Although I was born in the USA, I grew up around immigrants. My parents, grandparents, relatives, my parents’ friends, the people we went to Church with, these were all immigrants. They were hardworking, patriotic, anti-Soviet, Conservative Americans who happened to have been born in another country and who came to the US legally. Many had to wait for years and even decades for permission to immigrate to the USA. They did so patiently and with respect for the laws of the United States.
Just a few decades ago, the country my family came from – Hungary – might have been called a s***hole. The countries living under Soviet domination were wallowing in extreme poverty. People were standing on lines for hours – once a month – for basic staples like bread and milk and butter.
People from those countries came here legally and were called communists. I once witnessed my father being told to “go back to Russia.”
Before the Soviet era, Ireland and Italy were seen that way by many Americans. We have all heard stories of store after store after store with Help Wanted signs in the window which also stated “No Irish Need Apply.”
Many of us are descended from people whose homeands were viewed exactly the way President Trump views certain countries today. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.
What the President did with his remark was not express an intention to protect America from our real problem illegal immigration – but to try to shift the focus onto legal immigrants from countries which many Americans feel should be seen as less deserving than the rest of the world. This is smoke-and-mirrors politics.
We have 13 million illegal aliens in the USA. Some say many more but this cannot be proven. The 13 million figure is a certain minimum. Yet, we are focusing on a few thousand LEGAL immigrants each year from these countries which are being disparaged simply because of their poverty.
We have a million or more trying to enter the US illegally every year, yet we are being told that 200 thousand from countries which experienced natural disasters and were taken in legally are the problem.
We have 13 million illegals yet we are being told to pay attention to the 50 thousand a year who enter the country – legally – on the diversity lottery.
We have a President who promised to end illegal immigration by building a wall and to deal with the problem of illegals in the US today. Yet, he is making deals with Liberals and Establishment Republicans. He is telling us that a full wall is not necessary. He is beginning a process of amnesty for part of the group which is already here and giving us no reason to believe that he will not capitulate on overall amnesty.
We have a President who is projecting a big head on the wall while telling us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. And he is doing so because the people leading the GOP desperately want the issue of illegal entry into and residence in the USA to go away, regardless of the cost.
To that end, the President has begun – the very week real negotiations on DACA began – a stepped up process of going after large employers like 7-Eleven to seek out illegal alien employees. Why now? Because he wants to put pressure on Democrats to come to the table and be willing to make a deal. He needs the Democrats in order to exclude Conservative Republicans from the process. That is the only way he and the Establishment GOP can enact a law which ends the most emotionally sensitive part of the problem: those who were brought here as children not of their own free will. Too many Americans feel sorry for these people. Neither Trump nor McConnell nor Ryan want to be seen as the people who forced them to leave.
Next will come amnesty for families who have children who were born here and are – therefore – US citizens by birth. By legalizing Dreamers and families of citizens, the vast majority of illegals will be legalized – seemingly on a humanitarian basis – and the problem disappears, in their minds.
The simple fact is that legal immigration are two distinct, unrelated issues. They should not be conflated – logically, legally or politically – as if they were the same. Those who come here respecting our laws are in no way comparable to those who sneak in across the southern border in the dark of night, regardless of country of origin.
There is no question that the legal immigration process needs reform. It always has needed reform and will always need reform. World conditions change and the numbers who want to come here from particular places under specific circumstances will likewise change. Our laws need to be amended more or less constantly to keep pace with the changes. So, yes. By all means, address the needed reforms. But do so as an issue separate and apart from the true invasive problem of illegal entry into and residence in the USA. These are not the same issue and dealing with them together is not only a grave strategic mistake, it is morally unacceptable. To seek to hit those here legally and their families or those who are trying to come here legally with any sort of punishment as a consequence of others entering the country illegally is reprehensible.
In this country, we punish those who break the law. We do not punish those who obey the law. If that were to change, the USA would become exactly the sort of country the President is accusing other countries of being.
Imre Beke is the former host of Right Time Radio on WKNY 1490 AM. Imre is also a former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American-Hungarian Federation and a former member of the Board of Directors of that same organization. He is currently the CEO of Heritage American Media, which is about to launch an online radio and video network.