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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Pappas: The imaginary lines we draw

By Nicholas Pappas

It’s amazing the extent Americans get upset about imaginary lines.

South of Utah is a border. Centuries ago, someone grabbed a stick and drew a long line in the desert sand. On one side were proud, free Americans. On the other were aliens. Afterward, we flew a big, red, white and blue flag with stars in the corner.

Centuries later, the aliens were jealous. As Dr. Seuss would put it, “They wanted stars upon thars.”

Who could blame them? Ours is a land of opportunity. In America, hard work is rewarded. So, millions of aliens ran across an imaginary line.

Last Thursday, 57 of these aliens were arrested for living in the country illegally. Their employer, Universal Industrial Sales, a company that produces highway signs and guard rails, will face 10 federal charges and a maximum penalty of $500,000.

They will likely go bankrupt.

Most Utahns are for the raid. The Salt Lake Tribune‘s website received more than 100 praising comments. One stated, “Illegals are cockroaches! DEPORT THEM ALL WITH THEIR FAMILIES.”

It received an overwhelming “thumbs up.”

The common belief is illegal immigrants are draining our system. They do not have health care. They do not pay taxes. They do not love NASCAR. They drink Corona instead of Bud Light.

Actually, there are more than 47 million legal Americans without health care. There are legal citizens on welfare who do not pay taxes. NASCAR is just a series of left-hand turns. Bud Light is tap water.

There is a simple solution to this — make legal immigration easier. Yes, protect the borders, but if someone willingly wants to work in our land for a living wage, why not let them? Give them health care. Make them pay taxes.

Of course, it is wrong to break the law, but punishing those who come to live and work seems like the strangest law to enforce. There are legal citizens who are prostitutes, drug dealers, thieves and murderers. Yet, the presidential debates are focused on stopping those without a piece of paper from working so damn hard and getting them to leave the country.

The law is malignant.

And what if they don’t pay income tax? These immigrants still pay sales tax, contribute to American companies and do so without collecting Social Security, unemployment or all the other benefits given to those with “stars upon thars.”

Opponents of immigration claim the biggest pratfall is the lost jobs and lost identities of hard-working men born on American soil.

Check the facts. Immigrants are not taking jobs from Americans. With the growth of Latino immigration over the last 25 years, the U.S. economy, even in its current slump, is a leader in the industrial world. Our unemployment sits around 4.7 percent nationally. Our per-capita income is the third highest in the world. Although we lost 17,000 jobs this January, we had continued growth for more than 48 months before that.

Still not convinced? Are you worried that, being a great patriot, Latinos are going to ruin the American way of life? The Minutemen, a group formed to fight illegal immigration, argue that illegal immigrants do not learn English, do not adapt to our culture and are not at all concerned about the health of Britney Spears.

A study in The Los Angeles Times shows the falsity of that logic. While fewer than one in four (23 percent) Latino immigrants report being able to speak English fluently, around 88 percent of their U.S. born children do. A generation later, the figure rises to 94 percent.

At the turn of the century, America had an influx of Jewish immigrants. Truly, intolerance does not age. There was outrage similar to that faced by Latinos nowadays.

Yet, the Jewish communities worked hard and taught their children to work hard, and now they are a major part of American society. They are lawyers, dentists and comedians with hit TV shows.

Just half a century later, there was another rush of immigrants, this time Asians. The country saw a steady rise in Indians, Vietnamese and others looking toward opportunity. Now, only a generation later, their children are engineers, dentists and, thankfully, owners of Bombay House.

Throughout history, according to Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam, immigrants have accounted for “three to four times as many American Nobel Laureates, National Academy of Science members, Academy Award film directors and winners of Kennedy Center awards in the performing arts as native-born Americans.”

Look around at the private schools right now. You would be surprised how many students are Latino. Truly, the greatest thing about the American dream is that, while you may never walk a street paved in gold, your children can and will learn from your example.

Most immigrants are here for a reason. They want a better life for their children. America provides that.

Patriotism is having a love for your country. It is not having hatred of all others. If the Minutemen had their way, they would drape an American flag over a refrigerator box, climb in and call it America.

If you love something, share it. If immigrants want to cross an imaginary line, let them cross. If immigrants want jobs, let them work. And if immigrants want better lives for their families, let them live.

We are all immigrants. We are all citizens of the earth. El sol brilla para todos.

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