Protect the border, focus on the needs of Americans, particularly veterans

The plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty quotes the American poet Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Remarkable words that represent the essence of American greatness. All of us, unless your heritage is Native American, has some sort of family immigration story. Some came for economic or religious reasons; some for adventure; others simply for freedom and opportunity. People migrated from Italy, Germany, France, England, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Africa, and Asia. From across the Earth they heard the unmistakable bellow of freedom.

Those with the heart and the guts overcame the adversities of starvation, disease, and the unpredictable violence of the American landscape to fulfill their hopes of a better life. In many cases, our forefathers were nothing short of heroes. What the generations before us achieved was monumental. Don't be fooled by some media propaganda: Immigration is not a weakness; it’s one of our greatest strengths.

However, we live in a very different world than the one in which our grandparents grew up. The Ellis Island days are a hazy ancient memory. The last immigrant to come through Ellis Island was Arne Peterssen in 1954, a 48-year-old merchant seaman from Norway.

Today, tens of thousands of immigrants try to make their way into our country every single month. Some of those immigrants try to gain access legally. All too many are content with breaking the law. I know it's a talking point of the right, but the truth is that it’s not about immigration − it's only about illegal immigration. We need to know who's here; where they're from; what their intentions are; and whether they’re going to be productive members of society.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the current cost of illegal immigration hovers around $116 billion annually. This includes, but isn't limited to, medical costs, law enforcement, incarceration, and education.

Illegal immigration translates to lost job opportunities for American citizens. The latest estimate from an MIT-Yale study concluded upwards of 22 million illegal aliens live in this country (That’s more people than live in Florida!). All undocumented people are eligible for certain governmental assistance. It seems that for the better part of the last four decades, we’ve put many of the needs and wants of non-citizens above the needs and wants of American citizens.

We are closing in on being $22 trillion in debt. We simply can no longer afford to help. Think of it like this; it would be tough to justify giving your neighbor $500 off a new suit when you’re buried in credit card debt and your own child goes to school wearing one shoe. The hand-out days for non-citizens must end.

Lady Liberty was dedicated Oct. 28, 1886. She has stood as a beacon of freedom for anyone who could make their way to our shores ever since. However, 1886 is quite different from 1986, or 1996, or 2019.

How can we afford to allow in millions of illegals and figure out a way to pay for their needs and still sleep soundly at night knowing we have tens of thousands of homeless veterans sleeping under bridges and in tent cities across this country? America can only absorb so much. America is going broke.

I'll ask my liberal friends: What's the right number of people that should be allowed into this country annually? One million? 2 million? 10 million? 50 Million?!

Legal immigration has made this country the great Melting Pot, but illegal immigration is tearing at the fibers of our unity, stressing an already over-stressed economy.

We clearly need a complete immigration overhaul. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to figure out what to do with the folks who are here and figure out what to do with the ones who want to come.

But in the meantime, we need to stop the flow of drugs, gangs, criminals, sex traffickers and terrorists who have plagued border security for the last 40 years.

Yes, the words on the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty still ring true. But maybe, just maybe, the tired, the poor, the homeless and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free are ALREADY HERE. Let’s help them first.

Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a local station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.

 

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