OPINION: America’s immigration debate is not really about race, but sovereignty

By Nick De Gregorio
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On Sunday, America woke to a tweet from President Trump that tied the immigration debate to the ethnic backgrounds of certain members of Congress who have vocally opposed his administration’s policies.

“Why don’t they go back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came?” asked the President.

I served nine years in the Marine Corps after 9/11 and did my time in Iraq and Afghanistan. I detest the revisionist “America is not that great” narrative that Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, et al continue to peddle. I find the Left’s warm embrace of this counterfactual to be abhorrent and dangerous.

But I worry that the president’s tweet did more to play into the hands of that “progressive” narrative than it did to bolster the alternative point of view. Say what you will about the nature of the president’s tweet. Maybe you think it was racist. Maybe you think it wasn’t. Regardless, no one can deny that it ceded another day of media exposure to the radical fringes and took us that much further away from having a rational conversation about immigration and national security.

For many of us, the immigration debate is not about race, but sovereignty. Contrary to the opinions of the aforementioned members of Congress, it is possible to oppose illegal immigration and not be a bigot. I am the product of grandparents who came to America from Italy after World War II. I often wonder how my family’s chronicles would have suffered if we never had the opportunity to be American. And I wonder about future immigrants who might one day instill such a love for their adopted country in their grandchild that he or she might choose to go to war to defend it.

As I see it, immigrants—regardless of their origin—make America great.

I also wonder why I am made to feel inhuman when I vocalize the reality that American citizenship is not a human right.

American citizenship is the foundation upon which our system of law and order is built. It bestows rights only on those individuals who seek and keep it lawfully. And it is the reason we have a functioning society that people aspire to join.

Exclusion, as it pertains to immigration policy, is not inherently racist, but rather, inherently necessary. It is predicated on a very real need to ensure that scarce, finite taxpayer resources are allocated to prevent a society from failing under the weight of its own citizenry. This is why we require those seeking citizenship or asylum to apply for it through the proper channels. This is why applicants sometimes get rejected. This is why attempts at illegal immigration should not be lauded by the likes of Cory Booker and other presidential hopefuls, who should know better than to promote an illicit avenue that places tremendous stress upon an already-bursting immigration system.

Some of our politicians have weaponized emotion in their attempt to monopolize the immigration narrative. Logic is the proportional response. Call me old-fashioned, but I still think sovereignty is worth fighting for.

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Nick De Gregorio served nine years as a Marine Corps infantry officer and is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a recent graduate of Georgetown University’s MBA and International Relations programs. Nick lives with his wife Emily and their newborn daughter Siena in Fair Lawn. Follow him on Twitter @NickDeGreg_NJ