I visited a Chinese restaurant with Alice and a friend of mine the other day. This is the restaurant that serves the stinky tofu, for fans of the original Sam’s Blog. I ordered it again, not with the intention of eating it myself, but of feeding it to Alice and seeing her reaction, which, unfortunately, turned out to be disappointing. What’s more the tofu made the whole table smell like horse manure and even when I wasn’t eating it threatened to ruin my meal. Nevertheless, I gritted my teeth and attempted to distract myself with the otherwise excellent food and conversation.
The conversation was, as it turned out, the most interesting part. My friend, an immigrant from China, told me that she was against the DREAM act because she thought that we should be trying to help the countries the people were fleeing be better places to live instead. Certainly that does seem like a better long-term solution than just having everyone in countries with problems move to the United States, but of course it doesn’t seem particularly applicable in the short term.
My friend mentioned that she, who had come to the United States legally, was not a citizen, while the undocumented immigrants covered in the dream act would become citizens. She mentioned how her work visa renewal got in late and due to this bureaucratic mix-up she cannot get a driver’s license for possibly as many as three months. We had to pick her up to take her to the restaurant.
She went on to describe how China actually has immigration restrictions within its borders. In order to leave the province of your birth, you have to have sponsorship from an employer, for instance. China does this because it is so crowded that population centers like Beijing could not possibly sustain the number of people that would go there if they had free reign to do so, she said.
This raises the question – if everyone who wanted to live in America could just go and live there, what kind of a nation would we have? Could the famous breadbasket of the world support perhaps, let’s conservatively estimate, two billion people? I am fully in favor of housing refugees when their own countries have troubles, but the notion that we should just invite everyone to come live in our country indefinitely may be dangerous. Then again, keeping them out seems selfish and cruel, and making all of those countries great places to live is a tall order. Not to mention, we still haven’t figured out how to help all the people that already are here! Once again the right thing to do is difficult to determine.