American symbols: Does our flag say ‘KEEP OUT’? SYMBOLS have been associated with the U.S.-Mexico border for more than a century. In this 1916 cartoon by Clifford Berryman, a stars-and-stripes-bedecked Uncle Sam chases Pancho Villa across the border, shouting: “I’ve had about enough of this!” Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.The American flag can be a beacon for those seeking political asylum, refuge from war, or better economic prospects. But, it can also be a giant KEEP OUT sign. Activists, for example, place American flags along the U.S.-Mexico barrier fence to symbolize their opposition to illegal immigration.

Should Old Glory be used this way?

Immigration is a huge issue. Last month in El Paso, Obama said, “there is a consensus around fixing what’s broken.” This consensus includes 4 points, the president said in remarks transcribed on the White House website. 

A Secure Border: The “government has a threshold responsibility to secure our borders and enforce the law,” the president said. THE OTHER SIDE of the border, Mexican artists have installed their own powerful folk art. In many areas, crosses name Mexicans who died while migrating. In this section, near the Tijuana border, photographer Tomas Castelazo captured brightly painted coffins showing totals of migrant deaths. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.Holding business accountable: Those who hire and exploit undocumented workers must be held accountable.

Holding illegal immigrants accountable: “They broke the law, and that means they’ve got to pay their taxes, they’ve got to pay a fine, they’ve got to learn English. And they’ve got to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they get in line for legalization,” Obama said.

Immigration reform: The current system is dysfunctional. For example, many bright students are educated here, but are forced to return home—where they use their education to create businesses that compete against U.S. companies. That sort of dysfunction has to stop, Obama said, and new ways must be found to encourage foreign students to remain and open businesses here in the U.S.

Do you agree with Obama’s four points?

Is it appropriate that, at times, the flag should be a giant KEEP OUT sign?

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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