Whose country is it?

“Arizona, take off your rainbow shades.” — Mark Lindsey.

There’s no doubt as to the energy, the athleticism or, for that matter, the intellect of Barack Obama. Since taking office, he’s tackled Wall Street shenanigans, Motor City meltdown, health care reform and Great Depression era jobless numbers with Nixon-esque doggedness and a rookie’s zeal. Apart from the periodic bursts of greying hair (until the next cut), one would surmise that his presidential gig is going rather smoothly except for that Iraq/Afghanistan thing plus oil well blowouts on top.

The one topic he’s trying not to touch with a 10-foot pole is immigration. What to do about those Arizona legislators who had the gall to call the Feds on their own clearly defined area of responsibility? They passed a law that requires peace officers to check a detainee for proof of citizenship, to see if that person is actually even allowed to be in the country. The loonie left and all the human rights advocates think this is going too far. Gee, that uninsured drunk driver who speaks little English may be a foreign national in the States illegally but the taxpayers should send him through the expensive legal system for a few years because they sure could use immigrants to do all the dirty work. No wonder the locals are fed up with the Feds.

“Give us your huddled masses . . .” reads the Statue of Liberty. No one disputes the positive effect that newcomers with dreams of freedom and the promise of opportunity has had on the country. The thorny issue arises when millions of newcomers have no intention of integrating, resist learning English and are inordinately involved in serious crimes in Border States. For middle class Americans who provide free health care, education and social services to millions of foreigners, the obvious question is: whose country is it anyways?

If American citizens were to demand bilingual schooling, teaching of American history, exclusions from driving laws, immediate up-to-date medical treatment in English, the demand to wave the Stars and Stripes on Mexican school grounds and the right to come and go across the border, Felipe Calderon, the president of Mexico in case you missed it, would laugh out loud.

In countries like Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, foreigners can be routinely detained for months, deported, fined and treated very poorly but of course since they aren’t American, no one complains.

Mexican laws state that its people have the right to travel and work abroad if they follow applicable laws and requirements. Canadian law is also clear on this point. When you’re in a foreign country you’re expected to behave, carry ID and presumably be an ambassador.

America doesn’t really need immigrants. Sure they’re cheaper at picking fruit and cleaning hotel rooms but with the unemployment numbers up, taxes going crazy and years of pandering to other cultures, it seems that Arizonians, with their libertarian streak have become fed up enough to make Obama take some toxic medicine and own up to what had long been swept under the rug.

People can ask, “What’s wrong with America for not tolerating hard working people from Mexico who only want a better life but don’t have the proper papers?” I ask, “What’s wrong with Mexico that, with all its beauty, munificent natural wealth, excellent climate and an industrious people makes them want to leave?”

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