May is Jewish American Heritage Month. With antisemitism on the rise in frightening numbers, the easier thing would be to hide who we are. Instead, we should be loud and proud of who we are. In honor of this month, I would like to offer a small list of American Jews who have made an impact on this nation.
Unlike other nations, the United States has a reputation of not being so homogeneous. Most, if not all Americans (unless one is of Native-American descent), can trace their family history to at least one member of their family who was born somewhere else.
You know who and his administration seem to be determined to destroy all that.
Last week, ICE raided several meat processing plants in Mississippi. Hundreds of employees were arrested, many of who are not in the country legally. Among those arrested and detained, a good amount are also parents, leaving their children without a stable parental support system.
Watching these clips breaks my heart. One would have to be inhuman (or without a heart) to not feel something for these kids.
What I find disturbing is that while the company’s owners get off scot free and continue to rake in profits, their employees are targeted for potentially not entering the country legally. And of course, the company had a job fair to fill the jobs that have been left vacant.
One does not risk everything and leave the country of their birth to start over in a new country for shits and giggles. More than a century ago, members of my family left Eastern Europe because of the three p’s: prejudice, poverty and pogroms. The stories of these immigrants may not be the same as my family’s story, but their reason is the same.
America has been and always will be the land of immigrants. It does not matter if one immigrated yesterday, two generations ago, or five generations ago. We are all related to immigrants. Until we appreciate and respect that notion, we will continue to disregard our history and the national ideals that we claim to be proud of.
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It does not say anywhere within the poem, “tell them not to come”.
Those are the words of the man who Americans elected to lead us in 2016.
What are these migrants supposed to do? Stay in a country in which violence, destruction and hunger is the norm? Watch as their children starve or die from gang violence? Just hand over their sons to the gangs to fill their ranks? Give their daughters to the gangs to become sexual playthings?
What would you do if you were in their shoes? Would you just stay or make the dangerous trek to America, hoping that the United States provides the safety and freedom that does not exist in your home country?
Past generations have left their homelands for America for the same reason that these people are leaving for America. It’s time to tell the administration to stop this persecution of Central American immigrants and treat them as human beings.
The myth about America pertains to the thorny issue of immigration. While Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus has greeted new American immigrants along with The Statue Of Liberty for generations, the immigrant experience has never been an easy one.
In 2018, the complications have become magnified, thanks to you know who.
Last month, college student Mollie Tibbetts went missing. This week, her body was found. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities have identified as an illegal immigrant originally from Mexico was accused of her murder.
My heart breaks for those who knew her and loved her. May her memory be a blessing.
It didn’t take long for certain political factions in this country to use this girl’s murder as a reason to paint all illegal immigrants with broad brush. Most, if not all immigrants, regardless of their status, did not come to America to become criminals. They came to this country for the freedoms and opportunities that for many immigrants are not available in the countries of their birth.
This case also bring to light two scourges on our global cultural landscape: sexism and racism. Some of the news reports stated that Mr. Rivera approached Miss Tibbetts. When she rebuffed him, he didn’t understand that no means no. Racism comes into the picture because this case amplifies the myth that all men of color are predators when it comes to white women. Therefore, white woman need to be protected by white men from the men of color who might have less than honorable or harmless intentions.
The other news story that brings into light the shades of grey when it comes to immigration is the case of Jakiw Palij.
In 1949, he came to America, claiming to be a farmhand and factory worker. Since then, he has lived in Queens, New York. According to news reports, Mr. Palij was actually a Nazi labor camp guard at Trawniki concentration camp and lied on his immigration paperwork. He is being deported back to Germany.
While I understand that he is 95 years old, justice must be served. From my perspective, when an immigrant is deported, the government must have a solid reason to send him or her back to their country of origin. In this case, I cannot disagree with his deportation. While it would be impossible in 2018 to prosecute every member of the Nazi party who stood by while their Jewish friends and neighbors were being murdered, the prosecution of Mr. Palij must proceed. The message must be heard loudly and clearly: those who had a hand in murdering Jews and other minorities during World War II will be judged and prosecuted for their actions.
Despite the promise of America, immigration will never be a black and white issue. It is my opinion that unfortunately, it’s taken Americans over 200 years to realize that fact.
It’s no secret that the current administration is openly hostile to immigrants. The hostility is greater when it comes to immigrants of color escaping persecution and violence in their country of birth.
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,”
So, basically, according to Jeff Sessions, America is closed to these people. The New Colossus is invalid.
This is not the America I was raised in. This is not the America that I believe in, know and love. This is not the America that welcomed my immigrant ancestors to her shores a little more than a century ago.
This is the America that I am ashamed to call my own.
America, despite its lofty ideals of freedom and diversity, can sometimes be described as “do as I say, not as I do”.
Our immigration policy history is not as welcoming as we might think. Added to the list of these policies is President Trump’s new immigration policy, if Congress agrees to codify it into law, will be one more blemish on the lofty ideals that we claim to be proud of.
Unless someone can say that they have Native American ancestry (and even their ancestors had to come from somewhere else), we are all immigrants. Most Americans can trace their family back to someone who chose to leave their family and their homeland for a new life in America. That is the first issue that I have with the proposed amendment to the immigration policy. The second is a reply to the b*llsh*t excuse that has been used for generations to prevent new immigrants from coming into the country: they will take our jobs. While some new immigrants may have a professional background and a degree, many others have to start from scratch. Find me an American citizen who wants to spend their days picking vegetables under a hot sun or washing dishes in a restaurant and earning minimum wage. That person is unlikely to be found.
I could go on, but I think Stephen Colbert’s response and satirical revision of Emma Lazarus’s The New Colossus in response to the new proposed policy says it all.
The following words have greeted new immigrants to America for generations:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,/With conquering limbs astride from land to land;/Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand/Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command/The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame/”Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she/With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
When my great grandparents and millions of others immigrated to America around the turn of the 20th century, these words welcomed them with open arms. They fled repression, hunger, poverty and hatred, looking for freedom and opportunity in America, known as the golden medina (the golden land).
Donald Trump’s new ban on immigration and specifically, Muslim immigration was enacted this week. The reaction has been swift and angry. America is the land of immigrants and the land of opportunity. While I have no problem vetting potential immigrants to prevent terrorist attacks, I do have a problem with a carte blanche ban on all refugees from entering America.
The irony of the ban is that while some refugees from some Muslim majority countries have been banned from entering, the border is still open to other Muslim majority countries.The countries that we are still accepting refugees from, have only contributed to terrorist attacks, but also has ties to Trump’s past business dealings.
This man has been in the Oval Office for a little more than a week and has already turned this country and this world upside down and not for the better.
It grieves me to think of the lives that could potentially be lost within the next few months. But they’re only refugees fleeing destruction, hatred and poverty, who gives a rats ass about them? Not our President, obviously.