America the eclectic: A call for immigration reform

Ami Fields-Meyer

Political Columnist

I don’t really know anyone who eats raw eggs.

Nor do I know anyone who eats raw baking soda. The same rule seems to apply to sugar, flour, and vanilla extract. You don’t eat them raw (that’s narsty). But when you mix them together…that’s right, it’s a cake. And really, try telling me that you don’t like cake.

But imagine that there was a wall that separated each ingredient, never allowing them to interact—that halted the production of a mouthwatering delicacy. That wall exists. It’s on the border of Mexico and California. The wall (and the values it represents) isolates the ingredients. Someone’s trying to steal your cake.

The wall’s shadow on the desert’s desolate ridges catapults even the most hopeful of men into indefinite darkness. It’s the only thing standing between the land of penury and the land of promise. Its iron foundation is impenetrable. It’s like a moat surrounding an opulent palace. America is on the other side.

America has an eclectic personality. In fact, our taste is so heterogeneous that we’ve been called a salad bowl. We take and adapt. What could be more American than a hamburger, pizza, and good ole’ apple pie? Nothing. The hamburger, however, hails from Germany. Pizza calls Italy its home. And pie, that distinctly American delicacy? Ancient Egypt. Stop being naïve, America. That which is uniquely American is uniquely multicultural. Drop the holier-than-thou attitude. It’s time to realize that our food—as childish as it may seem—is analogous to ourselves.

John Kennedy said it and each of us knows it: we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you’re one of the 1.9 million Native Americans left in this country of 307 million, you’re an immigrant. I was born here, but my great-grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe. Our President’s father was an immigrant. Five hundred and thirty-four members of our Congress are not Native Americans. That means that the ratio of once-immigrants to Natives is 534:1. We all came here from somewhere.

Our country was originally built as a haven for immigrants. Don’t you get a bad taste in your mouth when you realize that we’ve forgotten our roots? That the very fruit of our founders’ loins are the people who now seek to stack bricks upon bricks, building the wall higher and higher? Isn’t it tragic that the level of sanctimony has become so overwhelming that the men and women who preach the quintessential story of migration have forgotten the taste of the salt of the sea? Isn’t it ironic that this country that was created by people seeking refuge from a repressive and impoverished land is now it’s the first in line to push newcomers away?

We often forget that humanity is just as valid a common bond as any. Americans have paved so many different paths to success because of our polychrome composition. According to the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank, one in every four doctors in America is born in another country, forty-two percent of medical scientists in America are foreign-born, and one in three software engineers. Immigrants contribute $1,800 more in taxes than they collect in benefits according to the National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “ tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the costs of the services they use.” Immigration has served as the backbone of this country; if there were no immigrants, there would be no United States of America.

Immigration needs to be easier. Becoming a citizen of this country ought to become an inviting and enticing process instead of a legislative turn-off. The notion that Americans are better than everyone else is bunk. Our “moral high ground” is often a plateau and we’re not more worthy of achieving success than anyone else. Our country’s original foundation was an experiment; something that had never been tried before. We are living proof of how an unsteady mixture of idiosyncrasies can build upon each other to form not an obtrusive wall, but an invitation to the rest of the world.

Raw ingredients serve a much more pragmatic purpose when they are combined. America is so successful because it is a motley crew. And so, to those who wish to bolt up the door to opportunity and hold up clenched fists rather than outstretched arms, I have but one thing left to say: let them eat cake.

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