Very well said.
WSJ. 8/22/2020 by Tunku Varadarajan
I watched all four nights of the Democratic National Convention. Huddled in front of my TV set, I was, by the end, yearning to breathe free. As an immigrant to the U.S., I found the Democrats’ obsession with immigrants grating. I’d like to tell Americans why.
Scarcely a speech or segment went by in which a fetish wasn’t made of immigrants. They were portrayed, almost uniformly, as victims—hapless people thwarted by “systemic racism” and American injustice, moored forever in a netherworld of murk and fear by President Trump’s refusal to be humane.
The Democrats are guilty of conflating the people who live in this country without authorization with those—a significant majority of immigrants—who are here legally. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of America’s foreign-born immigrants are lawful permanent residents (like me) or naturalized citizens of the U.S.
With their relentless focus on the undocumented margins, the Democrats do an enormous disservice to the 35.2 million lawful immigrants who go about their dignified business away from the spotlight, getting on with such concerns as work, school and family, grateful for the opportunity to be in America—grateful, in fact, for the opportunity to be Americans.
Many immigrants have come to America from countries where the state interferes in people’s lives while pretending to help. What many of them really want—Democrats, please note—is for the state to step aside and let them carve out their own destinies. Which is why they came to America in the first place. Whether the left likes it or not, this is the primordial truth to which almost every immigrant subscribes.
No one suggests that the plight of the undocumented people in this country should be ignored. Yet the Democratic obsession with indigent illegal residents plays into the hands of racists and nativists, who, ironically, share the progressive caricature of immigrants as a brooding throng of people in perpetual limbo. (Nativists regard the foreign-born as inherently unassimilable, while progressives, for their own reasons, scoff at the very notion of “assimilation.”)
The Democrats’ compulsion to create ever more categories of victimized minorities by adding “immigrants” to the list of the maltreated serves neither immigrants nor the country. You can see the short-term advantage to the Democrats of an ever-expanding pool of voters from abroad. But I—and millions like me—did not regard the U.S. as a country where you can never acquire a mainstream identity, and where political forces tell you that the surest way to become accepted is to nurse your grievances forever. Every immigrant reaches a point where he feels—or wants to feel—that he’s overcome obstacles and has earned his pride (without having it handed to him in the guise of victimhood).
Perpetuating the category of “immigrant” involves the making permanent of an identity that is by definition temporary. It’s a condition in a bureaucratic process that every immigrant seeks to transform into a state of full belonging. The Democrats would like many of us to embrace a transitory state as an aspiration in itself. “E pluribus unum”—one out of many—is less attractive to them than a creed of “Many out of one.”
Mr. Varadarajan is executive editor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.