I am writing to you as a concerned and sympathetic American who is a Republican. My sentiments do not represent those of every American — that would be impossible. But I believe the following represents what most Americans believe.
First, a message to those of you here illegally:
You may be very surprised to hear this, but in your position, millions of Americans, including me, would have done what you did.
#ad#If I lived in a poor country with a largely corrupt government, a country in which I had little or no hope for an improved life for me and my children, and I could not legally get into the world’s freest, most affluent country, the country with the most opportunities for people of any and every background, I would do whatever I could do to get into that country illegally.
Mexico and many other Latin American countries are largely hopeless places for most of their people. America offers hope to everyone willing to work hard. Who could not understand why any individual, let alone a father or mother of a family, would try to get into the United States — legally preferably, illegally if necessary?
Now that I have made it clear that millions of us understand what motivates you and do not morally condemn you for entering America illegally, I have to ask you to try to understand what motivates us.
No country in the world can allow unlimited immigration. If America opened its borders to all those who wish to live here, hundreds of millions of people would come in. That would, of course, mean the end of the United States economically and culturally.
If you are from Mexico, you know that Mexico’s treatment of illegal immigrants from south of its border is far harsher than is my country’s of illegal immigrants from your country and elsewhere.
All it takes is common sense to understand that we simply cannot afford to take care of all of you in our medical, educational, penal, and other institutions. However much you may pay in sales tax, most illegal immigrants are a financial and social burden in those states in which most of them settle.
Yes, many of you are also a blessing. Many of you take care of our children and our homes. Others of you prepare our food and do other work that is essential to our society. We know that. As individuals, the great majority of you are hardworking, responsible, decent people.
But none of that answers the question: How many people can this country allow to come in?
The moment you answer that question is the moment you realize that Americans’ worries about illegal immigration have nothing to do with “racism” or any negative feeling toward Hispanics.
Those who tell you it is racism or xenophobia are lying about their fellow Americans for political or ideological reasons. You know from your daily interactions with Americans that the vast majority of us treat you with the dignity that every fellow human being deserves. Your daily lives are the most eloquent refutation of the charge of racism and bigotry. The charge is a terrible lie. Please don’t believe it. You know it is not true.
Democrats will act as your defenders, telling you that opposition to your presence here is race-based. There is no truth to that. As you probably know in your hearts, you have come to the least racist place on earth. The vast majority of us could not care less if your name is Gonzalez or Jones. That’s why the chances are fifty-fifty that the child of Hispanic immigrants will end up marrying a non-Hispanic American.
#page#One more thing: Many of you desire to return to your homeland. This is understandable, as many of you came here not in order to become Americans but in order to earn the money that would allow you to afford to return home and lead a better life there. But as understandable as that is on an individual level, you must understand that having millions of people in our midst who feel no bond to our country and who do not want to become one of us is a serious problem. You would feel the same about people who came to your country to make money and use the medical, social, educational, and other services paid for by your people.
#ad#It is also a moral problem. There are countless people around the world who wish to come to America in order to become Americans, not just to earn money here. Many of you are taking their places. That is not fair to them or to America.
So the truth is, in fact, simple: If you were an American, you would want to stop illegal immigration; and if most of us were you, we would do what you did to get into America. Neither of us is bad. You care about your family. We care about our country.
Now, a note to those of you who are here legally and to those of you who are American citizens.
First, while many of you understandably sympathize with the plight of fellow Latinos who are here illegally, you surely must understand that America cannot afford unlimited illegal immigration. This may well create a tension between your mind and your heart, and between your ethnic heritage and your allegiance to America.
If it does, your fellow Americans ask that you be guided by your mind (and, we believe, conscience) and by your concern for America. If anyone knows how extraordinarily welcoming America has been to Latinos — from Mexico to Cuba to South America — it is you. For your sake as well as America’s, please do not succumb to the politics of victimization, which are used solely and cynically to get your support for the Democratic party.
Finally, and most important, by voting for Democratic candidates, you are voting for a type of government more like the ones most Latinos fled. Take the Mexican example. The Democratic party is, in most important ways, an American version of the PRI. The PRI governed Mexico for 70 years and brought its economy to its knees through vast government spending, the squashing of individual initiative, a bloated bureaucracy, unsustainable debt, and the subsequent devaluing of the Mexican peso.
Why, for God’s sake, would you want to see that replicated in America? The very reason America has been so prosperous and so free — the very reason you or your ancestors came here, like almost every other American or his ancestors — is that America has had more limited government and therefore more liberty than any other country in the world. The Republican party represents all that you or your parents came to America for — and what Mexico and other Latin American countries lack: individual opportunity and individual responsibility. It is also the party that represents your social values.
Admittedly, the Democratic party appeals to your emotions. But a vote for the Democratic party is a vote to make America like the Mexico of the PRI. And a vote for the Democratic party is a vote to undo the great American achievement of uniting the children of immigrants from all over the world as Americans.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.