American Exceptionalism

Immigrants---Generic-jpgToday, presidential candidate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and voiced his support for building walls along the United States’s borders with Mexico AND Canada to keep immigrants from coming across the borders illegally. (Read about it here.) He and most of the other Republican presidential candidates have taken an ugly hardline approach to immigration that really bothers me.

I wrote last week that the definition of America is a that our country is a place that welcomes everyone from around the world. Immigration is why America was started in the first place. The way to solve the problem of illegal immigration is to increase the supply of visas so that people have the opportunity to immigrate legally. That’s the right thing to do, and it’s the American way.

I hear a lot of people who advocate for greater restrictions on immigration talk about what they term “American Exceptionalism.” I wonder if they know what that means. They don’t seem to know what makes our country exceptional. Our country was founded around the ideas of freedom, opportunity, and self-governance, rather than around ethnicity, or culture, or ruling families, that dominates much of the rest of the world. Freely welcoming everyone, wherever you are from, is what we are about. It’s what makes America exceptional. Sadly, we’ve moved away from that.

Immigration reform that opens up the process to allow more immigration is what will fix the problem of illegal immigration, and it will help to bring America back to what made it great in the first place.