This photo shows Ellis Island Detention Station in New York Harbour as news photographers return to Manhattan after a visit to the island on June 13, 1947. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service permitted photographs to be taken on the Island, but no close-ups of individuals and detainees. (AP Photo)

The Trump administration is proposing to tighten rules under which immigrants aspiring to permanent residency in the United States might obtain that privilege. The key provision is that any aspiring immigrant who has accessed public benefits such as welfare or food stamps in 12 of the past 36 months would be ineligible for permanent residency (a green card).

Oh, how the Left is howling.

Of course, it is neither racist nor anti-immigrant to insist that people from other countries who want to become permanent U.S. residents be capable of supporting themselves. Such has been the law of the land since the Immigration Act of 1882, which states in part, 

any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge…shall not be permitted to land.”

It is perfectly reasonable that immigration policy would protect U.S. taxpayers from the burden of supporting indigent immigrants. It’s in fact more than merely reasonable. It is incumbent. No nation, no matter how wealthy, can afford to import poverty. Certainly, no nation that is $22 trillion in debt and facing an entitlement funding crisis of enormous proportions can afford such folly.

Liberals are fond of saying that the United States is a nation of immigrants. That is true. But they leave out the fact that the immigrants about whom they selectively wax rhapsodic came to the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries via Galveston and Ellis Island legally

Lefties who go on about our immigrant heritage would do well to actually visit Ellis Island. Such a visit would be instructive. One would learn that not every would-be immigrant was admitted. There are images and stories of the heartbreak of aspiring immigrants who pulled together their very last resources to afford a steamship ticket in steerage only to be turned away for one reason or another. One would learn that there were programs in place intended to assimilate new immigrant arrivals into American culture. And one would learn that immigrants were required, as a condition of their admission, to demonstrate self-sufficiency.

Of course, the reporting on this story has been positively godawful. The network newscasts have been filled with predictable stories of families living on the edge of starvation for fear of losing their chances of getting green cards. Nearly every story has cast the Trump administration as heartless, unfeeling, uncaring and, (drumroll please), racist.

Not reported, however, is that though not enforced, it is in fact still U.S. law that legal immigrants cannot access public benefits for five years after being granted permanent resident status.

In short, none of this is new. What’s new is an administration with the resolve to enforce policy that has long been in place. And it is a fact that almost every country requires those wishing to immigrate to show the means for maintaining self-sufficiency once admitted. U.S. taxpayers (indeed taxpayers everywhere) do not have a presumptive obligation to support the world’s poor. Immigration policy that recognizes this fact isn’t racist. It’s responsible.

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