If one thing has made America different from other nations, it’s that we’re not supposed to have an aristocracy. Some people may be born with more money or brains or beauty than others, but no one is born with more legal rights. All men and women are supposed to be equal under the law.
The native born get the right to live here automatically, at birth, but an immigrant has to earn it (if he can become a citizen at all) via a long and hard process. The native born can become president, but immigrants can’t. The government can deport the immigrant, but not the native born. And so on.
What did the native born, including me, do to earn superior rights in the land of the free? All we did was get born, and our mothers did most of the work in that process. Good fortune, the grace of God, or parents determined to give us an American life decided that we would be born here rather than elsewhere. We did nothing ourselves.
Meanwhile, immigrants value the United States so much that they deliberately abandon everything that they know, including the nation where they were born and grew up and lived for years, to come to our country. Legally or illegally, they make a difficult and expensive trip to come here and often have to struggle to make a bare living here. Immigrating to the United States is the greatest compliment that anyone could pay to America.
Yet somehow we feel that we deserve the American dream more than the people who worked so hard to be here. Donald Trump wants to exclude Muslims and build a wall barring Mexicans. He’s part of a long line of anti-immigrant politicians. In March 2005, for instance, Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R-Arizona) led more than 30 other Representatives in a letter to the Secretary of State to denounce what they called “Mexico’s long-standing invasion of America.”
Like aristocrats throughout time, many native-born Americans see the teeming non-aristos as an enemy army. We feel entitled to better treatment than the swarthy foreign masses, simply because we were lucky enough to be born in the right place, and they weren’t.
Now, I am not saying that we should simply open the floodgates. (Elsewhere in this blog, I’ve laid out a plan for immigration.)
But behaving as if the native born somehow deserve American life more than those who work hard to get here and stay here — I don’t like it at all.
It’s not aristocratic. It’s just bigoted.