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Immigrant / Refugee

These words are on the Statue of Liberty –
“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!”

But they don’t mean anything anymore. They sound good, but we as Americans don’t really mean them. We like to think we do, but our actions and policies say otherwise.

Remember when “immigrant” wasn’t a dirty word? Now, with the large group of Mexican children at America’s border, the word has shifted from “immigrant” to “refugee”.

That is what they are. That is what they have always been. They are looking for a better life. They can’t make it there, so they are trying to make it here.

This has always been a nation of immigrants.

The Puritans, seeking religious freedom.

The Irish, escaping famine.

The Chinese, in search of jobs where they can earn a living wage.

Layer upon layer, they come and add to the flavor of this country. This country is made up of mutts.

But Americans are scared. They don’t want “them” to take away their jobs or use up their resources. Public education and healthcare isn’t free – they are supported with tax dollars. If you are illegally here, you aren’t paying taxes. You are using resources that you haven’t paid for.

And then we gripe about having to change our signs and paperwork to be in English and in Spanish. That costs money too, money we don’t have.

We may say that America is the richest country, but we are in debt up to our ears. We don’t have the resources to take care of ourselves, much less everybody else. We don’t have room, or time, or much of anything else left over.

But what we do have is more than what they have.

Mexicans are fleeing drug cartels and police on the take. They are fleeing crushing poverty and illiteracy. They are fleeing lives where the only thing to look forward to is death.

For years they were referred to as “illegal immigrants” – but now with this huge group of Mexican children at the border, the term has shifted to “refugee” to garner sympathy.

So what do we do? Take them in? Adopt them out? Put them in foster care? Who is going to tend these children? Where is the money going to come from?

Should we make every Mexican in this country “legal” – drop all immigration limits and expect everybody to work and pay taxes and learn the language? Make a rule that if you want to come here, you have to pull your weight just like everybody else?

We all have to be on the same page.

We aren’t united. We are rather divided. And we are falling. We have a chance here, a choice. We have a chance to be “A Christian nation” like we like to think we are, and welcome in the stranger and treat our neighbor with the same kindness we wanted.

But how? With what money? We had to shut down the federal government for weeks last year due to no money.

We say we want to do the right thing, but when push comes to shove, we’d rather do what hurts less.

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