Tonight, as the president reports on the state of our nation, and the GOP's representative Senator Marco Rubio responds, you can bet you will hear a lot about one major subject, immigration. In doing so, each is likely to repeat the myth that we are a nation of immigrants. The truth is we are nation of pioneers. The country's mass illegal and legal immigration problem is a recent phenomenon of our own making.
Consider that from 1607 until 1958, a total of 42 million people came to this country. Since then, we have begun taking in approximately one million new legal immigrants and an additional 500,000 or more illegals per year. As of the end of 2011, there were more than 40 million foreign born people living in the U.S. That means that in the last 50 years, the country has taken in roughly the same number of people it did in its first 350.
When the first settlers came to this country they did so not knowing what they would find. They loaded up what possessions they could carry and their families then traveled west. The crossed thousands of miles of oceans, taking months to reach their destination. A journey that put them at odds with mother nature and costing nearly half their lives.
When they reached the shores of Plymouth they were not greeted by a government bureaucrat handing them packets of information designed to get them enrolled in the public welfare system. They were not provided free food, shelter, and healthcare. No, they had to make it on their own.
Over the next could hundred years many others would make similar journeys looking for freedom. They would seek the true American Dream, of being left to ones own devices to forge a future they were incapable of receiving in the old world. Towns and colonies began to spring up.
As land began to become scarce, new generations of American pioneers moved west into the wilderness. They crossed mountains, hostile tribes, weather, and famine. They did so without aid from the government or a safety net. They risked it all to make their own way.
Once these American pioneers reached the shore and filled in the mid-west many feared the pioneer spirit of Americans would wain as the opportunity to forge your own path diminished, but it did not. These pioneers became entrepreneurs. They put their fortunes and lives at risk to build businesses. Names like Ford, Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Stanley became known as the men who truly built America and they did so largely without government interference.
Today, it is a brave few who still embrace that pioneer spirit. Most immigrants come to this country with nothing to lose. They come from dirt poor third-world countries in which the standard of living is so low, it makes our minimum wages and welfare systems seem like the lap of luxury. Most in this new wave of immigrants do not bring with them a can do spirit, instead the bring with them poverty, disease, and values that stand in direct conflict to the American culture that has been built on the backs of pioneers for over 500 years.
What America needs is not "comprehensive immigration reform" as proposed by the establishment political class. It needs an immigration reform policy that punishes those who break our laws, ruthless employers and illegal immigrants alike. It needs an immigration policy that recruits the best and brightest, that attracts the world's pioneers and rejects its leaches.
The time for reform is now. Unfortunately, no one in Washington is talking about the right kinds of reform and it may already be too late to expel the dependent cancer eating away at this country's prosperity.