As Thanksgiving Approaches, Remember How God Blessed the Immigrants Before Us

Thanksgiving month: A time to celebrate pioneers who came to America, natives who were hospitable, and the sweet land of liberty that resulted.

The immigration debate rages hot, and here are three columns (from 1994, 2002, and 2008) from the WORLD Magazine vault that I wrote in relation to that debate. I don’t at all minimize the concerns many Americans have in regard to radical Islamists or MS-13 gangsters in our midst. I would like to suggest that our basic predisposition should be pro-immigration for historical, sociological, and theological reasons.

Not ignoring the difficulties and protecting both national security and the rule of law, we should try to find a way to make immigration work for those who seek refuge in America and those who are grateful to our ancestors for coming.

Don’t close the gate (2002)
It’s almost Thanksgiving, when we remember how God blessed, and some Indians helped, a group of new immigrants to America. A month from now comes Christmas, when we celebrate the most sensational immigration of all time, the birth of Jesus.

Those events are worth considering as we examine the arguments about immigration today. Is it possible to take wise precautions against both terrorism and future disunity while honoring the pro-immigration flavor of American and Biblical history? Let’s look at the four types of anti-immigration arguments.

Type 1 criticizes not the immigrants themselves but a culture no longer committed to helping them assimilate. Some schools do a poor job of teaching immigrant children English, and thus limit their social and economic mobility. Some schools emphasize America’s faults, instead of teaching that this country has accorded immigrants liberty and opportunity unprecedented in world history. Concerns about what we teach immigrants are valid if America is to become not a divided nation, but one still living out the phrase e pluribus unum.

Type 2 arguments emphasize homeland security. These also are generally valid. Given the backgrounds of the 9/11 perpetrators, extra caution is in order when reviewing visa applications from countries that grow terrorists and do not crack down on them. The federal government must make our borders more than paper lines if it is to fulfill its constitutional function of providing for the common defense.

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SOURCE: WORLD Magazine, Marvin Olasky