PITTSFIELD

This country doesn’t know a thing about immigration. The countries in Europe that have taken in millions of today’s starving war refugees do. That’s a refugee problem. We only take in people we want, like agricultural workers who will work for cheap, doing back-breaking harvesting of crops that Americans won’t do. Or domestic help to do the housework that is beneath a prosperous housewife.

Even some of our congressmen have been known to hire illegal immigrants for domestic work, paying them less than the going rate for American women. And how come they don’t get arrested for breaking the law? What a dumb question!

But it gets worse. We encourage bright university students to come over here and get their degrees in our best colleges, but as soon as they are finished, we send them back home, taking with them the knowledge they got here! This, in spite of the fact that the US desperately needs scientists and engineers. Apparently we have plenty of jobs available for young people trained in the IT world, but not enough high schoolers who are good enough to fill them. We send those foreign high schoolers back, too, without thinking to first upgrade our own educational courses to fill the gap.

The lack of adequate high school courses is not the whole problem. I had a friend who taught science and math in a hot-shot, expensive, part-day and part-boarding school in the Midwest. She was always delighted when she got a Chinese student. They worked their tails off while the American students often did no more than they had to to get by. Their American mothers would come to the office and complain because Mama thought the kid ought to have gotten a B+ instead of just a B. Of course the office, not wanting to lose the tuition, tried to talk the teacher into changing the grade! If a Chinese kid gets a B+ the parents go after the kid, not the teacher.

Any child, whether his parents are undocumented or not, who is born in the US is automatically a citizen. It says so, right in the 14th amendment to the Constitution. "Born in the US" includes living under its jurisdiction. Some right-wingers have tried to claim that if his or her parents aren’t citizens, the child is not "under the jurisdiction" of the US. For stupidity, that takes the cake. The child can’t run red lights or steal, just because his parents don’t have green cards?

There are women who give birth here so their kids will be citizens. I just read about a big house somewhere in the West that takes in women who are in the last stages of pregnancy and can get there just in time to deliver a child so the child can be a citizen. That has the tea partiers’ knickers in a twist because they have been outfoxed. But I’m told the number of such women can be counted in the dozens, which doesn’t exactly make it a national emergency. I would add that any woman who has the guts to do that for her child will probably raise a student my teacher friend would love to have in her math class.

But the cruelest and stupidest rule of all is that if the parents are undocumented, any child born here may stay here, but the parents can’t. So what do you do when the happy family walks out of the hospital with the baby? Grab the kid and ship him off to an orphanage and send the parents back to their native land? Oh yes, it does happen. Of course we don’t want drug dealers and assorted creeps cluttering up our nice country, but there are ways of keeping them out that don’t filter out a lot of people we want to stay.

Before we get too self-righteous about the quality of immigrants we want, it might pay to check out a little history. We certainly don’t want to admit the kind of people that we were in the 1600s, when we sailed over to occupy the continent. We white Europeans came in droves, grabbed the land, chopped up the locals and packed what was left into reservations! And 300 years later, there are still Indian reservations.

Dorothy van den Honert is an occasional Eagle contributor.