Some of the thousands of people coming to America each year deserve a proper welcome, but all of them deserve a rightful designation.
Diplomats, tourists and immigrants must present the required documentation upon reaching our borders. That documentation includes a passport issued by their country of origin that allows the holder to travel as a citizen of that country, and a visa issued by the United States, either through its representative consulate at the country of origin or by its officers at the port of entry. That visa allows the holder entry to and travel within the United States. Even people arriving as processed immigrants, for authorized employment or permanent residence, must have those documents.
People crossing the border without those documents are defined differently. Those fleeing dangerous situations in their native lands are deemed “refugees” — people seeking refuge from harm. Forced to leave because of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, or life-threatening political persecution — as with the tide of Cuban nationals in the last century — makes them refugees. Many of these refugees may and often do petition the government for recognition of their plight. They may be allowed permanent residence under political refugee status.
Another class of border crossers, also undocumented, arrives overtly as invaders or clandestinely to do harm to the United States. These people are labeled “terrorists.” They are never called immigrants.
However, the overwhelming percentage of the undocumented can only be defined as “interlopers” — uninvited people with no legal or rightful presence.
For the most part, the interlopers are erroneously referred to as “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants,” but they are neither because they are not immigrants. Immigrants arrive under established policy and procedure in accordance with the laws of the land. Until there is a fair procedure to bring millions of people here without documentation into an accountable status, they remain just that, interlopers.
There are reasons and enticements driving the influx of interlopers to our borders. Most are dedicated workers. They work at various trades that, for the most part, pay a good deal more than what they could earn in their native lands. Many send a good portion of their earnings home to support family in their native lands while retaining enough for their own subsistence here in America. All that economic activity, however, does not change their designation as interlopers.
Children of interlopers, though born on this soil and innocent of transgression, should not be regarded as American citizens. That is not the intent nor the letter of the 14th Amendment.
Interlopers should not be rewarded with that most treasured part of existence in this country. Citizenship is a birthright of those born here of parents who are citizens themselves or of parents who have been granted permission to be here. Conferring citizenship upon those born of parents who are interlopers is in no way different from granting a trespasser on your property the right to make decisions about your property that are solely yours. Neither does his or her merely being there give him the prerogative of taking what he or she wishes. As well, no rights can be conferred upon the trespasser’s children who may be born on your property.
The rights that come with citizenship are immeasurably important and always have been. No one in our history has ever been granted the right to take property to which they were not entitled. Citizenship deserves that same utmost protection.
Bob Rugg, past chairman of the Cherokee County Republican Party and past president and board member of the Cherokee chapter Sons of the American Revolution, lives in Canton.