I’m blessed to be an American born and raised — but not everyone can say that.
In the noise of Obamacare repeal/replace, “Russia Gate,” and tax reform, Immigration Reform and the Wall on our southern border have been pushed back a ways on the priority shelf. But they are still there.
It is impossible for me or any other U.S. native son or daughter to relate to how it feels to be an immigrant — stranger in a foreign country. Even if illegal and even if remaining in the U.S. for a long time, it must still feel strange to not be a citizen in the country in which you live. I have empathy for those, but not because I can feel what they feel. It’s because I feel sorry for that inevitable nagging feeling of not being at home that certainly for them is always the 900 pound gorilla in the room. Add to that the uncertainty of their permanent status and the possibility of deportation must make them at times feel miserable, rejected, and even betrayed by those who brought them here. I think it’s time for that uncertainty to end.
How should It be ended? Please know my suggestions are just that: suggestions. I think they can work if implemented. And I think if done they can eliminate the anger against immigrants while offering immigrants a safe, promising, and legal life. Let’s go. No, not with an executive order. Let’s revise the legalization process.
“Dreamers” were brought here very young by illegal adults. I’ve asked why while growing up here Dreamers did not enter the legal system to become citizens. I discovered that to do that, they first would be required to self deport, then to apply for legal access to the U.S. to begin the arduous process for citizenship.
There IS a process. But why cannot Congress adjust immigration laws, not to give illegals instant citizenship, but to require illegals to register, enter the same immigration process that exists now, but a process with specific timing requirements ? Why not eliminate with registration the requirement to self deport and leave the country while the legal immigration process within the specified time period is fulfilled? I think it would work.
There are millions in the nation who have emigrated the right way. It wasn’t ever easy and it was difficult. But it was worth it. How do I know that? Read on.
The town of Prescott Valley, AZ, hosted a Freedom Rally a while back. Quang Nguyen was asked to speak on his experience of coming to America and what it means. He spoke the following in dedication to all Vietnam Veterans. What he had to say sums up what being a legal immigrant is.
“35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth. I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American. If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people. I am a proud U.S. citizen and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it, and I am very proud of it.
I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf. 35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the U.S. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle from God.
If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now. It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity and here I am. This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience. In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.
Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here. One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said yes. I shook and held his hand. This grown man’s eyes began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.
You see, America is not just a place on the map, it isn’t just a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must accept this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here. Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the Internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the U.S. Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing. Before I knew this 46-page document — the U.S. Constitution — I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names inscribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.”
Yes, immigrants should each come here and be here legally, or they should leave. Those here should be given an opportunity to enter the same process for immigration that those did who came legally. That is NOT the same as blanket legalization. “If” they register to enter this legal system, they would be of record and could be treated by law enforcement and government the same way American citizens are. If they refuse to enter this legalization system, they should be deported. And as long as they go through the immigration process just as those from other countries do, they should be allowed to remain. But, if they fall out of that system, they should be treated as illegals and should be deported.
We ARE a nation of laws. We HAVE immigration laws. Those immigration laws MUST be enforced. Congress can change them under the Constitution and are the only ones who can do so. Until/unless they are changed, law enforcement should enforce all laws according to their provisions without exception. Quang Nguyen and millions of others have done it the right way. Every other immigrant owes America to emigrate the right way, too.