I want to fight for immigrants and Dreamers, because we are ALL descendants of immigrants. Jennifer Lewis, candidate, VA06
As thoughtful Americans — across much of the political spectrum — rise with mounting concerns about the Dreamers, more and more people are reflecting on their own histories, on their own families, recognizing explicitly that “we are ALL descendants of immigrants.”
Published in yesterday’s Washington Post, this letter responding to a Samuelson OPED opposing immigration strongly captures that concern.
In his Feb. 5 op-ed, Robert J. Samuelson said, “the ability to absorb new immigrants is one of the glories of the American project, but it is not infinite.”
My grandfather came from Ukraine and was an illiterate tailor. His wife, my grandmother, cleaned houses. They raised five sons. The eldest became an engineer. My father, the second, became a Supreme Court judge in New York state. The other three were doctors, all of whom served the United States in World War II. Would we welcome my grandparents today?
My granddaughter came from an orphanage in India and has a doctorate in physical therapy. Would she be welcome in our country today?
My sister was orphaned during the Holocaust; she became an elementary school principal. Would she be welcomed today?
Consider your own heritage, consider how members of your family have contributed to strengthening this nation, and consider the heartless nature of the extremist Freedom Caucus / Tea Party elements dominating the Republican Party when it comes to immigration, and remember that “we All descendants of immigrants”. With the contributions to American society from across your family, then consider the question: ‘would your ancestors be welcomed today?’
A large share of Americans’ heritage comes from the ‘shit hole’ countries of their times. Scandinavians didn’t flock to the Midwest because times were wonderful at home. The Irish emigrated in mass because of that minor hiccup of the Potato Famine. Jews fled the Russian Pogroms and other East European oppression. And … People didn’t flee paradises to emigrate to the United States (or, well, the colonies) but fled their shit holes in search of something closer to Paradise … to “America, a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”
Both Lewis and the Washington Post letter writer captured fundamental truth about immigration that too many, especially those in the far-right of the Republican Party, have forgotten or simply ignore.
NOTE: Disclosure, the letter was authored by Joyce Siegel, my mother. While many members of my family (three generations) has had (multiple) letters published (examples of mine here (re reporting on Trump and Northam campaign), here, here , here (re Virginia energy issue)…), a hat tip to my mother for what might be the most powerfully on point one.