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Immigration and American values

| Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I strongly disagree with Mr. Ellis’ points (“An Argument Against Amnesty,” Feb. 5) regarding amnesty contradicting American principles. Immigration embodies American values: Respecting equality, hard work and innovation. Seeing immigrants as no more than “enemies, foreign and domestic” will only make America more exclusive, denigrating and stagnant

Mr. Ellis argues immigrants should serve to improve only their own nation’s repressive conditions. Yet people are born into their rights, not by virtue but by accident. Repressive regimes could change due to emigration’s threat of “brain drain,” an exodus of talent, as a consequence of their actions. Democracies can only benefit from this. The world’s greatest minds immigrated to America, including Albert Einstein, an instrumental figure in the development of atomic weapons, which led to America’s rise to power. We are blessed Einstein was allowed into America and wasn’t forced to remain in Nazi Germany.

It’s true Einstein was a legal immigrant. However, he may not have made it under today’s restrictive laws, which permit a quota of fewer than 700,000. The wealthy have access to the legal resources to help them navigate this convoluted system. For most, waiting realistically lasts 12-28 years. After this wait, people have lived through adulthood. It’s simply not feasible to start anew at age 49.

Mr. Ellis, who bemoans immigrants’ drag on taxpayers, proposes their incarceration to “send a message.” This is a costly message, as prison expenses in America have risen. Contrarily, many immigrants pay more taxes than received benefits. Many comply with governmental directives, receiving Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN), even though they’ll never receive Social Security.

While they don’t possess legal rights, I cannot stand by whens someone says illegal immigrant are “entitled to nothing.” Some take advantage of this, resulting in sex trafficking, unfair labor practices and dehumanization. Immigrants are human beings, deserving full human dignity and respect. Immigrants walk among us. For some, they are our neighbors, friends and lovers.

As 21st-century Americans, we must ask ourselves whether Lady Liberty still shines her light as mankind’s hope or whether she’s been relegated as an artifact of the past, a Disneyland-esque icon of dreams long since departed.

John McKissick


Dillon Hall

Feb. 12