Merriam-Webster defines merit as follows:
a obsolete : reward or punishment due
b : the qualities or actions that constitute the basis of one’s deserts Opinions of his merit vary.
c : a praiseworthy quality : virtue but originality, as it is one of the highest, is also one of the rarest, of merits— E. A. Poe
d : character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem also : achievement composed a number of works of merit — H. E. Starr
The concept behind the definition is that something is earned. A person’s conduct, character, or actions deserve either a positive or negative response–generally today it implies a positive response.
The following quote is from an ABC News article posted yesterday:
“I want to just say something about the word that they use ‘merit.’ It is really a condescending word,” Pelosi said. “Are they saying family is without merit? Are they saying most of the people who have ever come to the United States in the history of our country are without merit because they don’t have an engineering degree? Certainly we want to attract the best to our country and that includes many people from many parts of society.”
I would like to point out that the most of the people who came to the United States came before the existence of the welfare state. Their ‘merit’ was their willingness to work to build America. Unfortunately many of the people now arriving lack that ‘merit.’ Many are coming here looking for a free lunch.
I am not opposed to family immigration, but we need to look at the consequences of having family immigration as the majority of our immigration. Uncle Fred might have been a successful farmer in his younger years, but his best years are behind him. His medical needs have increased and his ability to work has decreased. It may be the humane thing to do to reunite Uncle Fred with his family and give him the medical care he needs, but it is the humane thing to do while our veterans are waiting years for medical care that they have earned?
Can we afford to have an immigration system not based on what will help our country remain prosperous? Again, I am not opposed to family immigration, but we need to be certain that the people we bring into America will help build America and not be a burden on the people already here.
Merit doesn’t necessarily mean an engineering degree, but it does mean an ability to assimilate into America, work hard, and be an asset to themselves and to their community.