Rebecca McCauley Rench
I want what ISIS wants. ISIS wants the smartest and the brightest to be a part of their caliphate. I want the smartest and the brightest fleeing the borders of Syria and Iraq to be on our side, fighting ISIS every step of the way.
Albert Einstein. Sergey Brin. Nikola Tesla. What do these people have in common? They were not Americans at birth, but rather became Americans. We are a great nation because of those that came before us—immigrants. We accepted these great minds and hard workers into the United States because we welcomed all those with the drive and ambition to make it to our country. In the modern era, immigration to the USA has become burdensome and there are many calls to limit the number of immigrants even further.
Year: 1776 Population: 2.5 million Status: Unstable, rebel colony
From the time our Constitution was drafted until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the U.S.A. had an open door policy for immigration. With a total population that barely exceeded modern-day West Virginia, and the close of the Revolutionary War, it was a no-brainer to let people in. We needed these daring explorers to help us conquer our new country. If you came to the United States before 1882, you were welcome to be here. Ellis Island, opened in 1892, was our government’s call for immigration reform when they asked those entering to simply sign a book and swear an oath. Why do we insist on having a different system in place today? Shouldn’t becoming an American citizen be as easy as getting a birth certificate?
Year: 1924 Population: 114 million Status: Post-WWI
Almost 150 years after the founding of our country, like much of the world, our population has swelled to 45x its Revolutionary War population. This was due both to immigration and advances in health and medicine. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924 which instituted quotas based on the current percentage of the U.S. population of that nationality. This law was extremely biased towards those of European descent and like so many other immigration laws in our history was based on prejudice. With most of the war refugees coming from Europe in the mid-twentieth century, the USA took in our fair share of refugees. With the prosperity of the US being what it is, why wouldn’t we take in more refugees, often the best and the brightest of their country, today?
Year: 1965 Population: 194 million Status: World Power on the Rise
The U.S. took another turn in its immigration policy by implementing the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. This law negated the quota system based per country of origin and allowed immigration on the basis of worldwide quotas and the specific circumstances and career of the immigrant. This is the immigration policy that remains in place today with the addition of the US Patriot Act, which allows for deportation and barred immigration of individuals connected with terrorism. While there are often addendums passed to take in certain numbers of refugees, we lose some of our best minds that come to the USA for higher education. Why send those away that are the best and the brightest when they would rather stay here? Every person we take in is a person that is a person to fight against ISIS and one they can’t recruit.
Year: 2015 Population: 319 million Status: World Power
While bringing cultures together is never easy, immigrants helped build our railroads and skyscrapers. They mined our coal and created a new life for themselves and their families. Most people that call themselves Americans today are the descendants of those people who dared to come to this country. With every individual that we bring into the American fold, the U.S.A. grows stronger economically and socially as we become diverse and expand our knowledge-base. With our abundance of resources and land, we should welcome these explorers just like our own ancestors were enticed by lands and riches.
You will hear Presidential candidates speak about securing our borders as a first step in immigration policy, but you should ask yourself if there is a need to keep these people out. Harkening back to the day of signing the book at Ellis Island, immigrants should simply be required to be documented without the need for quotas or bureaucratic procedures. When we are born in this country, we are registered with a birth certificate and social security number. Shouldn’t the process of being “born” into America be the same regardless of where you came from? Change in our society and culture is inevitable and we should embrace that change with open arms and open doors to the shining city on the hill.