Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Immigration: Melting Pot vs. Boiling Pot

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

On March 18, 1903, the double- stacked Italian steamer Nord America sailed into New York Harbor with her cargo of Italian immigrants, most of who were traveling in steerage. It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 50’s. Can you imagine the excitement and visualize the scene as these new arrivals crowded the decks to catch their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of New York? They would soon dock at Ellis Island and be processed for entry into America, where opportunities and freedoms only few imagined awaited them.

Among the passengers was my wife’s grandfather, 22 year old Giovanni Alessandro Palladino, a handsome farmer from Campobasso, Italy. Earlier that year his sister had received a photograph of a young and beautiful Italian maiden by the name of Maria Josephine DeSantis. She and her family had arrived in America 10 years earlier. They settled in Oswego, New York. It was here that Giovanni planned to secure the hand in marriage of a woman he only knew from a black and white photograph.

The couple wed later that year. They raised their family in Oswego; 11 children- seven girls and four boys. They changed their last name from Palladino to Pauldine. Maria Josephine became just Josephine and Giovanni, simply John. To them it sounded more American.

Josephine was already Americanized and helped teach John English. He not only learned the language quickly but the American customs as well.

They didn’t want to just live in America and take from her what they could, but be a part of America and give something back. Owning property, paying taxes and serving their country was an honor and a privilege.

The Pauldines taught their children to respect their Italian heritage, but more importantly instilled in them that sense of gratitude and responsibility they felt toward America. They always referred to themselves proudly as Americans who happened to be of Italian descent- never as Italian- Americans.

Between 1892 and 1949, 33 million new arrivals to the U.S. would pass through Ellis Island and follow similar paths to earning their citizenship. They arrived from all over Europe; Ireland, France and Poland, Italy and Germany. In the end, despite being from varied backgrounds and cultures these immigrants all wanted one thing; to be a contributing part of the American experience.

Legal immigration has provided the U. S. with a never-ending supply of hard working and patriotic people-and some of the most brilliant and creative as well.

Edward Teller of Hungary was the architect of the hydrogen bomb; Enrico Fermi from Italy won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics; Irving Berlin, perhaps our greatest American composer, was born in Russia; A. Felix Frankfurter of Vienna Austria became a United States Supreme Court Justice; Andrew Carnegie born in Scotland became a steel tycoon who donated millions of dollars to help build hundreds of libraries across America. And don’t forget Albert Einstein!

And still they come. Last year nearly 700,000 immigrants entered this country legally. Most of them will contribute to the fabric of America in a positive way.

Becoming an American citizen takes more than someone sneaking into a country under the cloak of darkness and lingering in the shadows of an open society that respects diversity, but abhors deception. This is why so many American’s are opposed to amnesty.

Earning U. S. citizenship is a process. Our history has shown it works. It is the key ingredient for the assimilation of immigrants into our democratic society.

To become a citizen one must be here legally and have resided here for at least five years, or three years as a spouse. Immigrants must reside in the state where they apply and be able to read, write and speak English. They are also required be at least 18 years old, of good moral character, have an understanding of the fundamentals of our history and government and support the United States Constitution.

The path to citizenship might seem arduous to some, but in the end it is this process that empowers our nation, our communities and ultimately the immigrants themselves; instilling in them an understanding of what it means to be an American.

Conversely those aliens who come here illegally are forced to live on the fringes of society, unable and ill- equipped to cohesively function as Americans, yet consuming and testing the limits of our resources, our patience and our benevolence.

While filling our nation’s perceived need for cheap labor, illegal immigrants are, perhaps unwittingly, turning this country’s legendary “melting pot” into a scornful “boiling pot.” This caldron of contempt and resentment on the part of many Americans, including most of the legal immigrants who’ve earned their citizenship, is understandable.

This illegal alien crisis is made even more complex because many come here only to work, with no plans to ever become U. S. Citizens. They’re exporting billions of U. S. dollars earned here south of the border, while consuming billions of our tax dollars to help support them and their families while they’re here in the states. The math simply doesn’t work.

The bottom line is this: until we demand our government strictly enforce the immigration laws we have, and/or create stricter laws if we need them, this chaos will continue and ultimately bring this once sovereign nation to its knees.

The more we abandon the long held belief in America as the melting pot, the more we embrace the kind of divisive double speak that we see in Barack Obama's church, "Trinity United Church of Christ". Obama claims to be patriotic. He simultaneously advocates the segregation and victimhood status for blacks espoused by his former pastor. These two issues are no more compatible than it is possible to reconcile another of Obama's contradiction. He claims to believe we have an individual right to bear arms and yet says government has a right to deny us that right. Both cannot be true. Obama, is a master of doublespeak.

One thing both Obama and the Democrat Party endorse is the right to citizenship for illegal aliens. This seems to me to be based on a deep seated hatred for America. Illegal aliens don't care about our laws. They care about their own "rights". Obama does not care about America either. He cares about the "rights" of those who have self segregated from our nation claiming victimhood. His pastor hates America and Obama has embraced this man for 2 decades.

We need to return to the concept of "melting pot" and stop embracing the self segregation which is driving us towards the boiling pot Bob describes above.


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