In a time of unusual historical shift, perhaps we should rethink the meaning of the word "immigrant." Generical ly, it means a person who mi grates to a country for permanent residence. So literally and collectively, we are a country of immigrants.
And look what happened because of it. Our national diversity has given us a country unique in the history of the world. But to early native Americans, we could have been considered illegal immigrants, because although they believed the land belonged to The Great Spirit, they marked out their tribal territories that were sacred to them, and they looked upon most of us as alien invaders, conquerors and scammers.
In the early years, many people came to this country to flee persecution, religious or otherwise. Many fled from utter poverty, starvation or deliberate attempts on their lives through mass annihilation. Most were able to come legally while others fell onto our shores any possible way they could.
For the safety and good of all we need strong immigration laws to be respected. But the reasons people flee to our shores in desperation should also be respected -- especially if we are to ever retain our own self respect as a nation.