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An Immigrant On Immigration

Two recent events, that coincidentally occurred on the same day, set me to thinking.  Yes, I see you roll your eyes at the prospect, but bear with me, dear reader.

This past Tuesday was both my 56th anniversary on this planet, and the same day I received (at long last) my permanent residency in Indonesia.

In the Indonesian tradition, the personal celebrating a birthday is obliged to feed everyone, so I created a feast of rare and exotic delights: burritos with all the trimmings.  My family is finally coming to appreciate odoriferous and unusual spices called chilli powder and cumin.  Rather than being happy, I am rather upset since in the past I was able to have double portions, given that no one else would touch the stuff.  This last round, I was only able to salvage two burritos and was forced to drown my sorrows in chocolate cake.

I mention this only in passing to that the reader can appreciate that some things we take for granted in our everyday world can become rare gems when we are far removed from them.  It's also amusing when Asians assume that Westerners don't eat rice and stand agog when I bring out a steaming bowl of paella as part of my ethnic feast.

All that aside, it was the permanent residency that really had me thinking.  I've been here for 10 years now, and in that time, I've made 10 annual pilgrimages to the immigration office to renew my long-stay visa.  This onerous duty has cost me many hours and somewhere in the range of about $8,000 over the decade.

When I arrived here, there were no social service nets, no free dwellings, no food stamps.  I had only what I brought and could manage to acquire once in country.  I worked incredibly long hours building a network, establishing myself, and saving my money.  The result is that I now have a family, some property and a couple of growing businesses.  More, in fact, than I ever had in my native country.

Perhaps it was the motivation of having no safety net, perhaps it was a much lower cost of entry.  Whatever the reason, I can say with some pride that my wife and I earned everything we have, and it gives me some ownership in my adopted home.

When I look at the US and EU, with their horrific immigration problems, I scratch my head in amazement.  The policies applied toward immigrants are probably some of the most abusive and hurtful ever conceived, and will ultimately do far more harm than the well-intentioned but deeply misguided folks can possibly know.  These policies will also prove to be ultimately destructive to the societies that adopt them.

If you are a believer in social safety nets, then you are probably staring at the screen wondering what kind of heartless crank would write such a thing, but hang in there.

When I arrived in Indonesia, I had a single suitcase and $1,000.  That's it.  I knew four people here, and that helped a little, but not much.  I didn't know the language and the culture was about as foreign as anything I have ever encountered in my travels.

My first purchase was a translating dictionary and I immediately began learning the language.  Within three months, I could negotiate a meal and buy necessities at the local store.  Keep in mind that I was not in Jakarta or other big, cosmopolitan city.  I was in Balikpapan in Borneo where no one spoke English - at all.

I cam with several plans of attack to make money.  By the end of the first year, I had burned through all of them and was fully improvising as I went.  Within six months, I was able to rent a furnished apartment and pay my bills by literallly teaching English door-to-door for cash.  At the end of the first year, I hired a live-in maid to cook and clean while I worked 15-18 hours a day.

No welfare checks, no food stamps, no freebies.  Just wits and work.

When the Western countries import people, which is what they are truly doing, and hand them pretty much everything for free, what incentive is there to become productive?  What's worse, when the free ride ends, as all politically motivated programs do, these people will be cast aside, never having learned the language or culture, having no local support network and having no way to return to whence they came.  In effect, the current feel-good immigration policies are a huge humanitarian disaster waiting to happen.

Most of the thousands of immigrants were lured with hand-outs, much the way one might lure a wild dog or cat in an effort to tame them.  These people have been shoveled into ghettos where they are able to use their native language and are never forced to learn the lingua franca of their adopted lands.  Most of them have little or no contact with the local inhabitants and do not have jobs - nor do they need one - since everything is handed to them on a platter.

What happens to these people when the rug is pulled out from under them?  When the political tide turns and the will to completely support thousands of people is gone, and they are thousands of miles from anything they know, how will these people survive?  They have no local contacts, don't speak the language, have developed no skills, don't know how to pay bills and taxes, and are fully and completely unable to support themselves and their families?

Oh sure, a few enterprising individuals will adapt, even thrive, but they will be the exceptions.  The vast majority will have nothing to survive on and nothing to pay passage home again.  They will become either a new slave class, or more likely, a despised and forgotten mass of humanity left to rot.

Political will is a fickle thing and can change on a whim.  It is also completely without foresight, preferring instead to service instant gratification, rather than look far into the future of possible outcomes.  The ones who always suffer for this lack of vision are the pawns in the political games.

In an attempt to assuage some kind of guilt in the liberal mind, the policies have instead sentenced thousands to a life of misery, and very likely death.  It does no one any favors to hand them a free life, because at some point the one handing out the goodies will have a change of heart and resent the grasping hands of the recipient.

Take it from an immigrant - it is too late to fix the damage done, but it is not too late to stop the horror from growing.  It may seem in the short term that one is doing a great humanitarian service, but in the long term these policies will become a horror that takes decades or more to repair.  There is no benefit to any side in this horror.  The givers will eventually tire of giving, and the takers will have no means by which to survive when the tap runs dry.

Organic immigration - people like myself who choose to live elsewhere and are prepared mentally and physically to work for it - is a time-honored function of humanity.  It is a vital part of mixing and growing societies and civilizations.  The uprooting of masses to satisfy political whims, though, is a disaster in the making and will damage societies and civilizations, possibly beyond repair.

Now, if I remember correctly, there's still some chocolate cake buried at the bottom of the fridge.

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