In a nation of immigrants, dignity should be accorded all

While the current national conflict on the immigration front has not brought forcible parent and child breakups to our corner of southern New England, it is revealing real and significant differences of opinion on how to approach the issue.

For instance, while many of Rhode Island’s elected and public-safety officials have made it clear they will not fully cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff in efforts to round up undocumented immigrants, there are many in the public sphere who want to roll up the welcome mat for immigration.

At the same time, the most recent poll showed a slight majority of respondents disagreeing with Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s stated refusal to send R.I. National Guard troops to the southern U.S. border to help implement President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

In difficult times, it can help to go back to first principles, and on the issue of immigration, the first one is pretty basic. With the exception of the few Native Americans in the region, we are all immigrants, and the legal, industrial, military and diplomatic power of the nation was built by immigrant hands and effort.

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And while it is true that our nation’s resources are not infinite, and we must respect our legal system of immigration, it is also true that we should and must treat all human beings with the dignity that our founding documents laid out as our reason for being. With that in mind, we need to move forward and try to continue our efforts to “form a more perfect union.”