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Monday, May 9, 2016

An Immigrant Exchange Program

I have known a large number of immigrants during my lifetime, especially those from Latin America. Every one I have known has been a hard-working citizen with strong family values and a devout religious background. (Granted, I've met a good many of them at church.) Latin America is an ideal place from which to select our immigrants. We share a common colonial past and polyglot ethnic makeup, ours mostly from Europe and Africa, but still diverse in culture. We share a religiosity that Europe lacks and that is capable of embracing religious tolerance and liberty. We have much in common.

Simón Bolívar and George Washington: Freedom Fighters

However, there are many people in both our country and Latin America who are lacking some of these qualities as well. When they immigrate, they cause societal problems with crime and costs to the welfare system. Those who are born here do the same. We need some way to select the best from other countries while simultaneously getting rid of the worst from ours.

I propose an immigrant exchange program with Latin American nations. We will agree to take immigrants from their countries who are able in body and mind to be productive citizens and who have no criminal record. In turn, for each immigrant we take in we will send to their countries someone who has been welfare-dependent for five years or more, excluding those with chronic disabilities such as multiple sclerosis and etc. Immigrants we take in will not be eligible for state benefits of any kind for a period of five years. If they become burdens to the state any time after that (i.e. living off government programs instead of working), they too will be exchanged for a better class of immigrants.

It won't be a burden to most Latin American nations because they do not provide the same welfare state largess that we do. In most of Latin America, you work or you starve. It will actually be good for those who emigrate to develop self-sufficiency and a work ethic. They will finally have the dignity of earning their own way through life.

Immigration is a key aspect of who we are as a nation. In the past, we typically welcomed immigrants because they fit our needs. We have deviated from that purpose and have suffered the natural consequences. Let us welcome with open arms immigrants who share our values and who will contribute to our culture and economy. They will make much better citizens than the many native-born individuals who simply leech off the productivity of others.

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