In April, Arizona passed a law requiring immigrants to always carry their alien registration documents and mandating that police officers question anyone they believe to be in the United States illegally.
Last week, the Justice Department filed a suit to overturn the law on the grounds that ‘although a state may adopt regulations that have an indirect or incidental effect on aliens, a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with federal immigration law.’
Arizona’s law has created a heated debate throughout the country, a nation historically known as a ‘melting pot’ that welcomed tired and poor huddled masses. While there have been some huge public gestures protesting the law, such as the Phoenix Suns’s “Los Suns” jerseys during the NBA Playoffs, polls by both CBS and CNN show that 57% of Americans support the law.
So, I want to ask:
My family arrived in the United States in 1921 from Hungary. My great-grandmother brought her husband and kids here in an attempt to protect them from war. Whenever I hear debates about immigration, I can’t help but think that my family has only been American for 89 years, and that since America only declared independence in 1776, anyone has only been American for 234 years. That is not very long when you consider that people have been English, for example, for about 1,083 years.
The truth is that in America’s short 234 years as a nation, every single family has had to immigrate from somewhere (except, of course, the Natives Americans. Good thing they didn’t have stronger immigration laws, eh? Oh, and the slaves. America brought them here, remember?). So what right does anyone have to claim ownership over this country? How can someone whose grandmother, great-grandfather, or whomever, brought their family here in search of opportunity and a better life deny that same possibility to someone else? Since when did the Statue of Liberty’s ‘beacon-hand’ cease to ‘glow world-wide welcome’?