The absence of homogeneity is what makes us unique as a nation. We are more than “a people”. America is a product of the whole human experience. This country offers the richness of what it means to be a person to all who are courageous enough to venture into the formative possibilities of its melting pot.
As Americans we have a moral duty to cultivate a vision of our society that is greater than that which is reflected in the convenient political opportunism that colors the ambitions of myopic individuals. Those who want to close the door behind them once they and their households are in will find that door constantly battered by the winds of human opportunity that brought the first ships to these shores. This country is a force of nature powered by the aspirations and the inspirations of the immigrant. Ours is a hope hinged on the hopes of those who dare to rise up against hopelessness.
According to our census experts there are close to 12 million people living illegally in the USA. They build our houses. They help us care for our children. They do our landscaping. They work in our restaurants and hotels. They do our dry cleaning. They work in our livestock industry. They raise and kill and pluck the chicken that is an irreplaceable staple of our daily diets. They do the work that many of us think is too hard. We underpay them because they are afraid to speak out against exploitation. They are forced to forego any recourse to Justice because of fear. And they are not the factor that they should be in the tax base that goes toward the building of a more viable society.
Beyond the convenient parochialism of some of those who aspire to leadership, we are inspired by an older and more hopeful vision of this country. It is a vision articulated in the poetry of Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
We are a nation of laws, but we must be more than that. Laws evolve. Let us be a nation of Justice. In the ongoing evolution of civil society, let us author laws that nurture the hopes and dreams of the widow and the orphan. This nation must continue to be a refuge for those who seek safety from cruelty and famine.
Let us be fair to those whose only transgression is seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The suggestions that we build walls along our northern and southern borders wreaks of the kind of existential backwardness that is best left behind us. While they may "break the law", there is nothing criminal about seeking a better future for oneself and one's children.