Remembering what really built this country: immigrants

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

I have to prove I was born in the United States, again.

I got the letter this week that I am being “audited” for my Real ID driver’s license, which means I have to pull out my US Passport and haul off to the Drivers’ License Center in Lancaster to prove, yes, I was born in California some decades ago.

Yes, it is annoying, as I proved my citizenship, passport in hand, to get the Real ID license some years ago.

In truth, it is a giant waste of resources — mine and the state’s — forced on us for political purposes and without much in the way of real value.

With the growing and foolish paranoia over unregistered immigrants, expect to see more challenges to your citizenship in every category from your right to vote to employment. And yes, they’ll all be performative and pointless.

Reportedly, Donald J. Trump says he plans to round up and deport some 11 million immigrants if he wins the 2024 election. Aside from being morally wrong (particularly if you are Christian — I beg people to read the Sermon on The Mount, but invariably “Christian Nationalists” claim Scripture is too “woke” and that Jesus guy was a Communist), such deportations would wreak havoc on the national economy and be a complete disaster for Chester County.

Agriculture would see crops rot in the fields and mushroom houses, work at many manufacturing plants would come to a halt and rich, white people would have to mow their own lawns and clean their own houses.

All of this because you’re being lied to about these undocumented folks.

No, they’re not more likely to commit crimes — statistically, they’re less likely to do anything to draw the attention of the authorities. Most of these folks pay taxes and into Social Security, knowing they will little benefit from either. They keep their heads down, work hard and hope to build a better life for their families. You very likely have ancestors who were much the same — the kind of people who fought to get here to build a better life and literally built this country.

Honestly, if we’re going to round up any demographic group for being a likely criminal threat, it would be MAGA Republicans. Trump is facing more than 80 felony indictments. Thousands of his followers face criminal charges for the violent insurrection riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Others face charges for fake electors, scams to build a fake fence and yes, voting illegally, among other things.

But such a roundup would be unAmerican, no less than Trump’s previous actions and his promises to amplify those actions if elected to a second term.

We do have a duty to correct the record, though, and point out that much of the broken remnants of the GOP functions more like the Gambino Crime Family than the political party it used to be. It has a Godfather (Trump) and capos (many of whom are all about the grift) and a band of fanatical soldiers, who scare the crap out of the remaining sane Republican elected officials, forcing them to toe the party line or face threats to themselves and their families.

So maybe on this Memorial Day, we should take stock of who we are as a nation, why so many brave men and women — many of them immigrants or first-generation Americans — sacrificed their lives to ensure the freedom of the rest of us. Maybe we should be asking why people are trying to scare us into surrendering that freedom and why. Maybe we need to ask why some people are so invested in creating division and hate.

We used to be better. We used to be kind and welcoming. We were the envy of both our friends and rivals because we built strength through diversity in origin and opinion. We were never perfect, but always striving toward that goal.

Now, too many of us see our political life as nothing more than just another reality show. Too many media outlets focus on who is up and who is down and highlight pointless personality spats. We no longer talk about stakes and aspirations — in short, we’re no longer great, but self-absorbed, whiny children.

On this Memorial Day, we need to remember who we were and who we can be again as a nation. We have lost our way and are on the brink of losing everything that made America that “shining city on a hill.”

New blood in our national arteries is not a poison, but rather the life blood of a growing and thriving nation. It is the literal wellspring of our greatness and has been for more than two centuries.

We are better than this and it is time to show it.

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