What is the prerequisite for being an American? Must one be born in America? Must one have American parents? If so, then who was the first American? It makes no logical sense to think in terms of who deserves to be where, when the only thing that separates us is history. Immigration is not the worst thing in the world, but you’d think it is if you spoke to a conservative. The argument I most hear against immigration is a history of us versus them. So who deserves to be where?
We look to history as if it’s more important than the present, as if history matters more than the world in which we live now, as if history matters at all. History is a series of past events with which we try to define our present, but we don’t realize that our present becomes our past. American citizens deserve to be American citizens because they have American ancestors, but those ancestors didn’t have any American ancestors.
If your history is based on immigration, it makes no logical sense to claim immigrants don’t deserve to be somewhere, just because their immigration story occurs later in history. It is quite common that people conflate ancient and good. Someone may suggest an old religion is more valid because it is older and that it has an old tradition that matters more because it is, indeed, old. But old does not mean good; in fact, it is more likely the opposite is true. Why is it more valid for one's ancestors to have immigrated to America than it is for people alive today to do so? For an American to oppose immigration, they must also oppose themselves.
What I don’t understand is, why do we think in terms of us and them, when there is only us? We are unified as humans; all species on Earth are unified as life. I wrote in my blog post “Freedom vs. Feelings” that “We are too obsessed with borders: ‘This is ours. That is theirs. Everyone should stay where they belong.’ Where they belong? We are all people! What the fuck does it matter to what invisible deity we pray or within what imagined borders we came to be!?”
We are all human beings, no matter where you were born or what the circumstances of your life are. And yet we’ve created a world of invisible borders. These borders do not just apply to the greater bodies of nations, but to every individual person, who by chance happened to be born in one country rather than another. Based on this, we get a feeling of us versus them, and we must of course win. We rationalize that people from other nations don’t belong with us and might even be of less value to the country; the greater the discernable differences are, the wider the rift becomes. This includes everything from how we talk to how we look to how we pray, if we pray.
This is a primal and selfish instinct; we don’t want to share what we have. It is an instinct of dread; we fear that which is unknown and different. This is just a kneejerk reaction with only ourselves in mind. The only reason why it is feasible with this kind of thinking, that immigrants don’t deserve to stay in our nation, is because we have stripped them of humanity; if we don’t see them as human beings, we don’t have to care.
In a perfect world, there would be no nations; we’d be one united and strong species that lives by the principles of peace rather than war, love rather than hate, tolerance rather than intolerance, respect rather than disrespect, and intelligence rather than ignorance. While it is not feasible in the world we’ve created, at least not yet, I’d say either all humans belong everywhere, or no human belongs anywhere.