Opinion: Immigration shutdown fraught with emotion

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The government shutdown in mid-January was a national embarrassment.

It was attributable to a Congress that allowed this issue of illegal migrants, falsely labeled “immigration,” to fester for decades and a president that made absurd campaign promises about the same long-existing domestic issue that has to do more with agriculture and housekeeping than national security.

Simply put, nearly 60 percent of the people who enter the country illegally come from Mexico and the rest from Central America. They are mostly agricultural workers, some construction workers, and domestic workers, and they comprise an honest, hardworking entity.

Unquestionably, this shutdown is not in proportion to all the other problems the country faces: the possible collusion of the Trump campaign with Putin’s Russia to affect our elections, a hopelessly partisan, deadlocked Congress, the residuals of our Iraq invasion, and the Afghanistan war, not to mention the national debt.

When legal entry into the country is mentioned in the same breath with illegal entry by the media I become irritated.

I came in 1951 with thousands of others, known as displaced persons. We were the discards of Europe after World War II.

We came in two general categories: survivors of the Holocaust who had no intentions to resettle in Europe and those, like my family, who faced persecution or death in the Stalin-occupied areas behind the Iron Curtain. Something in the air at the time set the tenor of our journey. It spelled “melt in,” accepting the national culture of the United States.

The last thing we would have thought of was to “enrich cultural diversity,” now used as justification for immigration.

Our acceptance into the country was pure American generosity. Many displaced persons also were accepted in Australia and Canada to build infrastructure.

America did not need immigrants then, excepting a few notables, such as the Los Alamos scientists, who helped to build the nuclear bomb. America does not need immigrants now. For the present, I could only justify those for admission that work with us in the national security arena in foreign lands and put their lives are at risk.

What to do with now nearly 14 million residents who entered the country illegally is not an insurmountable task. First, many will return to their homelands, as many Europeans did after World War I, after having made some money. Second, their stay can be legalized through a guest-worker program or a “sponsorship program.”

If a bona fide need for their services exists, their legitimacy could easily be controlled through their jobsite and domicile. It is a no-brainer.

By the way, keeping Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is also a no-brainer for anyone with a soul and common sense. How could we do anything else but to let them stay?

We can deal with undocumented workers, but the “liberal left” notion that we are not a “nation” but a “global kaleidoscope of diversity” is an insidious strategy to justify what I would call a steady flow of immigration. We certainly do not want to turn our country into a socioeconomic rehabilitation center for the disadvantaged. We don’t need to put the country through half-baked social experiments when, in fact, we have absolutely no need for steady immigration as we have had in the past.

The immigration issue is naturally tainted with emotion and maybe some nostalgia since most Americans, excepting native Americans, Hispanics and African-Americans, have an emotional attachment to Ellis Island and the inscriptions on the Statue of Liberty. Our country is a well-established cultural entity now and should not confuse the traditional Hispanic migratory workers with future immigrants.

It is unfortunate that this issue surfaced during the chaotic reign of Donald Trump, and after having been agitated in the media during the election ad nauseam.

George Geczy Jr. is a retired U.S. Army colonel and Taos resident.

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