Whose Feet: Thoughts on Immigration

I see in my email inbox an angry anti-immigration message entitled “Whose country is it, anyway?” The implication is that US citizens, especially European-Americans, were “here first,” so newcomers are not welcome. My heart sinks. In my opinion, a government’s responsibility to manage immigration wisely should never overshadow our shared human responsibility to treat all people with respect. But more to the point, whatever view one takes on immigration, surely the argument that “we were here first” is not logical in a country composed mostly of immigrants. The only people who were truly “here first” are the Native Americans. I imagine that many of the early European immigrants arrived on this continent ‘undocumented.’ Their descendents can be thankful that they weren’t deported. This is a very simple thought, and I’m not the first person to think it. Yet how often does this reality influence the public debate about immigration?