Immigration, reduced to its most basic form, the soul of a Nation

This comment was written by Marie, one of our regular posters. For me, this post cut to the heart and common sense analysis of a complicated issue. Thank you Marie!

Someday the true cost of the war on illegal immigration will be realized. I do not mean in dollars and cents. The true cost is to the national identity: the sense of who we are and what we value. It will hit us once the enforcement fever stops.

It is my belief that we are a nation of immigrants and one nation of immigrants is holding another nation of immigrants in bondage, exploiting its labor while ignoring its suffering, condemning its lawlessness while sealing off a path to living lawfully. The evidence is all around that the WELCOMING spirit at the American core is slipping away.

The campaigns to raid homes and workplaces has spread indiscriminate terror among millions of people who pose no threat. After one of the largest raids in Postville, hundreds were swiftly force-fed through the legal system and sent to prison. Their civil-rights violated. Lawyers complained that workers had been steamrolled into giving up their rights, treated more as a presumptive criminal gang than as potentially exploited workers who deserved a fair hearing. Immigrants in detention suffer without lawyers and decent medical care even when they are mortally ill. Counties with spare jail cells are lining up for federal contracts as prosecutions fill the system to bursting. Police all over are checking papers, empowered by politicians who are itching to enlist in a federal campaign.

Legal paths are clogged or do not exist. Some backlogs are so long that they are measured in decades or generations. A bill to fix the system died a year ago and there is a strategy is to force millions into fear.

There are few national figures standing firm against restrictionism. Senator Edward Kennedy has done so, but his Senate colleagues who are running for president seem by comparison to be in hiding. John McCain supported sensible reform, but whenever he mentions it, his party starts braying. It is unknown at this point how Sarah Palin stands on the issue. Hillary Rodham Clinton has lost her voice on this issue more than once. Barack Obama might someday test his vision of a new politics against restrictionist hatred, but he has not yet done so. The American public’s moderation on immigration reform, confirmed in poll after poll, begs the candidates to confront the issue with courage and a plan. But they have been vague and have not risen to the challenge. I write letter after letter to them. I feel fortunate if any reply.

The restrictionist message is simple — illegal immigrants deserve no rights, mercy or hope. It refuses to recognize that illegality is NOT an identity. Unless the nation reduces its pressure to enforcement, illegal immigrants will remain forever THEM and never US, subject to whatever abusive regimes the powers of the moment may devise.

I have said many times before the Federal Gov’t needs to do more to beef up security at our borders and ports but in the interim there are over 12 million undocumented people here and we need to do something. The restrictionist approach is not and will not work. There needs to be a path for all the hard working, tax paying immigrants to become documented. You see for me it has always been about the God given rights of ALL HUMAN BEINGS and for me It is about being treated with dignity and respect.

Every time this country has singled out a group of newly arrived immigrants for unjust punishment, the shame has echoed through history. Think of the Chinese and Irish, the Italians and Jews, Catholics and Americans of Japanese ancestry. Our grand children will study the immigration panic of the 2000s, which harmed countless lives, and mocked the nation’s most deeply held values