It’s not often I take up a political stance (especially not on a Friday night when I should be out with friends); but unlike many arguments that center around partisan groupies or how much and from whom our government is taking money, immigration and illegal immigration policies encompass an issue to which I’ve seen serious negative impact to very good people.

I’ve seen it tear a father away from his wive and two kids. I’ve had a college roommate, who came to the states as a small child, who battled for a decade for the ability to get the papers he needed to stay. Although he grew up in the states just like me, he had to use someone else’s social security number just to be able to get into college. I’ve seen many smart and intelligent people struggle to find jobs and struggle to support their families… and what’s the difference between them and me? Nothing.

How is it that we as (United States of) Americans are so arrogant, so self-absorbed, so ignorant? We’re a country built from a backbone of immigration… we came in and slaughtered civilization after civilization of Native Americans, enslaved African Americans, warred against Mexico and put over a hundred thousand Japanese descendants into concentration camps (we called them “assembly centers”). Then we have the audacity to raise our flag and sing “God bless America!”, as if we’re deserving of it; as if we have some sort of entitlement.

Sure, we might say “why should we support, enact policies or help people who are coming here illegally?” First of all, lets consider what we really mean by “illegal.” Imagine we all lived in a desert, struggling for water. Then, a group of us stumbled upon a lake. There were already a few people camped at this lake; some were ok with sharing the water, others didn’t really want to; so we killed a bunch of them and drove the rest away. Then we built up a wall and made up a rule that said “anyone besides us who drinks from our lake is doing something wrong; something ‘illegal.'” Other people in the desert discover this lake, see our walls and try to negotiate their way in. They have just as much need for the water as we do, they have just as much to offer, but we turn our backs. In desperation, some of them make their way in anyways. We here about it and look at them like they’re scum; like they’ve done something immoral. We bathe in a body of water they merely want to drink from – a drink for which they are willing to work for.

ImageNow back to the policies. I started writing this post after seeing my mom like an image containing Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s new slogan “Doing the job the feds won’t do.”  The slogan is built on this politician’s opposition to an announcement that the federal government would stop deporting young illegal immigrants who are already in the country, and are pursuing education/military. This policy was in response to the failed Dream Act which was developed to help people of this criteria (with things like background and drug tests) to finally get their papers. It makes me sick to my stomach and sad to see people liking posts like this: with a politician building a campaign in opposition of a policy meant to help people in need.

Now whether or not you agree with the specifics of this policy, that’s one thing. But what bothers me is the fire behind most of those who do not support it (this flame obviously strong, considering a governor would slogan her entire campaign around it). We fear both illegal and legal immigrants and tag our fear with ideas such as “drugs”, “violence” and of them “taking our jobs.” With this fear, we put a blanket over them as a people, and seek for solutions to keep them out. We discuss this rather than actually focusing on “how do we keep more of those immigrants who can actually contribute to our society and to our economy in? How do we make it easier for them? How do we differentiate between them and those who are increasing violence and trafficking drugs?” Looking for ways to keep and bring in hard-working, intelligent, family-oriented, innovated people in our country should be our primary focus; this is, by the way, how we built our nation and economy in the first place.

So let’s not praise a governor who enacts policies to force legal immigrants to not be able to leave their house without proof of immigration status, and who focuses on kicking out any ‘illegal’ immigrant who we haven’t yet given permission to “drink from our water” – whether or not they’ve ever done a drug in their life or have ever gotten into a fight in their life; regardless of whether they have a family we would tear them from or if they’ve been here since they were a baby.

Rather, let’s seek out policy-makers who can see past America’s arrogant, self-absorbed ways. Let’s focus on solutions, not on fear.