Thursday, April 13, 2006

Immigration

Since immigration is, once again, a hot issue I thought that these might be helpful:

Nationalism and xenophobia are not new. Here's a clip from The Forward from around 100 years ago: "Immigration to America is on the rise, according to a report issued by the commissioner of the bureau of immigration. The number of new arrivals to America is the highest since 1893. This past year has seen a total of 303,762 immigrants enter the country at various ports. The largest immigrant groups to arrive are Syrians, Greeks, Italians, various peoples from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Polish and Russian Jews. The commissioner states that most of these people are not worthy of living in this country, which would be better off not to have these individuals among its citizens."

The Moderate Voice: Who Are the Aliens?
by Holly in Cincinnati

We are the aliens.

Diaspora Voice: Those undesirable immigrants
By SAMUEL FREEDMAN in the Jerusalem Post

She never wanted to come to America. She only did it to make money, enough money to bring over her five brothers and sisters. She waited 16 years before bothering to become a citizen, and took the step mostly to avoid being deported.

She never learned more than a few words of English, not even after decades in her ambivalently adopted land. She shopped in stores where she could use her native tongue, and she read newspapers that were written in it, and she attended plays whose actors spoke it. If something needed to be done in English, she left the transaction to her children.

Most of what the kids cared about, the movies and sports and foods, was only fit for "American dopes," as she put it in one of her favorite phrases. Everything was better back in her home country. The bread was better, the clergy was better, the holidays were better.

He lied his way into America. He hid any record of his prison sentence and his jailbreak. He snuck past the border guards by carrying a stolen passport and using a false name. After just a few years in the United States, he was in jail again, suspected of being part of a terrorist gang.

He never married his female companion, just shacked up and had children. He sired four of them, and for a while he did not even enroll them in public school. The eldest, a daughter, took up at 18 with a boyfriend, and naturally they, too, had a son out of wedlock.

WE ALL know, we Americans in the midst of a vitriolic national debate about immigration, just how abominably newcomers to our country behave - the way they take jobs from our own people, the way they refuse to assimilate, the way they flout our moral values and our criminal laws.

I certainly know, because the two undesirable immigrants I've described to you happen to be my grandparents...