As the debate in Congress on illegal immigration heats up, Americans of all faiths are taking a stand on both sides of the issue. Beliefnet readers respond to an issue that has taken center stage since 9/11: protecting our borders. Find out how people from various spiritual persuasions differ on the question of immigration and hear some of their personal stories about their parents and grandparents crossing borders to become American. --The Editors

Tell a story of how your own family came to this country and how that may have affected your opinion. Join the discussion...

Same As It Ever Was?

Are first generation immigrants who left everything behind to come here for mere economic reasons in any way different than our own grandparents?

The term "illegal immigant" by itself is a betrayal of the vision of our founding fathers. The deprivation of basic services to immigrants is a betrayal of the teachings of our religion(s).

A good American and a good Christian considers all immigrants one of his own kind, they came for the same reasons we came. The one who doesn't consider them as that has come to be a British colonialist.


I read today of a group on Mexicans who died on thirst in the desert while attempting to enter the U.S. Illegally in search of work. It reminded me of how one branch of my family entered the Promised Land.

Fleeing starvation during the potato blight, they landed at New York. There were no restrictions on their entry. They were not paupers. They paid their fares on a Hudson River sloop and two canal boats to Sacketts Harbor, N.Y. They still could afford the luxury of putting the mother and baby on a stage coach to their destination at Watertown, N.Y. The father and other children walked the ten miles to save the money.

They were not entirely welcome. The No Nothing Party attempted to exclude their kind, There were signs, "Help wanted, No Irish need apply." But they and their descendants worked to make the U.S. the prosperous country it is today.

Most of us have similar stories of ancestors coming to America seeking a better life. Unfortunately, many of us oppose a chance for late arrivals even though they are needed to grow our economy.

President Bush, Candidate Kerry and corporate farming interests favor relaxing the present harsh immigration law. May compassion prevail!

-- gksaoh1

Not Your Grandparents' America

My mother was adopted, but on my father’s side, my great-grandparents emigrated from Sicily with little money and no prospects. But through hard work and sacrifice they were able to give their children a better standard of living and better life-opportunities.

But few comparisons can be made between those bygone days when the vast majority of immigrants legal or illegal were hard-working individuals that contributed so greatly to America.

Today we have a large percentage of illegal immigrants collecting checks from the U.S. government, a disproportionately large number of them wasting away their lives and taxpayers' money in prison, and those that DO find work must often succumb to sub-minimum wage jobs- great for the wallets of their employers, bad for their own families.

-- guitaraddict3

The Statue of Liberty states on a plaque "Give me your tired, your poor, your weak..etc." Very few people want absolutely NO border control. But at the same time I don't think that we should install a river of fire to "dissuade" immigrants. Illegal immigrants are people, who even if they are here illegally, deserve a certain amount of respect and have a need for some safety nets.

-- kali_maa713

The problem isn't the immigrants, they see an opportunity and they come over to take advantage of it. The problem is with the businesses who hire them and the government that looks the other way.


I have to admire so many of the immigrants that pretty much leave everything and make a life for themselves over here. Not all of them are semi-literate Mexicans and Central Americans.

I hired a woman a few years ago who was illegal, could speak English (albeit with a strong accent) had a university degree and very nice manners. Her family had two homes one in the city and one in the coast. Her family took nice trips to Disneyland and sent her for semesters abroad in London and Chicago.

She is Colombian and things got so bad there that she and her new husband decided to leave Columbia and make a new life for themselves in the US. Both illegal, both working illegal jobs. It is hard to imagine ourselves in such a situation.

A lot of the Vietnamese people I know came over here with nothing and no English and their children and top professionals. You have to admire that.

-- Erey

Life On The Borderline

I live in a border state and the people most treaded upon by illegal immigration are - unequivocally - the lower class legal citizens of our country. That is, if you don't factor in the terrorists (who would have to be the dumbest people in the world not to use the gaping wide open border). I do not resent the immigrants; I know I would be doing the exact same thing if I were they. It is our leaders who have sold us out here. For some it is about protecting their image from "racist" accusations. For others, it is about paybacks to business owners who want the steady supply of cheap labor (with no benefits, etc.).

-- Rosewitha

When my son was in third grade, a girl came in from Ecuador in January. The only word she spoke in English was Ice Cream. By the end of the year, you'd never know she wasn't born here. But it is hard on the other kids to integrate them in.

It's not right to penalize the children because their parents are not legal.

-- stitch813

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