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Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Laundresses

By: Bill Shankle

Who, and how many, has been an immigration headache for America since Columbus and his band of illegal Hispanics washed ashore in the Caribbean. They were quickly followed by the French, English and Dutch - none too concerned with work permits or visas. Admission standards were less stringent then. Any convict, drunkard, idiot or welfare recipient was encouraged to relocate to the New World, mainly by their native lands, who saw no reason to pay for the upkeep of such lowlifes when there was a convenient dumping ground across the ocean.

To the settlers in this lonely land of back-breaking toil, any new (white, Christian) face was welcomed, even those who had yet to master the proper use of a salad fork. Only the Puritans - the original moral majority - were upset by the newcomers. They felt America was like Heaven - reserved exclusively for themselves. But by and large, fresh arrivals were warmly received.

As the country grew, and the immigrants disembarked from more diverse origins, they were less grandly welcomed. Each new horde of Old World boat people were eyed with wariness. Foreigners.

By the mid eighteenth century the secret was out - America was a decent place to make a buck. Being an English colony, English settlers were accepted, German and Dutch tolerated, and everyone else was trash. Each successive group - Irish, Greek, Italian, Eastern European - was scorned and despised until they paddled into America's mainstream, where they anxiously awaited the next herd of immigrants to scorn and despise.

The next batch is here, or on the way. Desperate foragers from the Caribbean, Asia and Central America risking, and sometimes losing, everything for a shot at humankind's most precious commodity - freedom.

Have things changed? Does the Welcome Wagon greet them as they wash up on Florida's beaches? Are they offered coffee and donuts when they crawl from the filth-infested hold of a freighter? At the broken fence guarding the Rio Grande, are they given maps to Los Angeles? No, they are funny speaking intruders, as Columbus was when he landed and asked, “Who's the Maharajah here?”

America is no longer limitless, and if we accepted everyone who wanted in, the rest of the world would be mighty empty. So quotas are set, and argued. Who gets in? People with American relatives? College graduates? Left-handers? Shortstops?

What about the refugees without Washington lobbyists or major league agents? They are determined to get to and stay in America. Americans are concerned they will steal jobs real Americans want, like neutering sheep or strangling chickens.

Is there a compromise?

Pets. Allow them to enter as exotic pets. This eliminates all arguments barring their entry. As pets they will steal no jobs, stay off welfare, and learn the English language.

And what a boon to real Americans! Sure they'll communicate with unintelligible utterances at first, but that's much less annoying than barks and screeches. They'll be grateful for any roof over their heads, and content to sleep on a rug.

After years of malnutrition they can't eat more than a cocker spaniel, and if you search hard enough and get lucky, you may find one who has really starved and eats less than a canary. These wretches would gladly eat what you wouldn't feed a dog, so enjoy savings on expensive pet foods. Unlike cats, hungry people aren't finicky.

In addition to being less expensive than conventional pets, they would prove far more useful. So your dog can fetch and sit, big deal. Immigrant pets could foil burglars, tackling and holding them rather than rubbing against their legs. They could wash dishes, replace storm windows, clean gutters, or rewire fuse boxes. You could use them like the rich folks in Beverly Hills and Washington do, except now it would be legal.

Americans shell out incredible amounts of money to appear successful. Immigrant pets would cost nothing and be a better symbol of your upward mobility and general trendiness. Think of your neighbors enviously watching you loll about your immigrant-built swimming pool, being served by wretched human beings grateful for your kindness.

Immigrant pets would also benefit future generations. No more news stories of thirty-four people living in a match box. Your pet's litter would learn, and could follow your children to school. There, sitting outside the window, they could receive an education, allowing them to enter the work force, eventually becoming day traders and lawyers, or something useful.

What a compromise-allowing desperate people to live in America, at no expense to the taxpayer, while freeing you from disgusting household chores. A photo layout in People magazine of Jane Fonda displaying her pets would send millions of Americans scurrying to the borders to corral their very own pets.

The immigrants would gradually assimilate into American society, striking out on their own to enjoy the benefits and privileges of our republic. And anxiously awaiting the next batch of desperate, dirty immigrants seeking freedom, willing to endure anything to find it.

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