America is what President Ronald Reagan called the “shining city on the hill.” The Statue of Liberty welcomes immigrants to the “golden door.” I get it. President Trump gets it. Most Americans gets it. My grandfather was an immigrant. President Trump had family who were immigrants. Immigrants have thrived in America. But there is an expectation in America’s offering to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Let’s first understand a few things. America is not a candy store. It’s not a far-off fantasy land where money grows on trees and things are free. It’s not a place where you can sit on your duffs, not work, and go out to the mail once a month and collect the check that buys free stuff. There are some who would like us to believe that’s what America is. It isn’t. It’s what some want to make it…but that’s not what America is.
Immigrants should know that when they come to America, the rest of America is ready to welcome them, subject to meeting certain expectations. Here is what I, and I think most Americans, expect:
- We expect immigrants who come to America to become Americans. If you are coming from a country where the quality of life caused you to flee, then leave that country behind you. Embrace the things about America that brought you here.
- We I expect immigrants to honor the American flag and mourn for those who died to defend it. America is great because those men and women believed her values were worth dying for and wanted to preserve them for their loved ones. You have a place to escape to because that road is paved with their sacrifice. Respect it. Recognize it. Honor it. Don’t try to change the values they died for.
- We expect immigrants to learn the language–English. Unwillingness to do so means you don’t wish to communicate with Americans or become part of our nation or our communities. You’re the guest who wants to make their own rules.
- We expect immigrants to respect the U.S. Constitution. The bedrock principles found in that document are the foundation of everything that made you want to come to America in the first place. I don’t expect you to come from a country where you feared for your safety and then come to America and try to make it like the country you fled from. The U.S. Constitution IS the supreme law of the land. Don’t try to subordinate it to something else.
- We expect immigrants to earn their own way. America is not a free ride and every dollar of support that comes from the federal government to support you comes from the pocket of someone else, someone with a family that has needs, too. Coming to America because you think you can sit back with your hand out is tantamount to theft. It’s not our responsibility to provide for your family. It’s yours.
- We expect immigrants to respect the rights of other Americans–their right to honor the flag, worship as they choose, eat what they wish, love who they wish–without you being offended.
- We expect immigrants to do no harm. Don’t come to America to create strife, wage war, sell drugs, or commit crimes against the people who live here.
- Finally, we expect immigrants to come to America legally, like they did for decades, not sneak in the back door and force Americans to support you. Come in the front door, be willing to offer everything you have, and work–like all of the immigrants before you.
President Trump’s hard-line stance is to ensure American values are preserved. America is very pro-immigrant. The invitation to the “huddled masses” has always been open. But there are certain expectations. It is not a lawless free-for-all. These expectations are not unfair. They are not unreasonable. They are not anti-immigrant. Meet them and you will be welcome here. If not, I greet with suspicion why you wanted to come in the first place. The rest of America will, too.