Friday, July 11, 2008

Some Perspective

The whole immigration debate is so silly. It seems to be run by a bunch of people standing on their folding chairs yelling "They're taking our jobs! And learn some damn English!" I can understand that people want to maintain national identity. People want to drive down the street in anytown USA and see someone barbecuing and see someone else walking a golden retriever on a leash. It's nice.

BUT the world was never really this way. There have always been immigrants, and there always will be immigrants. America, of all countries, should be very aware of this. Every major city has a "China town" or some other ethnic equivelant, and some people find this very upsetting, clearly overlooking the great restaurants.

After living abroad for almost a year, I now understand what it is to be an immigrant. Ryan and I have a few German friends, but mostly we hang out with Americans. We go to an English-speaking church. We buy stuff like peanut butter with little American flags on it. We're trying to learn German, but it doesn't happen overnight. It's hard living in another country! We take comfort in little Americanisms here and there. Ryan and I chose to move to Germany for his career, but many immigrants don't have the luxury of choice; its either move or starve. Move or be killed by gangs.

Another component of immigration is race. When we lived in the UK we were not regarded as immigrants because we are American and white. The English didn't care if we lived among them. But someone from India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh is seen quite differently. People had no problem discussing the scourge of immigration with me, but when I pointed out to them that I am an immigrant, they'd basically say "you don't count."

This issue, like the war on terror, seems to have reached far past logical issues and into emotional fear-mongering. If people examined the effect of immigration, they'd see many net gains. And, most immigrants, after a generation or so, DO become assimiliated. And then they start hating immigrants.

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