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Who's really to blame for illegal immigation?

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Message Mike Tower
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Let's stop blaming the immigrants!

Not a single person alive in America today can state that one of their original ancient ancestors was born in The United States. Even American Indians' ancestors migrated from elsewhere to the American continent. Thus every person alive in our nation today must trace his roots back to his immigrant ancestors, who either came here willingly, mostly seeking a better life, or were brought here unwillingly as slaves.

Beginning more than 30 years ago, our elected officials from both parties have continuously allowed the illegal immigration of approximately 12 million people into our country, mainly from Central America and Mexico.

A few years ago, I met an Ivy League professor of economics who had served as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers during the terms of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. This fellow asked that I answer a key question: "Do you think it's realistic to believe that if America's leaders, with the world's most powerful military, did not want this illegal immigration that we could not stop it?" Of course, if we indeed could not -- God help us all if an armed enemy invades from the South. If you want to learn more about his explanation of why this immigration was not only allowed but desired, please read part 1 in my series about his full explanation of why our leaders chose to support illegal vs. legal immigration.

What do you think about this important question the economist posed? Do you really think we could not have stopped this if we had wanted? Do you think it is accidental that we have such restrictive policies for legal immigration through our front door while openly allowing millions to enter illegally through our back door; and that these aren't somehow connected in the twisted but purposeful logic of our collective political leadership that has failed our country in so many other ways for so many decades?

If our collective elected leaders at the very highest federal levels were in on this for at least three decades and did virtually nothing to stop or even slow down the flood of immigrants, who should really be blamed the most?

I think we need to each take an imaginary life journey; begin by imagining that you had been unfortunate enough to have been born in Mexico or one of the other Central American countries with long histories of absolute grinding poverty, and you saw absolutely no possible way to lift yourself or your family out of this condition. What would you do? Would you just accept your fate and, like countless generations before, simply be resigned to lives of impoverishment, and then pass that heritage on to your children? If instead you learned that the greatest country in the world, you know the one -- the famous land of opportunity, had clearly decided to allow people like you to enter its sacred land of freedom and opportunity, what would you do? It was officially illegal to enter this way, but the front door was locked and the back door was not only open, but no real efforts were being made to restrict entry. What would you have done? It started with a trickle of some of the bravest people imaginable. They knew the trip would be personally dangerous and yet they risked their lives in the journey they knew had to be attempted. They also realized they faced the risk of being arrested and imprisoned, or being returned to the border to find their own way home.

How many of us have not benefited from this immigrant labor in some way? Will those of us retiring in the next few decades refuse to accept the taxes paid by their children (who are legal citizens) to support our retirement? Do you think it's the morally right thing to do to force these people to live in constant fear of deportation? Do you ever see Hispanic-appearing people anywhere and not wonder if they are here legally? How do you think it would feel to be in their shoes? Have you ever noticed when you are out and about and you pass by any of these people -- and they are people -- that they often won't look you in the eyes? They don't want to be noticed for a very good reason -- they are terrified of being kicked out of America, even if they have been, as most are, good neighbors, paid their taxes, bought property, even started businesses, and have children who are legally American citizens. At the end of all of this, it seems to me that we have to remember these are ordinary people who have come here for the same reason most of our ancestors did. We need to stop pointing the finger of blame at only the immigrants, because you know as well as I do that most of us would have done exactly the same thing if we were in their shoes.

If a finger of blame is to be pointed, it should be aimed at our collective leaders from both parties over the past 30 years or so who have committed the real crime of allowing and encouraging this illegal entry. Like we the people, these poor people have been the pawns and victims of our corrupt government. Meanwhile, as the election campaigns unfold and the candidates debate what needs to be done about this particular topic, do you see any mention of the fact that they and their predecessors are actually the ones who caused the problem in the first place?

Mike Tower

Hendersonville, NC

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Mike spent most of his working career in a variety of managerial roles in five different industries for two employers over a 38 year career. He now writes a political Op-Ed column for the Hendersonville, NC Times-News, and displays his favorites at (more...)
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