Immigration and the America Dream

Contributed by Vince Williams

There is a misconception that those people who are most adamantly for a strong immigration policy and against amnesty for the current crop of illegal immigrants, are against immigration in general.  This is just not true.  The life blood of our country is its immigrants.  Every person who comes to this country wanting to be an American renews the hopes and dreams of our Founding Fathers.  These immigrants come here because they have a dream.  This dream is known as the “American Dream.”  What is the American Dream?  It is the desire to live your life in liberty.  It is to be willing to take risks for potential rewards.  It is to work hard for a goal of a better life for yourself, but more importantly for your children.  It is to love the principles of self-reliance, responsibility, hard work and self-sacrifice.

I have two examples of the two different kinds of immigrants.  Both of them come from my church.

Glenda is a very sweet girl that I like a lot.  She is very intelligent, conversant and kind.  Glenda came to America with her father when she was a freshman in high school.  She made excellent grades, graduated high in her class and had lots of friends.  She was very popular with the kids in our church’s youth group.  Glenda and her father were here illegally.  Glenda’s father was, and probably still is, one of those illegal immigrants that worked for cash under the table.  He didn’t have a driver’s license and Glenda didn’t get one either.  Two weeks after Glenda graduated from her American high school, her mother came to Columbia, SC to pick her up.  Glenda returned to Mexico City with her mother, her free education and her entire life ahead of her.  This sweet girl came to America to get something for nothing.  After she got it, she left.  She could have been a wonderful asset to America, but that’s not what she and her family wanted.  I feel sure Glenda is now a valuable and productive member of the country of Mexico.

My parish priest, Father Bernardino Yebra, grew up in Manila, Philippines.  His grandmother was a witness to the bravery and sacrifice of the American soldiers during World War II.  He grew up hearing stories of the Bataan Death March and the fight for freedom.  Father Yebra was visiting America on vacation in September of 2001.  He was here for the terrorists attacks.  When he returned to the Philippines he asked his Bishop if he could come to America and join the American Army as a Chaplin.  He was granted permission.  Last year Father Yebra, who is almost 50, got his jump wings.  He also got something even more precious.  Father Yebra became an American Citizen.

What is the difference?  Glenda and her family didn’t want to be a part of America.  They just wanted something from America.  Father Yebra wanted to come to America and contribute.  He realized that there is something special about this place.  He wants to give back to the country that he feels has given him and his family so much.

The illegal immigrants that have come here from Mexico and other central and South American countries are not bad people, for the most part.  Yet, the truth is they don’t want the American Dream.  They want to come here, work very hard and support their families in their native countries with what they earn here.  Yes I know there are exceptions to this rule.  However, it is a fact that that in 2003 $30 billion was sent home by them to Mexico, Central and South America.  When you consider the fact that an estimated 50% of illegal immigrants are paid cash only, under the table.  Also, consider that nobody in this country is denied healthcare, food, housing or an education no matter what your immigration status is.  The real cost to our country is on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars.

How do we fix this problem?  Anybody who says we should start arresting the illegal immigrants and shipping them home has been to one too many parties with Michael Phelps.  There is no way we can gather 20 million people up and bus them home.  Not only is it virtually impossible, it would be heartlessly cruel.  What we can and should do is enforce the law on businesses.  If we started throwing business owners in jail and fining the businesses an amount of money to destroy the incentive for hiring illegal aliens, there wouldn’t be any jobs for illegal aliens in this country.  If the jobs go away, the people will look elsewhere for a job.  That’s good for America, but it is also good for their country.  If 15 million Mexicans, who really want a better lifeself-deport back to Mexico maybe they can start fixing what’s wrong with their country.  They’ve had a taste of greatness.  Now they need to share it.


19 Comments to “Immigration and the America Dream”

  1. Lets talk history and the american dream for a moment.
    Beginning in1492, europeans started coming to this country. Armed with religion and some sophisticated weapons they committed genocide and took this land from the natives. We occupy this land through the right of conquest. we took this land by force and pushed the natives out. we murdered them in mass and we took what was theirs. we pushed them out.
    the mexicans have mostly native blood.
    the mexicans are americans. mexico is part of america. we are so pompus and so egotistical we dont even recognize the united states is only a part of america.
    we allowed these folks to come because we needed them. we have used their cheap labor and have treated them as a form of slave to a large part.
    i love the way you generalize about these folks.
    send them home and destabalize the northern hemisphere which cannot support such an influx. also sending them back hurts our economy. they work hard and they contribute.Be careful what you ask for. you might get it.
    With the national policy exporting our industrial base we might be trying to sneak into mexico before long.
    we are the most arrogant and ungrateful group of people ever to populate the earth. we are greedy, tacky and down right pompus.
    the answer to our immigration situation is complex and multi faceted. there are no easy answers but blaming the latinos and not accepting any responsibility for the situation itself is so typical of our country.
    Jake moore

  2. Where do you start with this one? Illegal aliens are providing a net drain on our faltering economy. With “reported” unemployment of 1 out of every 10 people, we certainly don’t need illegal aliens usurping jobs from people.

    I don’t want to live in third world squalor or violence, nor does the vast majority of other American citizens. People try to come here from all over the world to escape that life. They are disproportionately represented as the perpetrators of criminal activity, in addition to their being here illegallay to begin with.

    We are a nation of laws. If the federal government refuses to enforce our border and existing laws, then we are heading down a very dangerous road. The 70% of the population in this country that supports border security and enforcement of existing immigration laws are right in this case.

    • Here we go with another simplistic view: they are criminals; they broke the law; deport them so we can have their jobs.Its no that easy.
      First, they are here because we allowed them to come. We needed them to come. We couldnt open the border for political reasons. So we intentionally allowed a slack immigration policy . So were tacitly complicit in their entry. Now they are here and our reaction is to call them names and try to deport them in mass.We call them criminals. They arent criminals. They did what they were allowed to do and what we needed them to do. Now we want to put the burden back on them. We are so self righteous.
      Obviously we need to beef up border security. The present immigration laws dont work. If a person here is here illegally, there is no way for him to petition to get legal and if he goes home he has to wait 10 years to ask to come back.
      These folks havent been a drain on our economy. True, they have used some government services, but they have worked jobs our people wont do and they have done so for slave labor. Send them home and see what the price of produce or poultry products does.
      Send them home and you destabalize our economy. Send them home and you destabalize central america.
      Know also we are being watched. Treat these folks badly and watch mexico follow south america in creating trade deals with china and others who wont disrespect them.
      The simplistic and egotistical thinking of the 70 per cent you quote is the exact type of thinking we had under our former president and his buddies.
      By the way, the 70 per cent will probably prevail. America was a good idea. Too bad it didnt work.

  3. What part of ILLEGAL is so difficult to understand? it is typical of intellectual midgets to resort to name calling when they don’t have facts or an intelligent argument to back up their positions. I just don’t understand the mentality of self-loathing Americans.

    BTW, the former President and his push for amnesty was a big part of the problem.

    • I dont want to get into name calling. I’m sorry you do. My post must have struck a nerve.
      At times the truth hurts.
      Sure, it was illegal for them to come here. That is not the question. The question is: what should a moral and compassionate nation which prides itself on justice do about it?
      If we share no blame in this, fine. Chuck them out with the trash. But if we do share responsibility then lets do the right thing whatever that may be. And one size fits all may not be the answer.
      We, not them are responsible for their being here.
      If we chuck them out, fine. But lets shut up about what a kind, caring, right thinking, just nation we are.It is not just to hurt people for something we did.
      We created this situation. Yes, us. They simply came because we allowed them to and we used their cheap labor to support our bloated life styles.
      Now in our typical self righteous zeal, we invoke God, mom and apple pie and blame somebody else for a situation we created.
      Sure we need to seal the borders. If it can be done. By the way, look at a map. We need a really big fence.
      My point is this: Your thinking is far too narrow minded and far too simplistic.
      Think about how the situation took place and about why it was allowed to happen. Follow the money and you will see what has been up.
      Im sure you are a nice person but please think about the way you view this situation. There is much more at issue and at stake than you seem to realize.

  4. We all enjoy the back and forth of political commentary but this blog is a forum for civil discourse, gentleman. Keep it civil or risk being blocked by Carolina Soapbox. It might help to remember that when your rival has not been convinced by your argument, it is because it was not persuasive enough.

  5. Jake,

    I think you missed the point of my article. Immigration is the life blood of America. It is our strength and our future. Without immigration America would eventually stagnate and become like any other Western European country. Much like Canada is doing. I don’t hate immigrant. I love them. I want more.

    What I don’t want are the kind of immigrants that don’t want to be American. Come here, join our country and be one of us. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. That is the topic of my next blog.

    As for you discussion of the “genocide” that took place starting in 1492, your facts are wrong. Yes we had superior technology and weapons and were stronger in warfare. However, that’s not why the indians died. They died from disease. Only a small percentage of all the deaths occured as the result of warfare or slaughter. Millions upon millions of indians in the Americas died from disease. Say what you want but disease is an equal opportunity killer. Look at the 1/3 of the European population that died during the Black Plague There were attrocities committed on both sides. It is intillectually dishonest to only see one sides faults.

    Yes our ancestors did “take” land from the indians. The same way the Incas drove the Aztecs into Mexico and the Aztecs conquered the Mayans and drove the Appache’s into Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The Apache’s then drove the Commanche’s into the northen plains who drove a large part of the Iroquoi nation into Ohio. Who were there with a wonderful constitution that our Founding Fathers based some of our constitution on

    Expansion and conquering tribes and nations has been the way of life forever. I’m not going to feel guilty or support casting blame on our country while excusing everyone else. I chose to try to learn from our mistake, but not roll in them and focus on our successes. America has been a far greater blessing to this world than any other country in history. That is what I want to celebrate!

    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate them and love it that we finally have some kind of discussion going.


  7. This is interesting.
    We have two issues at least. The first is one we should be able to agree on: We need to secure our borders.
    The second issue is more complex: Without brand ing these folks as wholesale criminals, whatis the just and smart thing to do with them now they are here?.
    Surely there should be some form of fine or payment for coming here without papers. But do we round them up and put them in prison? Twenty million more inmates will surely cost.
    Do we round them up and send them home? If we do, we will destabalize central america and srtike a major blow to our economy and to our relations with our southern neighbors.
    Do we just ignore them?
    Do we make conditions here so bad for them and for their employers they will just go home? If so, we create problems as stated above and now criminalize employers and create havoc in the market place.
    There are legitimate, smart answers to the current situation. But simplistic sound bites dont cut it.
    By the way, we starved and slaughtered the indians and we also gave them diseases as well as liquor. Our ancestors engaged in slavery and genocide in the name of God.
    I understand we are not our ancestors but we need to understand the folks we are talking about are all americans and are to a large part the decendents of folks we killed and took from.
    I understand all the history is in the past. I am not bashing our country. The past is what itit is but we owe these folks and we owe ourselves the assurance we are dealing justly.

  8. Jake,

    I have never advocated stopping immigration. As stated previously immigration is what makes us great. However, we don’t need to grant the current crop of illegal immigrants some kind of special rights that allows them privileges no one else has. Once we get our immigration problem under control andseal our border, then business will be able to communicate with the government what their needs are. At that point we can increase the immigration limits or increase the work visa limits based on those needs.

    I disagree with you that these people are Americans; American being a person who is a citizen of the United States of America. If you mean they are Americans in that they were born on one of the two American continents then that is true, but the two are completely different. America, as opposed to Mexico, Honduras, etc., is a political entity with established boundaries, laws and governing bodies founded by our ancestors. That is what I wish to protect. Nobody has a “right” to be an American who was not born as an American. However, once one is granted citizenship of our country no one has the right to take that citizenship away.

    Yes, some of our ancestors did sell the Indians Whiskey and did engage in warfare with them. Nobody knew at that time that the Indians were highly prone to alcoholism. They were just trying to sell the Indians something for a profit, just like the Indians did with some of their things. Yes we did make war on the Indians. The reverse is also true. They did make war on us. Sometimes we started the fighting, sometimes they did. We did not “give” the Indians disease. Disease is not something you give someone like a Christmas present. They contracted it because they had had no exposure to diseases that were prevalent in Europe. This made these diseases more contagious and lethal to them. It was a terrible thing, but it was not something anyone could have foreseen at that time.

    For the record, the Europeans did not engage in slavery in the “name of God.” The Catholic Church outlawed slavery in A.D. 441 and declared those who sold slaves excommunicated in A.D. 556. The Church also took a lot of other supporting action against slavery. For a brief synopsis see the following website The protestant churches (which weren’t around for another 1000 years) also took a firm stand against slavery. It was people, in spite of the teaching of the Christian Churches, that kept slavery alive. It should be noted that it was in the Christian countries where the world wide trade in slavery first started to die out.

    I do not propose criminalizing employers. I submit to you that they already are criminals. They are stealing from the people, enslaving the vulnerable, avoiding taxes and breaking the law. I believe that if you put them on notice, “we ARE going to enforce the law” that they will immediately find some of that American creativity and find ways to quickly solve the problems they have put themselves in, without going to jail.

    I also submit that you ARE bashing our country. When all you can say is bad things about our country that is bashing. I’ve read some of your other posts. All of your posts seem to be about blaming somebody for some wrong. Generally, you blame the “right wingers.” The problems in our country shouldn’t fall into a “right wing” and “left wing” category. They should be problems that we as Americans need to solve. We should be able to discuss them openly and honestly with each side presenting his or her pros for his or her method and cons for his or her opponent’s methods. When you get into basing your argument on things that happened 200 to 500 years ago, you are basing your argument on intellectual weakness and emotionalism. You should have stayed with the “create havoc in the market place” argument. It is actually something that has meaning to the topic at hand.

    Thank you,


    • I like these comments. They are respectful and genuine. Some are inaccurate but all are believed.
      I love this country. Some of its history isnt pretty but it is what it is.
      The true Americans are the native americans. We did commit genocide and it wasnt pretty. We did condone slavery in the name of God. Look at the writings before and during the civil war. Those were different times. My point is we should not be so darned self righteous and we should try to do the right thing. We should do the right thing for selfish and selfless reasons.
      The right thing is not to round them up and send them all back. We have to find a way to work these folks into our couumunity. They arent criminals although they didnt comply with our immigration laws. Our country is tacitly complicit in their being here. They contribute on the whole and the good ones should be allowed to stay under proper conditions. The criminals need to go.
      I do see the right wingers as the cause of our many ills. They now have taken over the republican party which I used to respect. The republicans of old such as goldwater had many legitimate points. These new guys are nuts as far as I am concerned.
      We do have a problem in the way we do party politics. We treat it in many ways as competing sports teams. As a result no one will cooperate and the two sides dig in their heels at the expense of the country.
      If we harm these “illegal immigrants” we do so at our political and economic peril.
      There has been much good done by this country and alot of not so good. It sure would be nice if we did this one right.

  9. Wow! I love it. Some of these comments are longer than the original post! Guess immigration is a good topic, huh?

  10. Now we are having a real debate.


    I do think we should increase the immigration limits in our country. However, if we just give these people a pass we are encouraging the same kind of behavior. We tried this in the past under Regan and it only made the problem worse. All I’m saying we do is enforce the immigration laws without going on a witch hunt. We e-verify businesses and make sure they are hiring workers who are hear legally. Then we start a systematic and if needed fast track way of getting the people here our country needs. I do not think it is a great idea to give those that are here illegally a ticket to the front of the line. They should have to apply just like everyone else. If they get accepted into the program before they have to move that’s great for them. If not then they can go home or risk getting caught.

    I still disagree with you on the genocide thing. Well over 90% of the deaths were the result of ignorance and not violence. But if you wish to say that we were wrong for winning the wars we did fight that is your choice. I love history and have read a lot of interviews with Indian leaders from the 1700’s and 1800’s. There is one thing I am sure of. If they had had the superior weapons, our ancestors would have died. Please don’t give me the argument that is was “their land.” They didn’t even consider it their land. By their own beliefs the right to live on, hunt on and cultivate the land belonged to the strongest tribe. For most of the tribes their entire culture was based on conquest.

    As for the immigrants coming from Mexico, Central and South America, they are descendants of the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs for the most part. Those tribes had not lived inside the borders of our country for thousands of years. Exactly how long does a group of people have to be absent from a piece of land before they give up rights to it?

    I’m not sure how you can say the Republican party has been taken over by right wingers. In the past 20 years the Republican party has take a decidedly left turn. It looks more the Democratic Party of the 1960’s than it does of the Republican Party of the 1980’s. There are a vocal minority, Michal Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham to name a few, who are trying to return it to it’s roots of smaller government and less taxes. The Tea Party bridges both parties and is made up of a group of people that just want the government to stop spending money. I, for one, would love to see the Republican Party return to the party of Regan and put a boot in the party of Bush. The biggest differences between Bush and Clinton were 1. Bush knew how to fight a war and 2. Bush knew what “I do” means. That’s about it.

  11. Now we have three issues:
    1. should we increase the number of legal immigrants?
    2. should we increase border security; and
    3. what do we do with the folks already here?

    I have no idea what should be done to increase the number of immigrants. So, on issue 1, I just have no opinion either way.
    As to increased border security, we need to do more and what we are doing should be done better.
    Third issue is the complex one. The ones with serious criminal history need to go. The others should not be forced to leave and there should be a path to permanent status. They should be taught english; should pay a fine for coming here contrary to our rules; and they should pay taxes. They should be allowed to drive legally with insurance. To do otherwise shirks our responsibility for the fact they are here. To systematically send them home will destabalize their home lands and our economy. And it will make us weaker in our needed political alliances with our neighbors.
    Do you admit the US is partially to blame for the fact they are here? If not, you just dont understand what happened.
    Now to the indians. This is fun. You are correct they didnt have a deed to the land before the europeans came. The had no system of deeds and land ownership. The land surely didnt belong to the europeans who “discovered” the new world. The europeans took the land, killed the buffalo, broke treaties, slaughtered the natives and brought disease and other dreaded things. The indians were victims of wholesale genocide as we pushed westward. They were herded onto reservations and pushed out of texas and the south west across the mexican border.
    The mexicans come from native american blood mixed with spanish and others.
    According to your view of history, they should thank the gracious europeans who took their land and destroyed their way of life. You must not be reading the same history I read. Read the story of Geronamo (sp) or the black hills. Our ancestors abuse of the indians and the blacks is well documented. We owned other people as property!
    The reason for the historical comments is to request we acknowledge our responsibility for the present situation and for once do the right and moral thing.
    If im bashing The US by speaking the truth then so be it. The truth is what it is and so many of us want to gloss over the truth and paint us with a rose colored brush.
    We can do better than we have in the past and we can be what you claim us to be: a country of right thinking and right acting people. But if we place all the blame on the illegals and deport them in a systematic fashion we will ignore our moral responsibility; sweep our wrongs under the rug; and in typical fashion do wrong while all the time declaring our own morality.
    Lets do the right thing by these folks and lets also do right by us.

  12. Jake,

    Now we are getting somewhere. I could live with 3. above if it had the following conditions.

    1. The fine was significant enough to to be painful. That method discourages like behavior.
    2. All back taxes that are owed are paid, including all penalties and interests. Just like regular Americans.
    3. Until 1. and 2. are met these people are not eligible for Welfare, Social Security or Health Care – except in emergency conditions or life threatening situations.
    4. Those that are found to be using a false Social Security number to get a job are sent home and not allowed to return!
    5. The congress passes a bill that clarifies the meaning of the 14th Amendment to clearly state that people who are born here are only granted citizenship if they are here legally.

    I have never said America is guiltless in the Indian wars. Yes, we broke treaties, but so did the Indians. Yes we sometimes engages in warfare against women and children, but so did the Indians. To be fair to our ancestors, you have to not just see their guilt, but what the other side did also. For example, the last of the great raids by the Comanche’s was led by a group of chiefs that started in the western highlands of Texas and ended at the gulf coast. They killed over 600 people in that raid, most of them women and children. They also took dozens of young women captive to become slaves to their wives and the carnal desires of the braves. We tend to forget that part of the Indian Wars and only remember the “Noble Savage.”

    Yes we have made mistakes and we do need to know them so we don’t repeat them. But we have been a far great force for good in the world than anything else. Just look at the freedom that has resulted from America. We have never tried to colonize countries or take land (except on our continent). Just look at the countries we have captured and given them their freedom, Philippines, Panama, Japan, Germany, South Korea, numerous Pacific Island nations, Grenada, most of the North Coast of Africa just to name a few. We are a kind and generous nation that has tried its level best to do right in the world. Yes, sometimes we do stupid stuff. Usually, that is based on ignorance or is an anomaly. I would hold our history up and compare it to the history of any country in this world and not be ashamed.

    My next blog post comes out tomorrow. I will be interested in hearing your take on it.

  13. Politically speaking, any change to the 14th Amendment will be VERY difficult. Expect fierce opposition from Democrats. They will do a lot of grandstanding for black voters as they “defend” the 14th from any alteration. There will be lots of stories about how whites in the Old South tried to used immigration laws to disenfranchise blacks and prevent them from owning property, etc. and how the 14th Amdt ended all that. I am not saying it cannot be done, but there will need to be A LOT of persuasive convincing done to prevent the perception that this isn’t an attempt by white politicians (Republicans) to undo one of the amendments that protected black freedom in the the post war era.

  14. I’m not saying change the 14th Amendment. I’m saying clearly define the 14th Amendment. The writers of the Amendment clearly did not intend for it to be used as it is being used today. The issue can be settled without any changes to the Constitution.

  15. Progress.
    They all use fake social security numbers. Thus, they pay in and get nothing out. This is part of what is wrong. We wont give them socia security cards and they make up numbers. The social security money we get we keep and eventually apy nothing in benefits. Then we claim they are ripping the system off.
    Surely no one should be made a citizen who is here illegally and I agree any back taxes and interest and penalty should be paid. No problem from me on that. At least we can agree a path to legality shold be availble to the non criminal undocumented aliens.
    And we agree on border security.
    Not trying to get partisan, but you now agree with the positions of Bush, Obaba and McCain and you and I now agree.
    Now that we’ve settled this one lets see what else we can find to solve.
    By the way, I have enjoyed the discourse.
    As you can tell, Im pretty liberal socially. I dont mind paying taxes and I dont mind the government spending my money on worthy causes. I am frugal with money and believe in pay as you go.So Im fairly conservative on pocketbook matters.
    This is the only blog I read or participate in so yall will probably get sick of reading my stuff.
    I wish you the best.

  16. I don’t think we are quite that close Jake. If the IRS enforced the tax laws on the illegal immigrants the same as they do on American Citizens, then the penalties and interest would drive them back home. I believe that is the correct thing to do. Not necessarily to drive them back home, but I do consider it a side benefit, but to punish them for breaking the law and avoiding taxes.

    They don’t use fake Social Security Numbers either. They use real number owned by other people. It is the illegal immigration problem that is cause the identity theft problem in this country. The IRS is very good at letting businesses know the SSN is not a real number, but very poor at letting them know that same SSN has a job in three other states. I had a meeting at the IRS about 18 months ago. There was a guy in the cubicle next to my meeting trying to explain to the IRS agent that he didn’t work full time in Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. The IRS had sent him a tax bill because he was supposed to be in a higher tax bracket because he made so much money. The illegals that are here are not in the middle class they are in the lower class of the American worker. That means they don’t pay any taxes and get the full benefits of being here, Safety, our roads, our schools, our standard of living, our medical services, our social services. They are getting much more than they receive.

    I’m not even close to the Bush, Obama, McCain plan. Their plan was amnesty for the illegals, no back taxes and no penal. It included an accelerated program for citizenship for the illegals already here. It did not require them to learn English. It granted amnesty to gang members. It allowed them to immediately qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, government housing, Medicaid/Medicare as needed and a truckload of other government programs. I was and I still am against all of those things.

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