We are not a “nation of immigrants.”

An interesting column by John Hayward, Staff Writer for Daily Events, A Human Events Publication.

John Hayward, Staff Writer


“We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants,” said President Obama in his El Paso speech on immigration Tuesday.  This is the most tedious talking point dragged out by the amnesty crowd.

We are not a “nation of immigrants.”

The current population of the United States is 307 million people.  Of that number, about 40 million are legal immigrants, and perhaps 12 million are illegal aliens.  That makes about 13% of our population naturalized citizens.  Include the illegals and you have 16%.  These percentages are not all that much different from other industrialized nations.

Is that taking the “nation of immigrants” canard too literally?  Is it really supposed to mean that most of us are only a generation or two removed from immigrants?  That sounds like another dose of the weary leftist philosophy that holds people accountable for the deeds of their ancestors.  It’s reminiscent of the way our more excitable academics insist that we’re all descended from slave owners, or slaves.  Why should we “define ourselves” based on where our grandparents were born?

Should we reflect on how America was founded by immigrants, over two centuries ago?  But that’s not true.  Most of our Founders were born on American soil.  Only nine of the delegates to the first Constitutional Convention were immigrants.  The people who came before them were colonists, not immigrants.

We are unquestionably a nation that has welcomed many immigrants.  The American spirit burns bright when a new citizen recites the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time.  Those who drag out the “nation of immigrants” chestnut are not seeking to congratulate Americans for their hospitality.  On the contrary, they want us to see ourselves as a vast flock of migratory birds that just happened to settle on this lovely piece of ground, and have no right to set conditions for anyone who wishes to roost in the same spot.

America is a nation with immigrants.  We add a million of them every year.  We are proud of them, and they are proud to be Americans.  There is a difference between immigrants and aliens.  It’s possible for an alien to become an immigrant.  The process is currently more difficult than it should be.  It will never be automatic.  That’s why we have a border.

— John Hayward