Verna Babula on local control over immigration
During the Communications from Citizens segment of the 20-OCT-2015 City Council meeting, Candidate Verna Babula got up to speak about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and her perceived need for local control over which of those immigrants are allowed to come to Sterling Heights. Here is the two and a half minute video of what she had to say:
In her speech, Verna Babula touches upon an issue that has great currency in Sterling Heights, which is a sizable town in the process of absorbing a large number of immigrants from a different culture. Mrs. Babula is seeking to arouse the passions of those who feel annoyed by the influx of immigrants. This is nothing other than an attempt to appeal to one of the darkest parts of human nature: fear of the unknown.
Without a doubt, in any given area where large groups of immigrants coalesce, there are problems brought about by the difference in culture, the need for services, and the language barrier. As has been proven time and again, these problems are temporary. As time goes on, the immigrants assimilate into the surrounding community. But it does not happen quickly or easily. Sterling Heights has been experiencing a case of this as large numbers of refugees from Iraq, the Chaldeans, have settled here in significant numbers over the past decade.
Often, as was the case with the Italian immigration of the early 20th Century, it takes a couple of generations before the group of former immigrants becomes largely indistinguishable from the surrounding population aside from minor cultural differences. In the meantime, there is usually tension between the group of immigrants and the people who were present before they came, and a certain provincial attitude on the part of the long-timers frequently arises. People have for time immemorial worried about immigration and what effect it would have on our society. They worry about the different religions, the different customs, and the difficulty in communicating. They find these things frustrating. I’m not immune to these frustrations. Few people are. Yet, somehow, it has always worked out. The American Melting Pot is real, and it is open to all comers. History proves that our society always becomes stronger for it. An educated people works through these frustrations and remembers this.
Verna Babula’s proposed solution to this problem? A board under local control which would vet the immigrants and decide who does (and who does not) get to come to Sterling Heights.
Put quite bluntly, this “solution” is as un-American as they get.
As I have stated in another post, one of the things about living in an urban setting is that you don’t get to choose who your neighbors are going to be. This is for a good reason: it invites discrimination. It also elevates the people doing the choosing to a status above the rest of the mere residents and proposed residents as the deciders of who gets to come here. This dismisses and rejects the whole of American history and the reasons for our nation’s rise to prominence.
America is a nation of immigrants which prides itself on the notion of “Liberty and Justice For All.” One of the key strengths we have historically possessed as a nation is the freedom of immigrants to settle where they please and to make the best of their new surroundings. This in no small part has lead to the famous “American ingenuity” which enabled our society to prevail over the great evils represented by the Axis powers of World War II. The freedoms accorded to even the newest among us have made our society the economic powerhouse that remains the envy of the world. Although diversity simply for diversity’s sake is not an unalloyed good, it has been demonstrated that it is far more beneficial to our society than it is detrimental. American Exceptionalism derives directly from the even-handed treatment our immigrants, and really all of our compatriots, have always enjoyed.
My question: If people like Verna Babula were in control at the time our ancestors came here, would they have made the cut?
Personally, my very existence owes to the fact that a 9-year old Dutch girl crossed the Atlantic in 1911, passed through Ellis Island, and then settled in the Detroit area, later becoming my maternal grandmother.
I wonder if Mrs. Babula would have approved of my grandmother? And I wonder how many other people like me in the future might not get the same opportunities I did because Mrs. Babula, and her Tea Party brethren, decided they weren’t OK?
Mrs. Babula’s call for local control over immigration is dangerous. I highly doubt it would be limited to just these Syrian refugees. Such a group, if given the ability to decide who will or will not be allowed to move into Sterling Heights in matters of immigration, would be likely to try to seize control over which non-immigrant groups get to move into Sterling Heights. With the legal precedent set that we can control who immigrates here, what would stop whoever is in this group from enacting limits forbidding any other group to move here?
What would stop this group from deciding that the only people who can come here are people just like them?
Verna Babula wants to expand the power of government enormously. She wants to take control over the direction of the lives of thousands of people. And she, of all people, who are (ridiculously, in my opinion) concerned about state-sponsored surveillance via Smart Meters, ought to know that the solution to a problem is not more government.
Her plans must not come to pass.