01 May 2006

Listening to Immigrants

Immigration. My own family dealt with this generations ago, but my interest in the musics and foods and cultures of the world keeps this a front-burner issue for me. That, and the recognition that the USA is a nation of immigrants, built by immigrants (with recognition of and apologies to descendants of the pre-Euro-immigrant native population).

I'm a great respecter of the rule of law, but I find it funny how everyone cries "but it's illegal" as a knee-jerk response to any proposal to revise immigration policy. Things are illegal because we say they are. These are human decisions, not laws of nature. If I'd been born a generation or two earlier, my interracial marriage might have been illegal. Some generations earlier, slavery was legal. Laws change, often for good reason. I'm glad that we're at least talking about immigration law. Reforming it seems a logical alternative to either deporting or continuing to ignore the millions of "illegals" among us.

At this time of perpetual warfare, some politicians try to frame the debate primarily in terms of security. But without the contributions of immigrant scientists, we might never have won WWII and become the world's sole superpower. Immigration does bring risk, but also new knowledge and perspectives and resources.

SoundRoots favors a thoughtful and liberal immigration policy paired with a concerted effort to promote stable, prosperous nations around the world. Immigration should be a choice, not an act of desperation. Build bridges, not walls.

Without immigrants, we damn sure wouldn't have the great music we have today. A recent email by Ken Braun of Stern's Music makes this point indelibly (you can read it at the RootsWorld blog). Finally, making a musical argument for immigration, we have Detroit-based group Immigrant Suns.

[mp3] Immigrant Suns: "Last Tango in Dearborn"
from the album Montenegro

By the way, the Library of Congress has an amazing and educational immigration website.
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