The decisions of past immigrants

To the Editor:

I cannot begin to imagine the desperation that has caused so many Europeans to flee their countries. They endured the overseas trip on ships to a foreign destination where everything they had known, language, customs, and food would be different. They gave it up because they saw no hope in their country. They left because of new hope and faith that somehow it might be better in America.

They heard it was a place where a new concept of life was working. It was called democracy, and it was based on equality and that anyone can pursue a life with liberty to find happiness. No longer a dictatorship, no longer a kingdom, no longer a class society where only some are educated, or some are chosen for wealth. They craved to have respect for their personal worth and not be bullied or preyed upon or left with no future.

Over many years we have taken in thousands of immigrants through Ellis Island and many other ports on the East Coast. We even imported Asians on the West Coast and used them build railroads. I say “used them,” because they were barely above the status of slave. Our country has absorbed German, Hungarian, Polish, Cuban, Vietnamese and other refugees over many decades, and yet this country survives. Furthermore, we thrive. Our culture, food and character are vibrant because of what has been added by each nationality.

Our president sounds like the American Indians who did not want others to take possession of their lands. He forgets he comes here from immigrant families. He overlooks that his wife is an immigrant. Has he asked her why she chose to leave her country?

The influx at our Southern borders are people. They are urgently desperate because of life-or-death conditions. People who will risk their lives and their precious children because no one seems to be able to make their own country a place to live in peace.

If you had to make that choice, would you move or stay? Can you now understand the word “empathy”? Do you see the need for asylum?

We still have a big country. We are still able to make new citizens and utilize their skills as we were in the years of the European immigrants. We need to practice what “e pluribus unum” means to this nation, “out of many, one”.

Our Statue of Liberty weeps for immigrants seeking to be Americans.

John Rehder

The writer lives in Ridgeway.

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