Editor’s note:The opinions are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.
“It’s a good country, America,” my father’s best friend used to say.
“Remember, Joanne, you are lucky to be living in the greatest country in the world; a country people risk their lives to come live in,” my late father used to tell me.
And back in the day, before the current administration’s horrendous assaults upon our environment, women, education and most recently immigration, my father was right.
What absolutely galls and infuriates me about President Trump’s most recent proposal to cut in half the number of immigrants allowed to legally enter this country, and limit those immigrants to only ones who are skilled and speak English, is both historical and personal.
From an historical perspective, this proposal goes against everything our country was built upon and stands for. With the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants or descended from immigrants.
Many of our forefathers and foremothers came to this country unskilled and unable to speak English. Nevertheless, they worked hard, learned English in time and contributed to our society.
I remember back in elementary school learning about the United States of America as a “Melting Pot.”
The theory was that people came here from different countries and kind of melted into the society, both contributing their strengths and cultures, and emerged as “Americans.”
While there are some problems with this theory—and I much prefer the “Salad Bowl” analogy of America where we all bring and keep our different country of origin identities, languages and cultures, but still contribute to the overall good “salad” of America—the truth is clear that our country became great because of its openness and diversity.
In my own family, my father was the second son of two unskilled immigrants. He grew up very poor, living in a slum tenement on the lower East Side of Manhattan.
He and his brother barely had enough food to eat. He was educated in the New York City public schools and went on to attend Brooklyn College through the City University of New York (CUNY), which was free at the time.
He subsequently attended Brooklyn Law School on a GI scholarship, having been a soldier during the Korean War. The Promise of America was realized for my father, as he became a successful attorney who married a British woman (another immigrant—my mother), raised two children, bought a large and comfortable house in the suburbs and eventually sent both children to college and helped one (me) attend graduate school.
Had my grandparents and others like them not been able to enter this country because of the draconian policies being advanced by our neanderthal president and his supporters, including our Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, our country would be at a loss for these immigrants’ contributions.
My late father would never have become the respected member of the New York judiciary and I would not have become a Speech Therapist, dedicated to helping all the children whom I have the skills and experience to help—not just the ones born here to English speaking parents.
I implore Congressman Frelinghuysen to break with his approval of all the reactionary Trump-advanced policies and listen to his constituents who have voted him into office in the past and can vote him out in the future.
Among the draconian measures advanced by Donald Trump is this horrendous proposal to limit legal immigration. It must be voted down.
Joanne Summer emigrated 25 years ago from New York to Morris Township, where she and her husband have raised their children. She is a Speech Language Pathologist and the owner of Well Spoken Speech Therapy in Morristown. She traces her ancestral routes to various regions of Europe and the Middle East.