Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Immigration Problem

      When I first met FooLing in Hell on Earth, a love story, I thought he was just another Chinese immigrant who had come to America to make his mark as a mystical holy man. I had no idea he was a renegade angel. That’s the way it has always been with immigration. There’s always more there than you initially realize if you just give it a chance.
      In discussing the current immigration problem the general consensus is that legal immigration—like we had in the good old days—is all right but that illegal immigration like we have today is a big problem.

Why can’t Hispanics immigrate to this country the right way—the way many of our parents and grandparents did when they arrived on steamers, signed in on Ellis Island, and then went to live with relatives in the heartland where they learned English and practiced trades. That was the right way to do it and if today’s immigrants only did it this way there would be no immigration problem because America is a nation that welcomes immigrants with open arms.

Except that there would still be an immigration problem because Americans—Americans who live in the greatest nation on earth—seem to possess an almost irrepressible urge to complain about almost everything. Blame it on our forefathers. They insisted that Americans be free from day one to assemble anywhere and everywhere and to pretty much say whatever we want.  In an environment where we can talk about anything in the world that strikes our fancy, most Americans when they get together chose to complain.

We do it in the barbershop and the grocery store, the doctor’s office and the workroom floor. We do it in traffic in the heat of rush hour and by our pools in the shade of the old oak tree. In China one can be jailed for voicing an opinion against the government. In this country if you’re not complaining about the government people think you’re not paying attention. And one of the things we chose to complain about the most is the “Immigration Problem.”

I was reading the March 1904 issue of Political Science Quarterly the other day. I’m finally getting caught up on a backlog of magazines I’ve been setting aside for way too long now and an article by R.P. Falkner, a rather prolific writer at the turn of the last century who has seemingly faded into obscurity, caught my eye. Entitled, “The Immigration Problem,” it dealt with—well obviously you know what it dealt with.