To the Editor:
There are immigrant waves at our borders. People politically oppressed by their governments, starving, fearful for the safety of their families, lacking access to opportunity. They’ve traveled thousands of miles under harsh conditions to reach America, hoping to partake in the bounty of our rich nation.
But when they cross our borders, they face derision from native-born Americans, common practices and attitudes that punish them for their religious identities, policies that deny them basic human needs such as shelter and health care, major political parties with platforms centered on kicking them out of America, and generally hatred at every turn. All because they want the opportunities that we as Americans already have. They enter our great nation with a leap of faith that we will be decent people, who will recognize that our privilege wasn’t earned, but given to us at birth, that we owe a debt to our fellow human beings for that privilege, and that eventually we will welcome them as fellow Americans. But we don’t, and they struggle, needlessly.
What I’ve described above is not today’s headlines. I recounted, in present tense, the story of the wave of immigration to the U.S. in the 19th century. The political oppression I describe is that of the Church and government of England. The starvation, caused by a potato famine. And the political party was the Know Nothing Party, which later changed its name to the American Party out of jingoism. The hated immigrants were the Irish.
Did you think I was talking about caravans from Central America presently at our border? Maybe Syrian refugees? Did you think I was talking about the right wing of the current Republican Party and our president when referencing anti-immigrant political parties? Good. History is a mirror into which we should look frequently.
We’ve had 10 presidents with Irish ancestry. People with Irish heritage run our major corporations, minister in our churches, legislate in our congress, govern our states, serve in our military and teach our children. Imagine what today’s Latino, African, Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants can do for our country, if we welcome them.
White Christian American citizens, stop hating, fearing and oppressing people for trying to have what you were born with. Stop claiming that welcoming policies make America less than great. Create a path to citizenship. Welcome refugees and dreamers. Share our privilege. And remember, God will judge us.
Clyde “Scott” Campbell