I was happy to read Great Bend Tribune article: “Citizenship Classes start Tuesday”(Oct. 26 issue). I am glad that that free “legal Citizenship Classes” will be offered beginning Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Center for Adult Education, 1025 Main, in Great Bend. I am doubly pleased that the cost is “free” or “gratis”, aside from a $20 textbook fee, plus that it is aimed at those honorable people who seek “legal citizenship” done by the appropriate legal channels. I was surprised that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) will increase their fees for most immigration applications and petitions from $680 to $725, effective Dec. 23rd. So, there is no time for applicants to waste. Promptness means everything. I am a strong supporter of legal immigration. My ancestors on all sides came here, legally. A great majority settled in Kansas, while only a few settled in other states, including Nebraska. They all came here the right way: legally. I frown on “illegal immigration.” I am Roman Catholic and don’t have a bigoted bone in my body. In fact, I have a few Hispanic and Asian relatives. Some married my cousins and I welcome them with open arms, since they did the studying, they filled-out the paperwork, they paid the fees, they wished to assimilate into our existing culture (including speaking the English language), which, as President Theodore Roosevelt said “...We should insist that the immigrant assimilates himself to us and he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here....We have room but for one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.” Lots of people try to parse Roosevelt’s words, but he was on-target. Having a common bond, a common language, and a common soul is what unites us as Americans.
I regularly correspond with some of my distant cousins in England (the United Kingdom), the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, and Brazil. They are well-educated people. They are patiently waiting-in-line to become U.S. Citizens. They are rightfully frustrated because in most of their cases an ocean separates their current nation from ours. They are discouraged at those who cheat and simply walk or wade shallow waters of the Rio Grande River to cross into America or walk across an unseen-line in the desert, illegally. They feel that those lawbreakers have effectively “cut in line” ahead of them. They are bewildered since those who have cheated sometimes give birth to babies immediately with full American benefits, including financial benefits. Meanwhile, my law-abiding relatives in foreign lands patiently wait and wait wondering if their turn-in-line will ever materialize? That, is what has made our immigration-system so unfair. I love immigrants. I want to help those who attempt to abide by our long-standing laws. We cannot let our bleeding hearts for one group who came illegally even with hardships “blind us” to other potential immigrants with equal hardships who are hamstrung by an ocean as a barrier, which they cannot sneak-across in a single day.
I am just happy that Great Bend is offering free classes that help the law abiding aspirants who want to be legal immigrants come here “the lawful way,” and hopefully assimilate into existing American Society. “Unity” is crucial. Without unity in core believes, language, ideals, ethical decency, a basic understanding of our past American history and customs we become a dotted landscape. The United States of America has made its greatest strides when we stay united. Nowadays people confuse “freedom” with “anything goes.” Not so. Some things must bind us together into working for the “common good” by legal channels. Our laws must be solid and clear. They must be uniformly enforced. My mother was born in Great Bend in 1922. Her grandparents emigrated to Barton County between 1876 and 1878. My mom’s grandparents attempted to informally teach the kids the old German language at home (they failed, which may have been an indirect blessing). However, to my grandparents and great-grandparent’s credit they insisted the kids “speak English at school and at all public places.” Very wise. My mom was proud they did that. Since my dads grandparents were of extraction from the British Isles (on all sides of his family) it was easy for his parents to likewise encourage English as the common-language. I am proud of Great Bend for encouraging such worthy classes to mold “legal Americans” who are proud of their new nation. The can be proud of their old heritage, but must work hard for America as we have it now. Without a bit of cohesion, we are sadly a divided and polarized nation that is prone to discord and like many other great nations who ignored Sovereignty: The United States isn’t immune from falling from within. God bless the U.S.A. forever.
James A. Marples,