Paul A. Ibbetson
Analyzing the open-border mentality
By Paul A. Ibbetson
February 4, 2011

How special is America? Is it truly a unique place where people can find opportunities for a better life that surpass those of other countries? Many think this to be true and the country has had a long history of being a welcoming place for people from all across the world. From 1892 to 1924 the port of New York at Ellis Island processed over 20 million foreign immigrants to legally enter the country. According to the National Park Service's Ellis Island site, as many as 11,747 immigrants legally entered America in a single day in 1907. It is estimated that as many 100 million Americans are descendants of the process of legal immigration that took place at locations such as Ellis Island.

Unfortunately, the mentality that gave America such a large infusion of hopeful and hardworking immigrants to this country has vanished and has been replaced with something much different. For one, immigrants entering America through Ellis Island came in with no preconceived beliefs that the United States owed them anything. Instead, immigrants entered the country with gracious humility to seek out the "American Dream."

Traditional immigration encompassed a mutually respectful exchange between country and immigrant for the right of admittance. Foreigners had to show that they had a trade or other ability that would be useful to the country in order to be allowed in. Also, immigrants had to show that they were not carrying harmful communicable diseases that would be a detriment to the American people. Some immigrants were held for observation due to fear of disease and about two percent of those seeking to enter the country were turned away. America's policy at that time was most certainly pro-immigration but it also encompassed a secure border element that is sorely lacking today. The next time you're faced with an argument for open borders by someone who declares we are all descendants of immigrants, remember that a majority of this country's classical immigration was conducted legally.

Today's open-border mentality has been steadily moving toward an entitlement belief system that combines the thinking that America, for some inexplicable reason, owes everybody everything and that the country's financial pockets are bottomless. This open-border entitlement mentality has not only enveloped immigrants that enter America through our southern border, it is also a heavily entrenched mentality for many within the U.S. government. The idea that America needs illegal immigrants to do America's work is still touted despite the crushing unemployment rates of the last two years. The open-border mentality has been tested by time and continues to exist. No matter whether a Republican or Democrat is running the country, the border remains unsecured and the American people continue to pay from their own pockets, suffer from a lack of security and be forced to endure the open-border propaganda machine.

Recently Americans were shown a presentation meant to highlight the futility of the fence at the Mexican border. Fox News aired footage of two women scaling a four-million-dollar-a-mile security fence in eighteen seconds at the southern border. The message being sent is that attempts to secure the border are futile. What is less evident in this visual of the fast-moving climbers circumventing the border fence is the missing concertina wire at the fence's apex let alone the lack of funding for double fencing that has fallen to the wayside since 2006. If one can break away from the open-border mentality, what is actually shown in such depictions is that the American government is extremely successful at failing when they really try.

To maintain the current open-border mentality that secure borders are akin to hatred of immigrants, an idea that would have been rejected by the immigrants processed at Ellis Island, it has become acceptable for government officials to spend their times downplaying incidents such as the daily gun battles that occur in places like Laredo, Texas, by the Mexican drug runners. The open-border mentality requires a person to accept as economically reasonable the $1.6 billion being spent for welfare, public safety and healthcare for illegal aliens in Los Angeles County alone. Sadly, U.S. citizens are more likely to receive a bundle of airmail(ed) marijuana via catapult than a secure border.

America has never had an inability to secure the border. If the government desired, we have the means to create a southern border that would allow only recognized and processed immigrants into the country as we did at Ellis Island. What we have is a mentality problem that starts with how some perceive the worth of America and its relationship with those that wish to visit or become part of this wonderful country. The immigrants that came to Ellis Island came with respect for America. Respect of country leads to a respect of a country's law and its people. The idea of illegal immigrants covertly entering America to give birth to children that will eventually receive citizenship and social benefits that must be paid for by the descendants of Ellis Island's legal immigrants is more than a painful irony. In the end it shows us the dark side of the current open-border mentality, a mentality that perceives the value of America as less than what has been traditionally held by the immigrants that have made this country so great. We will all pay if we allow this mentality to dominate our actions as a nation on the issue of border security.

© Paul A. Ibbetson


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Paul A. Ibbetson

Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor's and Master's degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and his PhD. in sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of several books and is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association's 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 award winning, Conscience of Kansas airing across the state. Visit his website at For interviews or questions, please contact


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