Ms. Guerrero, Please Sit Down and Listen

Your justification of what your parents did is nauseating at minimum and only G-d knows what at worst. Your friend Paul’s justification is just as bad or perhaps even worse. What a shame that you would justify that your parents put your family and even you in danger.

I’m not just judging you to simply and pompously pontificate. I’m telling you that I know that your denial of what your parents did is insulting and dangerous, and “I know” means “I know”—I’m among the kind of people to whom your denial is most insulting and for whom it is most dangerous.

You were indeed “lucky”, able to stay in some form of contact with your parents to some extent, and privileged to get to where you are today despite where you were back then. My kind of people didn’t and don’t have that luck, and whether we’re even lucky to be where we are is questionable.

My kind of people are the descendants of illegal immigrants who came from places in times that were worse than FARC-riddled Colombia at the time in which your family escaped it. My subgroup among my kind of people are the descendants of German-, Russian-, and Austrian-Hungarian Jewish illegal immigrants (Traditional, Messianic/Nazarene, Crypto, and otherwise Jewish).

Compared to what we and our families have gone through, you and your family have gone through nothing. You’ve never had to think about what would’ve happened had your family been caught residing illegally in the United States and found out to be Jews (let alone Jewish illegal immigrants). You’ve never had to wonder what would’ve been the fates of your illegal-immigrant ancestors (let alone the fates of even their American-born children) if they had been deported to only-nominally-tolerant Austria Hungary, pogrom-riddled Russia, and/or could’ve-been-“Judenrein” Germany. You’ve never had to thank God that having at least one legal immigrant or citizen among your ancestors was the only factor that was keeping your illegal-immigrant ancestors and their families here.

We children, grandchildren, and great-however-many-times-grandchildren of the aforementioned Jewish illegals have had to do that. In my own case, I was lucky that:

  1. Mihál Gajdosz was married to illegal immigrant Katarina Uszinskyová, who posed as Maria Uscianski to get into the United States at the Port of Philadelphia (I’m not saying that Great-Great-Granddad Gaydos didn’t lie on other records. He did, and that could’ve gotten him deported. He at least came here legally, at least initially.).
  2. Their son Michael married Mary Rusnak, a daughter of legal immigrants Andrew and Julia Fosko Rusnak. The only lies that Andrew and Julia ever told were on their marriage license, and the lies were about their birthdates (Incidentally, Andrew did tell more lies later, though that is another discussion.).
  3. Their daughter Joan married John Czarnecki, the son of illegal immigrant Anthony Czarnecki.
  4. Anthony Czarnecki’s parents, especially Julian Czarnecki, were never caught in their lies. Anthony would be deported back to the pogrom-riddled Lipsk nad Biebrzą that he hardly knew before his parents converted themselves and him to Crypto-Jewish Polish Catholicism (and he came here when he was three years old).
  5. Anthony was naturalized (albe under false pretenses) and able to marry Mary Trudnak, the daughter of legal immigrants Mihály and Anna Amalia Munková Trudnyak (Incidentally, I’m a little unclear as to whether the manifest-record scribe was trying to change Mihály the Elder’s age to 50 or 51, since he was born in April of 1845. I do not want to blame Mihály the Elder for what blame is not due on his part.).
  6. The link that held the chain together and kept all of my ancestors here were the Rusnak couple (and maybe Mihály Trudnyak the Elder).

Had not even one, let alone two, of my ancestors been by-all-standards-legal immigrants, I wouldn’t even have been born. As for them themselves, they might’ve been additional pogrom victims or even revictimized victims. They may’ve even been Holocaust victims (The Rusznaks and Great-Granddad Czarnecki’s maternal family, for example, are known to have lost relatives in the Holocaust. So are the Trudnyaks.).

As for their American-born children? What would the 14th Amendment have mattered (In fact, there are still nasty people who want to apply the 14th Amendment to, they claim, only American-born children of legal immigrants and U.S. Citizens.)? They weren’t WASPs (and I can guarantee that only WASP children are the American-born children of legal immigrants and U.S. Citizens to whom the legal-immigrants-and-citizens-only camp want to apply the 14th Amendment.).

In conclusion and sum, Ms. Guerrero, sit down and think of what you have just heard me recount; and think of all the other descendants of Jewish illegal immigrants, as well as their Michaels, Joans, Johns, Anthonys, and Marys. Whenever you think of them, also remember that you could’ve been a Colombian similarity to any one of them, especially had you been born in the Early 1900s and not the Late 1900s (I say “similarity”, by the way, because I will not call you a could’ve-been-equivalent when the Imperial Europe from which my ancestors escaped was far worse than Colombia was in both their time and your parents’ time.).

Then rethink about your parents’ behavior, and see if you can justify it then.

About the Author
Born in the Diaspora in 1990, Nicole Czarnecki didn’t even know that she’s Jewish until about 2008. As a Jewish Christian and an aspiring olah with more of a history than she ever knew and hope for a future of which she can't even begin to dream, she aspires to help others learn from their histories and build hopeful futures for everyone whom aspires to pursue tzedek and tikkun ha’olam.