Riddle: What do Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Egypt, Cape Town, Korea, Sierra Leone, Pakistan and the Congo all have in common?
Answer: These countries provide the people who work in professions and affiliated jobs small and great in America’s workforce.
During a recent hospitalization, I became keenly aware of just how important our immigration policies are that affect the lives of millions of people worldwide. It is pointless to argue that they do not serve a vital arm of our global economy. They certainly do. Why did they decide to come to America? Because they are a microcosm of events occurring worldwide from wars and famine to economic and political upheavals.
Are these people taking jobs away from “real Americans” as the Republicans like to allege? No, they do not because according to our current leader, there are millions of jobs available for hard-working people nationwide. These individuals may start out at the bottom of the economic rung on the ladders to success, but they study, they educate themselves, they learn English, they raise themselves and their families to respect our institutions and more importantly, to want to help our country continue to grow so that others may follow in their footsteps.
At the dawn of the previous century, American officials tried various means to restrict immigration from places which they found “undesirable” such as Eastern Europe, Ireland and Russia. Largely, this was due to racism, as in the case of Eastern Europe, of whom the vast majority of immigrants were Jews attempting to excape the anti-Semitism of their homelands. These attitudes persisted over the years, culminating in the incarceration of law-abiding Japanese-Americans in concentration camps for fear they were double agents serving Japan. One reason given? That Japanese-American farmers who dug their gardens in circles to provide equal nutrients, light and water were actually giving secret coded signals to Japanese submarines parked offshore of California. I am not making that up. I found that gem in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. where all historians make their chops. Where did this paranoia originate? With the War Office and the Attorney General of the United States.
Whereas it is quite true that the founding colonies of our nation carried their racial prejudices with them “across the pond” and the decimation of native humans found on these shores were their first accomplishment, it is also true that the attitudes of racist whites from 400 years ago still prevail in the halls of Congress today. If you want to see some of the dumbest human beings alive, make sure not to miss speeches given in Congress by Peter King or Louis Gohmert or even our sitting President. You will not be disappointed.
Sadly, racism is always the source guiding immigration policy in any given Administration. No one will admit it, but it is a fact of life like paying taxes. The problem, of course, is that restricting suffering human beings from entering the U.S. to aid our economy and their own futures is a double-edged sword for narrow-minded people. But do you want to empty bedpans at your local medical center or cook hundreds of thousands of meals for ill patients? Then keep your racist opinions to yourself and don’t make them government policy. Our economy is not the only thing that suffers if these individuals are banned from our shores. Our collective soul will similarly suffer permanent damage for denying others from enjoying what our ancesters gave us—namely: a safe homeland where we could thrive and contribute to the national good.