All the hoorah about immigration on the Mexican border reminds me of an immigrant visa case I had as vice consul in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A woman who was boon on the island of Dominca and who lived in Brazil was applying for an immigrant visa to join her mother who lived in the United States. At this time, the 1970s, the US quota for immigrant visas for people born in Dominica was quite small, about 200, I think.
This woman was on the list when she first applied; there were still available visa numbers. However, she was slow in getting her visa application together, which involved taking a medical exam, proving that she could support herself in the US, so that she would not be a public charge, getting a labor certification proving that she would displace an American worker, and so on.
When she finally got her application together, all the visa numbers for the Dominica quota had been used up, and she was no longer eligible for an immigrant visa. She went into hysterics in my office. She was crying, screaming, and trashing around. I thought I was going to have to call the police to take her away. After an hour or so of trying to calm her down, she finally left.
Today, if she lived in Mexico or Central America, rather than Brazil, she could just walk into the United States, join her mother and go to work. Whether she would receive welfare, take an American’s job, or even go into the drug business, is irrelevant. Public opinion just wants her to be happy. So, the favored immigration policy seems to be “Don’t worry, be happy!” America is an open country. Anybody who wants to can come. If it turns out you are a murderer or a drug dealer, we can worry about that later.
I don’t buy it. I think the US should and can choose who it wants to move to this country permanently. We don’t have to take everybody. We can set limits and standards and enforce them. I feel badly for the immigration officers who are charged with enforcing the existing laws. The public portrays them as heartless villains for doing their jobs. It reminds me of when I came home from the war in Vietnam and the general depiction of Vietnam veterans was as baby killers. This is a country that vilifies public servants for doing their job.
I support the enforcement of immigration laws, but I appear to be in the minority. If we want no immigration laws, repeal them all and abolish the Department of Homeland Security. I have never like the name “Homeland” anyway; to me it has a Nazi connotation because of its similarity to “heimat” which Wikipedia says is equivalent to “Vaterland,” the homeland of the German nation, people or tribe.