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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

We're All Immigrants!

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Though there are several quotes associated with the Statue of Liberty, the most popular one is the above, from the sonnet written by the poet Emma Lazarus. A nation can never progress successfully without acknowledging its history. So, the Americans should delve into history and use lessons from the past to create the future. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty will always remind the nation of its past. This nation was founded by immigrants, all undocumented immigrants, who entered this land declaring they discovered the continent, even though it was already inhabited by the native Indians. Millions more came after them to discover this wonderful land, ships load of them from across the oceans, to join their earlier generations to taste the fruits of this discovered land. They all were welcomed to make it their home where they had the freedom to dream and to fulfill that dream, the American Dream. That is what this nation is all about – the Melting Pot for the varied worldwide cultures, assembled in this beautiful country from all over the globe, with one and only one goal, to make their lives richer than ever before, and thereby make it the richest country in the world.

The flow of illegal immigration continues to be almost entirely from countries of lower socioeconomic levels, and particularly from developing countries. While there are other causes associated with poorer countries, the most common motivation for illegal immigrants, as always, is the pursuit of greater economic opportunities and quality of life in America. They look only at the probability of success in immigrating and finding employment, and the increase in real income an immigrant can expect. Some illegal immigrants seek to live with loved ones, such as a spouse or other family members, who had immigrated earlier. Illegal immigration may also be prompted by the desire to escape civil war or repression in the country of origin. Non-economic push factors include persecution (religious and otherwise), frequent abuse, bullying, oppression, and genocide, and risks to civilians during war. Political motives traditionally motivate refugee flows - to escape dictatorship for instance. There are numerous cases of mass emigration from poor or war-stricken states. Some illegal immigrants entered the U.S. legally and then overstay or violate their visa to make it big here, as their brothren before. The bottom line is, all immigrants in America, legal or illegal, are here to add to the richness of this great nation, and not to harm it in any way.

The fact that illegal immigrants pay taxes at all will come as news to many Americans. A stunning two-thirds of illegal immigrants pay Medicare, Social Security and personal income taxes. According to a study by the Urban Institute, the 1996 welfare reform effort dramatically reduced the use of welfare by undocumented immigrant households, exactly as intended. And another vital thing happened in 1996: the Internal Revenue Service began issuing identification numbers to enable illegal immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers to file taxes. What's more, aliens, who are not self-employed, have Social Security and Medicare taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks. Last year, the revenues from them added up to 10 percent of the Social Security surplus. The file is growing, on average, by more than $50 billion a year. Beyond federal taxes, all illegals automatically pay state sales taxes that contribute toward the upkeep of public facilities such as roads that they use, and property taxes through their rent that contribute toward the schooling of their children. The non-partisan National Research Council found that they contribute on average $80,000 more to federal coffers than they consume. With anti-immigrant resentment running hot, many accuse immigrants of stealing American jobs. How can immigrants steal jobs nobody else wants? It is hard to imagine the native-born work force itching to return en masse to housekeeping, landscaping, car washing, meatpacking, poultry plucking and street-corner day labor.

Immigration is a bitterly fought issue in the United States today, where some 10.8 million illegal immigrants live and work. Arizona lawmakers passed the toughest anti-illegal-immigrant measure in a generation, a controversial immigration bill requiring police in the state that borders Mexico to determine if people are in the United States illegally, a measure critics say is open to racial profiling. The law requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people who are unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally. It also makes it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant and to hire day laborers off the street. Passions about illegal immigration run high in Arizona, both proponents and opponents of the law are vociferous. "This criminalizes undocumented status and turns dishwashers, janitors, landscapers and our neighbors into criminals," say the opponents of the bill, prominent provisions of which have been blocked by a federal judge for now.

As the nation's attention turns back to the fractured debate over immigration, it might be helpful to remember that in 1986, Ronald Reagan signed a sweeping immigration reform bill into law. The bill made any immigrant who'd entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty. The law granted amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants. "I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally," President Ronald Reagan said in 1984. Nearly 25 years later, the Republican Party has changed its tune. The Republicans now seem to know better than to tread the path their own Republican President thought the right thing to do, even though they often invoke the former president as a champion of the conservative agenda. President Obama's call for bipartisanship on the immigration issue was answered by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. A bipartisan effort would be possible, he said, if Obama "would take amnesty off the table and make a real commitment to border and interior security." Do the Republicans need to be reminded It was in Ronald Reagan's bones — it was part of his understanding of America — that the country was fundamentally open to those who wanted to join us here, and we have to remember our roots – we're all immigrants!


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10:59 PM  
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