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Coming to America


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Zack Armstrong
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 7, 1999
Talk about this story

It has been a busy week for immigration in the news. Unfortunately, it has also been a tragic one. Locally, a van full of Mexicans on their way to the states crashed, killing 13. Elsewhere, another boat load of Cubans met their makers after braving a terrible storm. This happens frequently but has captured media attention due to the fact that a child was aboard. He washed up on shore in Florida, and now his father wants the boy returned to Cuba while his family here is not willing to part with him.

The only successful immigration story that made any news was that of 55 brave little tortoises who clung to the legs of an American pet store owner on his way back home. He was arrested and awaits trial, while the turtles were given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Good for them.

All of this immigration talk has brought the ethical issues that surround it to the conversations that have surrounded me the last couple of days. Some people are remaining completely apathetic. "These foreigners have tried and failed." This is the stance that the Cuban government has accused the White House of taking. They blame us for the shipwreck because they notified our Coast Guard of the ship and its possible dilemma, and we did nothing. If we want to solve our immigration problems, we need to target the source.

Others have expressed a certain amount of remorse about the tragedies. Note that these are the same people who filled with glee over the fact that the tortoises made it through customs unscathed.

Still others were happy that these people didn't make it in alive. Granted, these are angry people. These are people who, upon finding out about the tortoises, wondered where they would be able to be hunted after their re-release into the wild, but they bring a very good point to the table. That point is this: we have too many people in this country as it is. We do not need more of these illegal immigrants taking all of the jobs and living off our tax dollars.

All of these people have valid points. This is a problem. First of all, this is human life we're talking about, so an element of remorse upon hearing of their deaths is inevitable. But at the same time they are immigrating illegally, and we do have a lot of people in this country. We have enough people to necessitate laws keeping more out.

Our country was founded by immigrants. It was founded by immigrants on the premise (well, one of many) that other immigrants would always be welcome. When we begin to get rid of this principle, we begin to contradict one of the foundations of the freedom and greatness that these immigrants come here in search of. Ironic.

No one will ever be satisfied all of the time. If we want people to stop coming in to our country, we need to target the source, not the destination. If people are happy with their own country they won't want to leave. This sounds absurdly obvious, but there has to be more that we can do with the wealth and influence that our country has to help the countries that are not so fortunate.

But, then again, we are far too greedy for that to ever happen. Material goods are far more important than people who are not American. The only thing that I can see for these hopeful immigrants to do is to dress like tortoises because if you have a shell, you have a chance. I don't really believe that to be true. I really just have this strange fantasy about seeing a whole swarm of giant turtles.

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