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Commentary: Immigration

By Dan Lenard

Buffalo, NY – If you've ever been to Ellis Island, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, perhaps you saw the marvelous film "Island of Hope, Island of Tears," directed by Charles Guggenheim. It's a powerful documentary about the place many of our ancestors first stepped foot in America. When I was teaching Social Studies in our public schools, when talking about immigration, I always spent a day showing it. Every time, it brought me almost to tears. At the end, narrator and master historian, David McCullum sums up the immigrant experience with the sentence, "They were American's already when they arrived here. They were risk takers. In them, was already embedded the American spirit."

My grandparents and great grandparents came here as immigrants. I will always be eternally grateful that they did. There are the many stories of the risks they took escaping Russia. And, there are the stories of how they journeyed into the unknown, settled here in the US and became Americans. With immigration such a hot topic these days, I think it also bears mentioning, that they came here legally.

The problem, so I see it, is not that we, as children of immigrants, wish to deny those seeking a better life the opportunity to do so here. We wish to know who they are, why they are coming, and if, like my grandparents and great grandparents, they have the means or the support structure of a sponsor so they can become productive and not be a burden to our society. America needs immigration. As many peoples have made this country the standard for liberty and opportunity, so have they enriched our land with their cultures and ideas.

Clearly our current immigration laws need re-vamping. They are too restrictive, allowing less than 100,000 people a year to immigrate here. What we are partially experiencing at the Mexican border, and the high seas is a result of this restrictiveness. People complain about the US all over the world, but as former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "They keep coming here." Those escaping the tyranny of Castro's Cuba, the insanity of Haiti's nightmare political system, the big brother infrastructure of Communist China and the complete lack of dignity and human rights in the Islamist countries, deserve better and have to take risks to be here. Those leaving Mexico and Central America for our borders are economic and political victims of their elitist governments as well, but due to the quotas, they must cross the rivers and sneak in.

We are the only country founded on the concept of liberty and equality. However, it's about opportunity, not opportunism. So, last weeks immigration rallies in support of millions of illegal immigrants struck me as disingenuous

Those who sponsored these demonstrations and those who promote illegal immigration have something other than America's welfare in mind. The leftist and Islamist sponsorship and influence on these rally's left many of even our most liberal leaders running to distance themselves. I did not see a movement of compassion, but the attempt to immediately create 10 million or more voters for their effort to impose their inhumane and non-democratic ideas on our legislative process.

If someone came here illegally, they have already started life here by breaking the rules. The answer is quite simple. We should reform our laws to simplify immigration and give illegals the opportunity to openly declare their families and their presence here, go through the same due process our forefathers endured, learn and use English, and then become eligible to become legal, voting citizens of the greatest nation on earth.

"Looking Outside the Box" with veteran broadcaster and professional narrator Dan Lenard is a monthly feature of WBFO News.

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