become stronger.
This thought has been espoused by both the left and the right as they rush to explain why it's such a good idea to look the other way as our national sovereignty is violated millions of times over on a daily basis. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity! Immigrants will make our economy a lot better! Immigrants will help create jobs and fund a border fence!
You'd think that if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.
The dubious reasoning in those arguments aside, our immigration system should not be focused on economic growth. Admitting people into our country to become permanent residents or citizens should not rely on skill or education, and doing so will hurt us in the end.
We are promoting economic justifications as the highest reason for the incredible privilege of American citizenship, tacitly valuing our economy above all else. Polls certainly show that the economy and jobs are the greatest concern of the American public, but it would be a mistake to value economic reasons for immigration so highly without understanding what has led to its growth.
What has made us the economic powerhouse that we are, or at least recently were? What rocketed us from a fledgling little nation to the world economic driver in such a short time while other countries have barely moved?
It's a very simple answer, say it with me: Freedom, capitalism, the free market and the rule of law.
That is why we are not only an economic powerhouse, but the world superpower for so many years.
The rule of law is what provides the legal netting to ensure that everyone plays by the same rules, that your property and rights are protected, that you can take a risk and dream and the law will have your back. It is the solid foundation that is not easily swayed by emotion or fleeting movements that would otherwise undermine it. If we do not have the rule of law, we do not have a vibrant economy.
The free market provides the ability to compete. Competition is what forces innovation and drives creativity within the market. Competition is what leads to newer products, better products, and newer and better products at lower prices! Without it, we could not survive economically.
Capitalism is what provides the incentive to take that leap and strike out on your own. Capitalism, though maligned in nearly any leftist circle, is a very simple principle: You keep what you earn and do with it what you will. That's it! This is what provides a major incentive to create, to dream, to invent - you will keep the fruits of your own labor! You can use those fruits to grow, to create more, to dream bigger and the sky is the limit. That is the beauty of capitalism. Without it, our economy dies.
Even with the presence of these three foundational principles, it would all fall apart without the last.
Without freedom, we do not have the room or ability to create what we dream of. Inventors, visionaries and people who chased after a dream with reckless abandon are what drives major economic growth, not skilled labor. Freedom is what gives those inventors a chance to invent; the visionary a chance to dream and chase after it like nothing else in the world mattered. Everything else is built on this. Without freedom, it collapses.
When you read the famous poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, there is something special in her description of immigrants that perfectly frames what our immigration system should be about:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
In her description of those she wants coming to our golden door, everything is an adjective - tired, poor, wretched, homeless and tempest-tossed. Those all describe the shape they are in, how they may look or what their station in life is.
Only one word in her description is a verb that describes not what these people are, but who they are - yearning. They are yearning, an indescribable and inescapable longing for something. And what is that thing?
To breathe free.
We will take anyone, no matter their station in life, no matter how poor they are, no matter what their age is or their skills are, even if they have no home in your land and are being thrown out like the trash, we want them here if they long, more than anything else, to be free.
That is what our immigration policy should be. We need immigrants coming here who yearn to breathe free, not to make us a better economy, but to make us a better America.
We, who have lived here our whole lives, have grown accustomed to the limitless blessings of freedom. We take for granted the free air that we breathe every single day. It should be our goal that through immigration, we can remind ourselves of how incredible our freedom is, how valuable and desirable it is.
Our spirit and appreciation for the countless blessings in this nation would be rejuvenated, revived and re-awoken by those who finally are able to taste it for the first time and can satisfy that deep yearning to breathe free. Poetically, it is they who will remind us of how great it is to be an American, and that is what we need the most.
Keep, other lands, your highly trained! Send those who want nothing above the taste of sweet freedom to our golden shores. It is they who shall make us strong. It is they who shall renew and remind the world of the blessings of America.
It is they who we seek.
For other articles and writings by Darrell, please visit the Milk Crate.
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