Vetting: “make a careful and critical examination of (something).”
Things are very different now than they were just a few decades ago. America, the melting pot of the world, was once able to allow immigration into the country that was unparalleled and practically carefree. People wanted to come here for opportunity, freedom, and to escape whatever conditions they were in before. It was through this positive immigration and appropriate integration that some of our greatest strides were made as a nation.
Today, there are people who are not here for the opportunity. They despise our freedom. Rather than escaping the conditions they were in before, they want to impose the same conditions on America.
We are now in the era when vetting is absolutely necessary. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not true vetting can be accomplished. Unfortunately, it cannot be.
What about “extreme vetting”?
There are two misunderstandings being promulgated for different reasons by both political sides. On one hand, we have the Republicans talking about “extreme vetting” in a way that’s supposed to make us feel like everyone entering the nation has to go through intense psychological tests and are forced to wear tracking anklets at all times or a DHS team will swarm upon them. The Democrats want to paint “extreme vetting” as a racist roadblock that keeps the next Indra Nooyi or Shahid Khan out of the country so Caucasian males can reign supreme in the American patriarchy.
Yesterday’s Manhattan terrorist attack was perpetrated by a man, Sayfullo Saipov, who is a legal permanent resident of the United States. He came here in 2010 from Uzbekistan through the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. 50,000 people annually come from countries with low rates of immigration into the United States. They are selected via “lottery.”
Some, including the President, are calling for the program to be replaced by a merit-based system. Others are calling for it to be scrapped altogether. Neither solution addresses the bigger problem with our legal immigration system. It’s not about who comes in, how they’re selected, or their nation of origin. These elements can affect the likelihood that someone entering the country will be peaceful and productive members of American society, but they aren’t guarantees. Uzbekistan is conspicuously not on the President’s travel ban list.
Even if we’re willing to dramatically slow all forms of legal immigration and pay the tremendous cost to comprehensively vet every person attempting to come to America, we wouldn’t be able to stop all negative elements from entering. Some who pass any form of vetting will become criminals. Some will hate America. Some will become terrorists.
Do we close the borders completely?
This can actually be an initially appealing concept for those of us who are worried about terrorism or other negatives associated with legal immigration. Here’s the problem. If anyone attempted to put an end to all legal immigration, they’d be pushed out of DC faster than Harvey Weinsten was pushed out of Hollywood.
Let’s say support grew and it became feasible to call for closing the borders altogether. After all, there’s nothing that requires us as a sovereign nation to allow anyone into the country if we so choose. Could we really shut the doors completely? Yes. Shortly thereafter, the United States would crumble.
Between the intense opposition to such a move internally and the international outcry that would isolate us from the rest of the world, our entire financial and social systems would collapse rapidly. Riots would become regularities. International trade would come to a screeching halt starting a domino effect on the economy that could not be stopped until there was complete and utter chaos. America would become a third-world country in a matter of months.
Beyond concerns over the destruction that would ensue if we closed the borders completely, there’s another factor. Most legal immigrants integrate and become productive members of society. As a legal immigrant myself, I thought it necessary to point this fact out.
If there’s no way to truly vet those who enter the nation in a way that prevents attacks such as the one in New York City and there’s no way to stop immigration altogether without destroying the nation, what can be done?
I’ve read dozens of recommendations on fixing the legal immigration system. Most offer solutions that are broken down in a paragraph or two. All have major flaws that are conspicuously ignored. This brought me to the conclusion that we’re asking the wrong questions.
As I mentioned before, I’m a legal immigrant. Saying that doesn’t paint the full picture of how I became so earnestly patriotic. You see, this is all I’ve ever known. My father was in the Air Force and met my mother in the Philippines. They brought me here when I was 4-months-old, so unlike the majority of legal immigrants, I had no preexisting culture embed in me to compete with living as an American. I’ve only known what it’s like to be an American. I don’t speak Tagalog. I’ve never left the country. That’s not to say I abandoned my heritage completely, but I was never exposed to it any more than an average American who picks up a 5-pack of lumpia at a Filipino fast food joint.
Most of my family on my mother’s side now live in America. My uncle served in the U.S. Navy. One cousin is an engineer for the government. Another is a nurse. They all speak English very well, have barbecues on the weekends, and were rabid football fans until the Chargers left San Diego. None of them could be terrorists. None of them could be criminals. All of them contribute as productive tax-paying Americans.
What makes my family different from people like Sayfullo Saipov? They want to be here to experience the American dream and have always been willing to do what it takes to succeed.
In other words, my family appreciates the opportunity, freedom, and living conditions available to us in America. We need all legal immigrants to feel the same way.
Immigration as a privilege and a responsibility
As radical ideas go, this may be one of the strangest. That’s the situation we’re in, though; we can’t stop the flow of negative elements into the nation without cutting it off completely which would destroy America even faster than the negative elements. Radical ideas may be all we have left.
Currently, immigrants and their U.S.-born children number nearly 90 million. That’s over a quarter of the population. Anyone who says we haven’t done our part as a nation hasn’t looked at these numbers.
To make immigration a privilege, we have to limit it dramatically.
To make it a responsibility, we have to set criteria for proper integration.
It’s time to make “extreme vetting” a secondary notion. That’s not to say we don’t need to vet immigrants. We cannot rely on vetting alone. It can’t be done, not with the numbers that are currently coming in. America does not have a responsibility to the world to take in so many immigrants every year. 50,000 are part of the diversity program annually. How about we make that 5,000. Random lottery? How about we go with “merit-based,” though not exactly what President Trump describes.
What merits should be considered? The standard ones should definitely apply, such as an ability to support oneself and one’s family without government assistance. On the other hand, I’m less interested in bringing over the “best people” as the President often discusses. He envisions engineers, scientists, and accountants. In reality we need them to be from a wide spectrum of vocations. Why? Because we cannot allow any industries to take on an infusion of immigrant talent that prevents Americans from getting those jobs. Full-spectrum immigration means the responsible laborer is just as important as the responsible chemist. As long as they can provide for themselves and pay taxes, they cover the first merit.
The second merit is a controversial one for some reason. They need to be able to speak English. I’m not going to argue this point. Either you get it or you don’t.
The third merit is even more controversial. There can’t be a religious test, but there can be a Constitution-alignment test. There are certain ideologies within religions such as sharia law that run contrary to the Constitution. We shouldn’t prevent Muslims from immigrating, but we can prevent those who embrace sharia law because it opposes the Constitution. Every immigrant should know the Constitution, swear to defend it, and be willing to abide by all of our laws.
Lastly, there should be love for America. It’s easy to fake, impossible to test, and patriotically corny, but it’s also a necessity. Those who want to take advantage of what America has to offer need to also be willing to embrace the nation they’ve chosen as their new home. That doesn’t mean abandoning culture, but they have to be willing to embrace ours simultaneously. In other words, they need to be willing to assimilate rather than hoping to assimilate us.
If we dramatically reduce the number of immigrants and impose stricter criteria for them to enter, it’s more precious. It’s a privilege. It can be made into a responsibility. Today, the immigration system cheapens the importance of becoming an American. This has to change.
Reduce legal immigration. Improve vetting. Set standards by which immigrants are coming for opportunity, freedom, and to contribute. We cannot keep every potential criminal or terrorist from entering the country, but we can do our best to limit the potential. If we are going to continue as a thriving nation, this is absolutely essential.
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JD Rucker – EIC