by Reynold N. Mason
Atlanta May 17, 2010- Since the passage of the now notorious Arizona immigration law last month, poll after poll has showed, despite the boycotts and vocal opposition to the law, that the American public overwhelmingly support the law and want comprehensive immigration reform. Seventy (70) per cent of Arizona voters support their state’s new immigration law, empowering police to inquire about a person’s immigration status. Only twenty-three (23) percent oppose the law, according to Rasmussen. And across the US fifty (50) per cent favor the Arizona law and want it applied nationally. The mood of the country is further borne out by a CNN poll showing that two-thirds of Americans believe the law “should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens.” And a majority of Americans think the US should build a fence to keep out illegal immigrants. In the same survey, two-thirds said they think illegal immigrants are a strain on the US economy.
Clearly, immigration is an emotional issue that creates anxiety among Americans about changes in our way of life. That anxiety is beginning to express itself in a slew of anti-immigrant laws now passed or proposed in several states. “The American people are scared,” said senator Cornyn of Texas, “they don’t understand why the Federal government isn’t doing more” State senator Mike Delph of Indiana says his state should follow Arizona and pass a strict immigration enforcement law. In California, perennial anti-immigration politician Duncan Hunter has said that “children of illegal immigrants should be deported”. And last week Mayor Myers Berry of Albuquerque, New Mexico announced that police would now check the immigration status of every person arrested in Albuquerque, joining a growing number of cities that choose to enforce Federal immigration laws under the 287(g) program.
These laws are supported by the vast majority of Americans, especially in Border States, because they blame illegal immigrants for rising crime rates and other social malaise. Just last week in Atlanta Georgia, Jessica Colotol, in the US since the age of ten and, about to graduate from Kennesaw state university, was arrested on traffic violation charge and jailed, when a check revealed that she was undocumented. Politicians in Georgia immediately jumped into the fray passing a resolution making citizenship verification a part of the admissions process for all state universities. “We have an illegal immigration problem in Minnesota” says one Minnesota politician, introducing an Arizona style immigration enforcement bill recently. Indeed, we all do.
Immigration is a national issue and, this storm of anger will rage until President Obama and congress pass comprehensive immigration reform. Ours is a rich country and therefore will attract immigrants searching for a better life in much the same way it was a magnet for our foreparents fleeing persecution and poverty a few generations past. We must not let it be said of us, as Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar:
'tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend……’
America, as pope Benedict X1V has counseled, “should welcome immigrants, share their hopes, support them in their sorrow and trials and help them flourish in their new home….this is what our fellow countrymen have done for generations, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” We should do no less.