“I AM AN American.” That little phrase speaks volume. To be born an American citizen of American parentage is something we can all be grateful for in these challenging times.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said recently “Polls show that 800 million people around the world would choose to come to America if our immigration quotas would permit it.”

But that’s not realistic. So, how do we decide who the lucky 1.2 million legal immigrants should be? “Don’t we have the right, the obligation to determine and select who comes here and where they come from?” asked Paul.

The United States rations its immigration slots, granting permanent residency to 1.2 million people a year. They are selected based on many factors. The demand is so high that more than 4 million are denied residency and remain on the list for future consideration.

It should be noted, officials said, one driving pattern in the selection process is the fact of family reunification. In most years, more than 65% of entering immigrants have relatives already in the United States.

Many people said this is chain migration and they feel it is unfair. However, studies show that immigrants with intact families perform better in society. But the policy also creates a disadvantage for other highly-qualified and skilled applicants who may deserve admittance.

Democrats refuse to use the term chain migration, they prefer family unification, saying it has racial implication because it dehumanizes immigrants. Scholars say that isn’t true. Democrats hope to make it an issue in the coming mid-term elections.

People also ask if America is doing enough to relocate the 67 million refugees who roam the world. They were forced to flee their homes as a result of war, displacement or natural disasters.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, family migration accounts for 65% of the 1.2 million legal immigrants to America, based on 2016 figures. The diversity lottery and refugees account for 20% and 12% come as work-related entrants.

Of the 65%, officials said 80% met the immediate family criteria of spouses, children and parents. The other 20% (distant relatives) found a way to beat the system.

Officials said lawful immigrants can petition for a spouse and unmarried children to come to the United States. Natural citizens also can petition to bring married children, parents and siblings to America.

Under the rules, neither can directly petition for an aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, in-law relative or grandparent. The trouble is, those relatives tend to show up in America and make themselves at home.

The argument is we need to bring people here based on merit, not just family ties. We need strong families with a tireless work ethic, a love for America and a strong desire to assimilate.

The fact is we need certain low-skill workers in addition to highly-educated, professional workers. Compounding the problem is the entry of undocumented, illegal immigrants. They often end up in the shadows and become a burden to our criminal justice system.

Back in the late 1980s, Earl W. Powell, Ph.D. wrote “As an American, I do have privileges and responsibilities, choices and demands. What kind of an American I am is reflected in my choices, how I accept responsibilities, what I do with my privileges.”

Powell said “As an American, I have certain rights and privileges that some countries do not bestow upon their citizens. For instance, I have the ‘right’ to choose the church in which I desire to worship.

“I have the ‘right’ to choose the university for my education. I have the ‘right’ to choose my profession for my living. I have the ‘right’ to free speech. I could go on and on about my rights and privileges, but space does not permit my listing them all.

“Along with certain rights and privileges are also certain obligations that are mine which, as an American, I cannot evade or shirk.

“It is a responsibility of mine to think and to act wisely regarding those for whom I vote. I am a part of the 320 million who make up this democracy. It is an obligation of mine to help in enforcing laws that are designed to protect my privileges.

“Taxes are imposed upon us all, and we fuss and lament such taxes, but in spite of them, we have in abundance more than most citizens of most other countries in this world.

“We, as Americans, must be ever alert that some of these choices we have and have had since this nation was born, should not be denied us. As an American, I intend to do all I can to protect these inalienable rights that are mine. Every American should do the same thing.”

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I HAVE never seen anger and animosity convert anyone’s position. Persuasion requires a kinship that includes respect for the other person and an understanding of how they arrived at their point of view. Name-calling has changed very few minds.

About half of the people have liberal views and the other half have conservative views. There is virtually nothing you can say or do that will change that. Sadly, common sense has been overtaken by nonsense.

The age of social media and the 24/7 news cycle have worked against the ideas of decorum, dignity and self-control. Otherwise shy people now feel emboldened by the ability to post their thoughts anonymously. That fuels their passion for divisive issues like identity politics, gender topics and progressive socialism.