Tag Archives: immigrants

Anti-immigrant rhetoric has been around

For as long as I can recall, the talk we hear about closing our borders to immigrants has been an ongoing topic of discussion, debate and demagoguery.

I can recall writing a column for the Beaumont Enterprise in the 1980s about those who wanted to slam the door shut on immigration. Hey, they got in, or their ancestors got into the country. Now that they were citizens of the world’s greatest nation, let’s just slam the door shut. Toss the key. Build a moat; fill it with filthy water and gators.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric isn’t uniquely American, either. Europeans from east to west, north to south have been yammering for decades about the unwashed masses pouring into their countries from, say, the Middle East. Political parties in Europe have emerged to challenge the status quo.

Let us not forget, too, that Europe gave the world the National Socialist Party — aka the Nazis. Their aim was to promote the “master race” and rid the world of people who worshiped the Jewish faith.

Today, though, the anti-immigrants have many more media weapons at their disposal to spew their rubbish. They contend that non-native-born Americans are “invading” the country, that they are going to push us native-born Americans out of the way. What nonsense. There cannot possibly be a more un-American policy than that. The government we honor today was created by individuals are the direct descendants of those who “invaded” the country in the 17th century. We are a nation built by immigrants. Thus, for our founders’ descendants to seek to ban more immigrants borders on treason … in my humble view.

Perhaps in a perverse and perverted way, that the anti-immigrant rhetoric would be gathering steam these days is merely a continuation of a scourge with which our nation has been dealing all along.


Count the ‘persons in each state’

It’s a given that Donald J. Trump doesn’t know the U.S. Constitution, the document he swore on oath to defend and protect.

With that established, let’s understand that when Trump says that census counters are not to count undocumented immigrants as part of the 2020 census, he is violating the Constitution … which he doesn’t understand.

Trump wants to limit the count of those who are living here to just citizens, actual Americans. No can do, Mr. POTUS. That 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the one that talks about equal protection under the law, has this to say about how states must be represented in Congress:

“Section 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States, according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State … “

If you look throughout the 14th Amendment, you will not find a word in it that stipulates that only citizens can be among the “whole number of persons” counted in each state. The framers threw open the counted to be “persons.” Citizens or non-citizens, documented or undocumented immigrants. They all count the same, according to the U.S. Constitution.

That is the basis for progressive groups complaining about the restrictions that Trump is seeking to place on the census takers.

This kind of ham-handedness would have an impact on Texas, which stands to gain as many as three new representatives once the census is taken. The state also is home to quite a large number of undocumented immigrants, which you know about already. Many of those immigrants happen to be “dreamers,” the folks brought here as children when their parents sneaked into the country to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

Trump is trifling with the Constitution in a way that is going to do harm to communities and to states. He must not be allowed to get away with this attempt to pilfer power from states that deserve a loud and clear voice within the halls of government.

Immigrant patriots get slimed by House GOP members

What do Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Fiona Hill and Marie Yovanovitch have in common?

Two things: They all are naturalized U.S. citizens and they all have been smeared and slimed by congressional Republicans who have questioned their loyalty to the country they chose to call their home. Moreover, they all have chosen to serve their country with distinction, valor and heroism.

They all testified over the past two weeks before the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted its inquiry hearings into whether to impeach Donald J. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors.

First up was Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who Trump recalled earlier this year, citing his prerogative as president to do what he did. He smeared the decorated envoy prior to removing her and then afterward, even while she was testifying to the House panel about what she saw and heard regarding Trump’s asking the Ukrainian government for a personal political favor.

Then we heard from Lt. Col. Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant who came to this country with his family when he was a toddler. The National Security Council adviser joined the Army and has served for two decades as an infantry officer, receiving the Purple Heart after he wounded in battle in Iraq. GOP lawmakers and their friends in the conservative media have questioned Vindman’s loyalty to the country, suggesting he was secretly more loyal to his native Ukraine than to the nation he has served heroically.

Finally, we had Fiona Hill, the British immigrant and former NSC adviser who testified this week about her concern over whether the nation was sacrificing national security for the sake of a “political errand” being run by European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland on behalf of the presidents of the United States and Ukraine. She, too, has been dismissed in some circles because she is, um, an immigrant.

These people all represent the best of this great nation. They are proud patriots who love this country deeply and have stepped forward to serve with the highest honor imaginable. They represent millions of Americans who are themselves immigrants or the direct descendants of immigrants who chose to venture many thousands of miles to build new lives.

That their loyalty would be questioned at any level by anyone is shameful on its face.

‘Poorer’ and ‘dirtier,’ eh, Tucker Carlson?

Tucker Carlson fancies himself as a provocative commentator for the Fox News cable network.

His provocativeness is now costing his employers some serious dough. Sixteen advertisers have pulled out of supporting his nightly talk show on the Fox News Channel because of some remarkably intolerant remarks he made about immigrants.

He made some anti-immigrant remarks this past week without apparently qualifying them. He wasn’t talking about illegal immigrants. I guess he meant all of them.

Hmm. Strange, don’t you think? I wonder where Carlson’s forebears came from? Were they here when the Pilgrims landed? Or when Columbus landed ashore? Or when the Vikings were terrorizing the upper east coast in the 12th century? Um, probably not.

The advertisers are hitting Fox where it hurts, in its corporate pocket book.

I am not a fan of boycotts. As a rule, I don’t believe they work.

I wonder, though, whether these advertisers are going to teach Carlson — a youngish conservative firebrand — a lesson that sticks.

Finally, as the grandson of immigrants to this country, I take huge personal offense at any suggestion that my grandparents made this country dirtier and poorer when they came here in pursuit of a better life.

What is so wrong with a ‘pathway to citizenship’?

The 2018 midterm election might be setting an unofficial record for demagogic statements and rhetoric.

One of them goes something like this: Democrats want to grant immediate citizenship to illegal aliens. Hmm. Really?

Here is what I understand is the talking point that Democrats are pitching and it has next to nothing to do with what their Republican foes keep saying about them.

They say they want to grant a “pathway to citizenship” to those who entered the United States illegally. Does that equate in any fashion to granting immediate citizenship? Not to me.

One of the most-watched Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate, Texan Beto O’Rourke, has been vilified as someone who favors “open borders,” one who says we have “too much border security” and someone who favors allowing illegal immigrants to vote.

Yes. I actually heard that last thing stated on a Fox News interview O’Rourke conducted with talking head Sean Hannity.

What I believe is the truth is that O’Rourke and other progressive candidates want is to grant a reprieve from deportation for illegal immigrants. Then he has suggested a form of screening of those immigrants, seeking to determine the reasons they are here. He and others want to allow them the chance to apply for citizenship or to seek permanent resident status.

Why, I must wonder, is that such a bad thing? Why is it preferable in the minds of many others to just round ’em up, keep ’em restrained and then deport ’em without giving them a chance to build new lives in the Land of Opportunity?

The xenophobe in chief keeps implying that every illegal immigrant is here to do harm. Yep, grandma and grandpa, along with their small grandchildren, as well as married couples have sneaked into our country to commit terrible, heinous, despicable crimes against unsuspecting Americans. That’s how the demagoguery goes.

It is untrue. It is a lie fomented by those with ghastly motives.

Do I favor “open borders”? Do I favor an absence of border security? Do I want to grant anyone permission to enter this country without the proper documentation? Of course not. Neither do politicians seeking election to important public offices.

None of that will stop the demagogues from continuing their campaign of lies.

‘The Jacket’ shrouds first lady’s actual mission

I think I’ll paraphrase a message that appeared on the back of first lady Melania Trump’s jacket … so bear with me.

I really don’t care about what it said.

What I do care about is that the first lady chose to wear this particular jacket while she was heading toward South Texas to tour a migrant camp that houses children who had been taken from their parents. The message on the back of the jacket read: “I really don’t care. Do U?”

I also care about the decidedly mixed message from Donald J. Trump’s self-proclaimed “fine-tuned machine” that runs the executive branch of government. Melania Trump’s staff said the first lady never intended to deliver a message with the jacket. Then the president himself tweeted something that said, yep, she did intend to deliver a message, which was aimed at what he calls “fake news.”

Message or no message? Which is it?

How about we hear from the first lady herself?

I am acutely aware that nothing gets done spontaneously at this level of public appearance planning. These events almost always are tightly scripted affairs. So, when the first lady is seen boarding a plane en route to South Texas wearing a jacket that sends a troubling message about whether she cares about the kids, well, then we have a problem.

The message itself isn’t all that weird. It’s the context of the first lady of the United States deciding to wear it while preparing to represent the president at an event that has gripped the nation by its throat.

If it is true — and that’s an iffy prospect, at best — that, according to the president, the first lady’s visit to McAllen was “100 percent” her call, then we need to hear directly from her.

Was she sending a “message,” or was it just an astonishingly sloppy display of ignorance about how the “optics” would play?

Talk to us, Mme. First Lady.

Was there a message in the jacket? POTUS says ‘yes’

So-o-o-o-o. It turns out first lady Melania Trump was sending a message after all with that weird jacket she wore today.

That’s according to Donald J. Trump, who wrote via Twitter:

“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!

But … wait! Mrs. Trump’s staff said she wasn’t sending a message with the jacket. She was photographed with the “I REALLY DON’T CARE … ” message on the back while she boarded an airplane bound for South Texas; the first lady made a surprise visit to an immigrant center near McAllen.

Man, I hope she lost the jacket when she visited with those who are holed up in the Rio Grande Valley awaiting disposition of their case … not to mention getting reunited with their children who the president ordered taken from their parents.

As for the media message mentioned by Donald J. Trump’s tweet, something tells me he made it up — kind of like the way the president does with most statements that fly out of his pie hole … or flutter into cyberspace.

He’s the ‘Speak English Guy’

I guess we’re calling this individual the “Speak English Guy.”

It seems he wants everyone around to speak English. He has gone on rants in public, berating those who speak another language.

He has been heard to bellow, “This is America” as a way to, um, persuade those who speak another language to communicate in English.

Hold on here! What’s this guy trying to say?

The U.S. of A. does not have an official language. Yes, the U.S. Constitution is written in English, as is the Declaration of Independence. The Federalist Papers are in written in English. President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in English, and issued the Emancipation Proclamation in the same language.

Yes, this is America, as the Speak English Guy points out. Except that America represents people from around the globe. They all come here fluent first in the language of their country of origin.

I cannot help at this moment but think of my parents. They were born in the United States; Mom was born in Portland, Ore., Dad was born in New Kensington, Pa. Their parents — all of them — were from Greece and Turkey. They all were ethnic Greeks.

My grandparents spoke Greek in their homes. English, therefore, was a “second language” to my parents. Dad once told me how he ran home crying from kindergarten because he didn’t understand what everyone was saying in the classroom.

Well, Mom and Dad learned how to speak English. Their English language skills were impeccable; Mom was especially articulate in her English-speaking skills.

But they continued to converse with each other in Greek. They both were fluent in both their languages.

I wonder what might happen if Speak English Guy would have heard Mom and Dad speaking Greek to each other. My best guess in the event this guy decided to upbraid them because they weren’t speaking English: Dad would have cold-cocked that clown.

Um, Dr. Secretary, slaves were not ‘immigrants’

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson got off to a rollicking start as head of a major federal agency by comparing slaves to your run-of-the-mill immigrants.

They came here, Dr. Carson told HUD employees, with “dreams for their sons, daughters … ” and others who would come along.

Really, he said that.

I don’t know how to react fully to what Dr. Carson said at his HUD meeting.

I have read over many years, however, about how human beings were “sold” as cargo by slave owners in Africa; they were put on ships and transported across the Atlantic Ocean, where they would be used like, oh, farm animals. They were denied every human right imaginable; indeed, they weren’t even considered to be fully “human.”

They had dreams about a better future? Is that what the new HUD secretary said?

“That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

I wish my grandparents were alive at this moment to hear these remarks. They, too, had “dreams” about forging a better life in this land of opportunity.

However, all four of them — the parents of my mother and father — came here willingly, of their own volition. They sought a new life and a safe place to rear their children.

I cannot believe that Dr. Carson would suggest — even in the remotest of terms — any kind of equivalence between those who came here as slaves and those who arrived as immigrants.

This humble immigrant became a great American


Take a look at this gentleman.

He was an immigrant to the United States of America. He grew up in southern Greece. He found his way to Pittsburgh, Pa. He got married and started family.

He worked hard. He played by the rules. He was a simple man. He had little formal education. He wasn’t destined to achieve financial wealth or become famous the way we understand the meaning of the term “famous.”

His name was Ioannis Panayotis Kanellopoulos. He shortened his last name to Kanelis; his first and middle names, translated to English, were John Peter.

He was my grandfather.

As I heard Donald J. Trump’s screed last night about immigration, one passage jumped out at me, grabbed me by the throat and damn near throttled me as I heard it.

Trump laid down some markers that legal immigrants needed to meet before they would be “selected” for entry into the United States of America.

My grandfather wouldn’t have met the standard set.

My Papou wouldn’t be welcome in a country where Donald J. Trump would serve as president.

He toiled in a steel mill in Pittsburgh. He lost his job when the Great Depression decimated the Rust Belt in the early 1930s. He and my grandmother and five of their children gravitated to Vermont, where they ran a hotel; that venture failed, too.

Papou and his family — which grew to seven children in Vermont — then moved west, to Portland, Ore.

My grandfather then shined shoes in the basement of a high-end downtown Portland department store for the rest of his working life.

Would he have been “selected”? It appeared to me, based on what I heard Trump say, he very well would have been turned away.

I wrote about it yesterday in the blog post attached below.

‘Select immigrants based on skill … ‘

Were that to happen, the United States of America would have lost a great patriot.

Donald Trump’s arrogance as it related to immigrants — illegal and legal — has disgraced the American political process.