Borders and Citizenship — By John Reed

Borders and Citizenship
The debate about immigration has been going on ever since the country was founded. At its most basic it comes down to how we define ourselves as a nation and as a people. I guess that argument first started after the tower of Babel fell, but some very fundamental questions need to be answered.
Should nations have borders? From orbit, no boundaries are visible, but down here culture, language, even moral systems divide us. Does national character mean more than cross-border simularities? Often arbitrary borders set by politicians cause more harm than good. Certainly much of the problems in the Middle East today can be traced to how the colonial European powers divided things up after World War 1.
Even if borders accurately define the people living in a particular country, what steps should be taken to enforce those borders? In Europe, many countries allow free passage from country to another the same way we travel from one state to another here. When neighbors are less civil, walls or other barricades keep enemies at bay. It’s an easy call when your neighbors are obviously friendly [Switzerland/Italy] or obviously not [Israel/Palestine].
When the lines or differences are more blurred is when there’s more disagreement. We’ve had 500 years of Spanish language, culture, and religion impact our southwestern border; there’s not a lot of difference between the folks from Mexico and Central America and millions of Americans of Latin heritage. Should we just consider that area our 51st state?
A related question is that of citizenship. Since the Greeks and Romans started conferring special privileges to certain of their population, the idea of being a citizen was linked to one particular nation. Originally limited to freeborn males, the end of slavery has eliminated that distinction. Within the last 150 years, women have gained full rights across much of the globe as well. There are still some pockets of repression, but fewer every year.
Even as the qualifications for citizenship have expanded, the arguments about what non-citizens should be able to have and do have grown more shrill. The problem is, many non-citizens are contributing far more to the national interest than some native-born. Both sides in the current debate have made it personal instead of rational. The Left claimed to favor border security until Trump was elected. Now, they would deny the sun set in the west if Trump said it did.
Until cooler heads prevail, looks like it’s going to be the usual three-ring circus…sort of like our city council meetings.

Leave a Comment