Monday, November 27, 2006

Immigrants & indignation

I received an ignorant mass email this morning about immigrants and the language issue here in the states. The subject of the email was "Hip hip hooray! Go USA!" and left me awaiting something upbeat, announcing how Americans had come together to do something great. Something proclaiming the positive impact Americans were having somewhere. But instead, the email did the opposite - it berated the Hispanic population for wanting to sing the national anthem in Spanish, dividing rather than building up our nation.

This country was built by immigrants, and we wouldn't be where we are today without the immigrant work force. The vast majority of immigrants in this country do the jobs Americans don't want to do, they're peaceable, and with a handful of exceptions, they do learn our language. If they want to express pride in our country (their adopted country) in their native language, why is that a bad thing? As this email says, this is a country where freedom of choice reigns. Why shouldn't they have freedom of choice as well? They contribute to the economy, they bring diversification of ideas and they enrich this country's history and culture. Furthermore, thousands of them serve next to 'our' boys and girls to defend this country, putting their lives on the line daily to serve and protect.

As a US citizen, I am in this country now for much the same reason as the immigrants. When my husband and I got pregnant overseas, I wanted exactly what the immigrants want - something better for my children. I didn't want to give birth in a country where the infant mortality rate is higher than that in my home country. Can you blame me? If not, can you blame them? If anything, we should be thankful that the Hispanic population loves this country enough that they have a desire to sing our national anthem in the language closest to their heart. Who are we to criticize their dedication to our (our being inclusive of immigrants) country?

This country was founded by immigrants - more specifically, by conquistadors and colonialists that came in and pillaged the Native Americans. To point a finger at the immigrants is to point a finger at our own ancestors (who do, in fact deserve judgment for much of what they did). Not one of us (other than Native Americans) can claim to be different from the immigrants - we all descend from people who immigrated to this country and worked hard to make a better life. To turn against the immigrant population (who, by the way, work their fingers to the bone daily to contribute to our economy) is to turn against the very values our nation was founded on.

When ignorant Americans who think of this country as the center of the universe make claims that immigrants are ruining this country, it reflects poorly on all of us, drives a wedge between us and does a disservice to the nation.

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