My ancestors were brought to this country in chains against their will, and sold and forced to work like common farm animals. They had to abide by the laws to stay alive.
My ancestors endured abuse and unlawful deaths for 250 years before the civilized hearts of this nation recognized that “all men are created equal,” regardless of race or color. We went from slaves to free men and women, but without the freedom of equal rights, equal access to opportunity and equal protection under our nation’s laws. That struggle took another 100 years, culminating with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Throughout my ancestors’ 350-year struggle the objective was always “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” When that liberty and justice finally became legally recognized as our civil rights, some of us ran through the doors of opportunity, some walked, and some chose to stay on the outside to criticize and complain. Still, our nation’s history has always been defined by one set of laws, one language and one flag of unity. This is what defines the United States of America!
Therein lies your biggest problem. The public perception is that you want a different set of laws, and you want to ignore current laws. You even want an accommodation of your language in our national anthem, and some of your people are flaunting flags other than the flag of the USA.
As a reminder, USA stands for United States of America. It does not stand for “Under Special Assumptions.”
There is no doubt that the USA is a nation of immigrants – legal immigrants. No one faults you for desiring the opportunity for a better life in the greatest country in the world. Although we do not consider your demonstrations a civil rights movement, there are some lessons you could learn from our 350-year struggle that may help you in your quest to come out of our nation’s shadows.
First, your illegal status is a non-starter for obtaining rights, benefits or a short cut to citizenship. It is creating massive public resentment and alienating those with compassionate hearts who might want to support a reasonable and fair road to your citizenship. You will not earn U.S. citizenship as long as you choose to ignore our laws, simply because you have been able to survive here illegally for a number of years.
Granted, our immigration system is cumbersome, inefficient and needs major overhaul, but it is a part of our system of laws. Maybe one of your objectives should be to encourage Congress to overhaul the system, making the process more efficient for every immigrant, which would make it easier and more efficient for you.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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