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Regarding President Trump’s May 16 immigration proposal
He emphasized “border security” and “attracting the best and the brightest” as key elements. One wonders how past immigrants might have fared under such a proposal.
Germans got here pretty early in the 1800s and were mostly farmers and ordinary unskilled workers. Many settled in PA, which (physically) is cannily similar to southern Germany. Most of the Irish immigrants were fleeing starvation during the Irish Potato Famine and began arriving in the 1850s. As you may know, they famously worked the mines and railroads, but less famously were also conscripted into the Union Army to fight in the Civil War.
Most Jews and Italians arrived in the later part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. These people were mostly farmers or peasants and arrived here with little or nothing but their bright hopes, great determination and strong backs.
Generally, against prejudice and intolerance, these previous “caravans” of humanity contributed mightily to the growth and development of our country. There was no assessment of “best and brightest” for entry and neither were families separated nor incarcerated (caged).
Immigrants have always brought their hopes, hard work and vitality to our country, and a poorly conceived immigration plan or no plan at all misses the opportunity to grow our economy and provide an example for the world of how to be firm but fair to all political sides and protagonists on this thorny issue. We need an honest unfettered policy discussion about immigration, not political fear mongering. When can we begin that discussion?