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So we got this “build the wall” narrative heating up. Government — at least “part” of the government — is shut down and our president doesn’t appear he is going to budge on the issue of having funding for some sort of barrier —“call it a wall, fence, whatever” — erected on the border between Mexico and the U.S.
In light of this, I share the following encounter I had this past weekend.
In the course of a personal business transaction, I met an elderly gentleman who is a third-generation descendant of a Chinese immigrant and his Native American wife. For his privacy’s sake, I shall refer to him as “John.”
At his initiative, he inquired of me as to why there was so much animus now regarding immigration since, in a very real sense, everyone living in the United States that is not of “Native American” descent should consider themselves a product of immigration?
Before I offer my answer, I would like to elaborate on just how John came to be a citizen of the United States. As mentioned before, John’s great-grandfather was a Chinese immigrant who was sold into slavery. John was adamant in pointing out the fact that slavery in America did not only involve those of African descent, but also those of Asian and Caribbean descent, as well as several other nationalities.
Somehow, over the course of several decades, John’s parents ended up in Trinidad where he was born. Upon my initial conversations with John over the phone, I thought I detected a Caribbean accent but certainly had no idea of John’s nationality, or ancestry, until we met. May I say, I was somewhat taken aback when I saw this elderly, Asian-looking gentleman with a distinct Caribbean accent.
When he asked his question regarding immigration, he mentioned his journey to citizenship and it was obvious that he was not a fan of the current “mood” surrounding immigration, especially since he obviously believed that his journey to citizenship had started with a grandfather who had been brought to this country against his will, or at best, once here, had been forced into slave labor.
At the core of his concern, however, was what he believed to be of a much greater issue than immigrants crossing the Southern border seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and that issue is one with which I had to fully agree.
When he asked for my opinion on the issue of immigration and the consternation many feel with the idea of “open borders,” I explained my opinion on the matter, which I believe is what most Americans see as the issue; we have no problem with people immigrating to the country legally, and that once here, they assimilate to the American way of life which is abiding by our laws and Constitution, and that they become contributing members of our society, independent of government support.
What we see far too often, however, is that those entering our country illegally, even legally, is that they are incentivized to become another “drain” on the taxpayer since most will immediately petition our government agencies for assistance in housing, food and education, and will receive those things while the American taxpayer is left footing that bill along with having to provide for themselves those same things without the assistance of government.
How do I know this? Besides the mountain of information regarding subsidies that are being used and abused by those entering our country, both legally and illegally, both my wife and I have seen this firsthand, especially since we now have a daughter in college, not to mention my wife’s endeavor to further her education to improve herself professionally.
The best we can get is “financial aid” in the form of a loan while someone who has paid little or no money into this system will be allowed to attend college completely free of charge. How does that make sense?
It doesn’t. But that is just part of a much larger problem that brings me back to John and my discussion and the issue both John and I agree needs to be dealt with just as dogmatically as a clear demarcation of our national boundaries, and that is the fact that there are third- and fourth-generation American citizens still relying on government for those things that should have long ago been weaned from expectation.
Yes, John, that is just as troubling, even more so, than some of those poor, unfortunate souls seeking a better life at our Southern border.
Perhaps we can experiment with an “exchange program” in the workforce; for every one of these young people walking the streets with nothing better to do than live off the government teat, we exchange them for someone willing to run a bucket full of sweet potatoes or cucumbers from the field to a truck in 100-degree heat.
Alvin R. Bass Jr. is a Wilson native. He and his wife, Robin, have two children, one granddaughter, three dogs and a cat. Follow him on Facebook at “The Lovable Bigot.”