A bald eagle soars over the trees to the north as I walk to the barn to feed the horses on this cold and crispy white morning. Liberty! Can it get much better than that? It is one of those moments when you stop to soak it all in, when your heart fills with gratitude for the gifts of life and creation. America the beautiful. Exceptional and free.
I grew up in another nation, where similar images are imprinted upon my soul, and I am grateful for my heritage — a heritage that taught me to be strong and independent. Days of skiing to school (yes, we actually did!), viewing the sparkling images of mountains nestled in majesty next to the vast ocean where my grandpa and I fished, will forever be a part of me. Listening to my family’s stories of war and being a part of the underground, I grew up grateful for freedom and was told to always protect it and never to abuse it.
Through the providential journey of life, I am now an American citizen, having sworn an oath to the flag of the Untied States of America. I am as American as apple pie. It was a deeply spiritual and serious moment to raise my right hand and take that oath. An oath is no small thing to make. It was also a promise of “your people are my people” and all that such a commitment entails. I went through all the procedures it takes to legally complete the process of citizenship, and it is a detailed process for sure, but I truly appreciated every part of it. How often in a lifetime, if ever, do you swear an oath? The oaths one takes for marriage, to serve in the armed forces, or public office are the only other ones that come to mind. It is serious business, and the accountability is real and legally binding. So, I must say that it somewhat baffles me that the issue of illegal immigration is so complicated in the political arena these days. Or is it?
The DREAM Act (officially, the so-called Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) was defeated in the Senate, an early Christmas gift for which I am grateful. It would have allowed what is popularly called “amnesty” for millions of young illegal immigrants and, thereby, opened the flood gates for millions and millions more illegal immigrants. It would never have solved the current problems at the border, but rather escalated them. The DREAM Act was never debated, nor did it ever receive the scrutiny of committee hearings with expert testimony the way such important legislation normally does. As a matter of fact, it was a purely political ploy to use people’s lives and the laws of our land to make conservatives look hard-hearted and bigoted against immigrants — especially toward the Hispanic population. All it accomplished was more rhetoric on both sides of the aisle. The dire consequences of an unsecured border were once again left to the vultures, with no principled leadership to pick up the mantel and apply the law of the land.
To some degree, the liberal agenda may have won a small public relations victory. We sailed into the Christmas season with images of “evil conservative nay voters” ruining Christmas for illegal immigrant children, as they all will be hauled off to unknown horrors — which, of course, is far from the truth! Nothing at all will change now or in the near future for any of these children. Many of these children have actually become adults, since nothing has been done about illegal immigration for decades. Meanwhile, the war on our southern border rages on without a strategy or the will to win from the majority of leadership in Washington, D.C. This is tragic.
It is worthy of note that the Hispanic population has become a significant voting block. I spent considerable time in Central America during the 1980’s doing relief and missions work. I have wonderful memories of great cultures and a generous people. I do NOT see the immigration issue as an issue of specific race or country, but rather an issue of a nation’s sovereignty and right to protect its laws and security. I am deeply saddened by anyone who uses the immigration debate to promote any racial or political agenda. It happens on both sides of the aisle, and it is not the approach that serves this country and its ideals!
Securing the border should be the first priority on the immigration agenda. Period. Secure the border, and enforce the law. That is why Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona received such overwhelming national support when she sent an unmistakable message to President Obama and his administration by signing the famous Arizona law, S. 1070. The simple fact here is that if you do not secure the border first, how on earth can you fix the problems within the border that the lack of border security causes? That is like building the best horse corral money can buy, but refusing to install a gate. The DREAM Act proposes such an approach. Dumb. Just plain dumb. It is a spectacle of political theater — nothing more, nothing less.
I sincerely hope the new Congress will deal with this serious issue in a principled and constitutional way in 2011. But even if they do, I fear that we have a president who will not go along with anything but political posturing and fear mongering. We may have to wait until we have a commander-in-chief in the White House in January 2013 who honors the law, secures our borders, and then tackles the issues within the borders.
It will not be easy. It will require a steel spine and principled leadership at home and abroad. It will require someone who believes in self-government and the right to protect your land. It will take someone who can command the authority to tell our neighbors to clean up their own problems instead of exporting them to the U.S. And it will take someone who does not play political theater and will not back down to idle accusations of racism and extremism.
I was honored to go through the process of legal immigration. (Please let’s not confuse “legal” with “illegal” anymore!) How on earth can you honor your citizenship if you do not apply the law of the land, the very values of the founding of the country to which you migrate? How can you believe and fight for “America the Beautiful” if you cannot even honor the basic law of legal entry? It is a sad sign of the lack of respect for principles and the gift of liberty. If I had acted like that, I fear my dad would have come back to Earth and given me a serious reprimand, if not a woodshed whopping!
I think I am going to take another walk outside, and hopefully, the bald eagle will return to remind me of the gift of liberty I have been given and the privilege of being part of this exceptional nation. That is no DREAM; it is reality!
Janne Myrdal serves as State Director for Concerned Women for America (CWA) of North Dakota. To get involved in CWA of North Dakota, click here. To get involved in one of our other fine state organizations, please visit our CWA in the States page.