Immigration Reform and the Death of Culture

The terrorization and victimization of immigrants currently going on at our borders is not just horrifying for all the key reasons of human rights violation. But on a different level it is a threat of extinction of a part of ourselves fostered by the idea of America. There are many metropolitan centers in the world. And certainly many aspects of multicultural cities are duplicated in some measure in many parts of the world. But not to the same degree in so many places, as here. This is most clearly shown in the wealth of food variety, and the phenomenon of the food mecca. Take one well-known food mecca, Denver. In very few other places could one find restaurants in the same city that offer Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Eritrean, southwest BBQ, Deep Southern, Cajun, Creole, Syrian, Persian, Lebanese, Mexican, Brazilian, Peruvian, Native American, French, Italian, Israeli, German, Czech, Hungarian, British, Irish, Indian, and ‘classic American’. This, in what twenty years ago was a little mid-west cow town that still had hitching posts outside one of the malls. All thanks to immigrants.

The food mecca is a magical place that could not exist without the labors and true love of immigrants and the encouragement of immigration. Food, one of the most basic of necessities, is also one of our most basic ways of expressing love. It is into our food that we pour that love of family, of culture, of life itself. It is how we bond, how we share with friends. It is how we express notions of safety, security, happiness, and the comfort of home. When our children get married, we say “Hey, my kid’s going to have lots of sex and someday start their own family. I’m going to be a grandparent…hopefully! Eat with me and share my hope!” When someone leaves us, our friends and family say “Here, eat this fried chicken, a bowl of these noodles, a slice of this cake, and everything will feel better in the morning.” And for people everywhere, there is a basic drive to share this slice of home, this comfort with the world. I, for one, am happy to eat from everyone’s slice of home. Sharing food, every kind of food, is one of the most joyful things in the world to me. When people are sharing food, they aren’t bickering or dwelling on the bad impulses of our nature, except maybe gluttony from food porn. I’ll take that instead of war and hatred very day. When people are sharing food, they are growing on each other, and learning that not only do we have some basic things in common, but our differences could be delicious and wonderful. It is into food that we pour our souls.

The death of immigration will mean the death of the opportunities for such food meccas, such opportunities to share, first our food, then other things. It will mean a narrowing of our focus. It will mean isolation, and eventually the death of our collective soul. Immigration must be defended to prevent all of the immediate threats to life and human rights, but also to prevent the sequelae of such an amputation of many many limbs that makes us American in our ideals, and to prevent the damage to our minds and cultural souls as a whole.

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