We're All Immigrants — And NOW, Immigrants With Blood On Our Hands

Photo: courtesy of the author
immigrant
Self

You can’t call yourself an American and see it any other way.

I am an immigrant. Granted, I was born in the United States. In Boston, to be exact. But I’m still an immigrant. My father was also born here, also in Boston, and is an immigrant, too. As is my mother, who was born just outside Boston proper. My sister? She’s an immigrant, too, having been born at the same hospital as me just 18 months later. 

As Americans, we’re immigrants. As an American, you’re an immigrant, too.

My French nose comes from my French father. His great-great grandfather came here from France. My disdain for authority and my rebellious side, I contribute to the fact that I’m a descendent of the first couple waves of Brits who came to America in the 1600s to escape religious persecution.

My blue eyes come from my Irish grandfather, a first generation immigrant. My fair complexion comes from my great-grandmother who came to the United States from Sweden... and married a fellow immigrant, an Irish man.

No matter what generation of immigrants these people were or the fact that their descendants were born here, they, just like me, were immigrants. I’ll say it again: We’re all immigrants. The United States is a country of immigrants and without all these immigrants, this country wouldn’t exist.

Despite being born in Boston and raised in New Hampshire, I have lived in New York City since 2004. I have traveled to over 30 countries, but I always return because there is no other place in the world like it.

Walking down the streets of New York is an experience unlike any other. Within a 10-block walk, I can pass people speaking easily half a dozen different languages — sometimes more. This is, without a doubt, beautiful.

Diversity is the fabric of this nation; something I know you’ve heard before, but I’m going to reiterate it, in case you’ve forgotten: Diversity is the fabric of this nation.

When Donald Trump — and I refuse to call him “president,” as he’s clearly an illegitimate president and undeserving of the title — signed yet another one of his ignorant executive orders this past weekend, he did a tremendous disservice to the world. In being “one of the most powerful countries in the world,” as American politicians love to boast, to sign such an order, one that is steeped in such hatred, is wrong.

It’s wrong because it’s not what America is about and it’s wrong because it’s a slap in the face to every immigrant who has ever come to this country, by boat or plane or foot, for a better life, to live the American dream. However, the American dream is dying; it dies a little more as long as we have a racist and xenophobe sitting in the White House with the Nazi Steve Bannon as his Svengali, confirming that hate and white supremacy is right.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

These are the words on the Statue of Liberty. The statue was a gift from France. It was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and was built by Gustave Eiffel — yes, that Eiffel guy. It was given to us not just to unite the countries but to celebrate the end of the Civil War, which also meant the end of slavery. Something the French, like the North, felt paramount to the progression and evolution of the United States.

In fact, one of the many inspirations behind the statue was Libertas, the goddess of freedom, who was worshipped in ancient Rome, most notably by emancipated slaves. Liberty is freedom.

But to turn away a specific group of people who are searching for freedom is the exact opposite for which the Statue of Liberty stands.

To turn refugees away at the door of this country, people whose lives are critically in danger if they’re forced to return to their home, is a catastrophe. No matter what Trump tries to tell you, THIS IS A MUSLIM BAN. This is the very definition of racism, xenophobia, white supremacy, and above all, ignorance — a fact that was further proven when it was announced that Christians from the seven currently banned countries would be given priority.

Timothy McVeigh was a white Christian American. He was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which resulted in the murder of 168 people, with hundreds of others seriously injured. Adam Lanza was a white American who murdered 26 people during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 — 20 of those murdered were children between six and seven years of age. Dylann Roof, an American and noted white supremacist, murdered nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June of 2015.

You want to know how many Americans have been killed by Muslim terrorists? TWENTY-FOUR — IN THE LAST DECADE.

No one is saying that there aren’t bad people in the world. No one is saying that what happened in New York on September 11, 2001, or in Paris on November 13, 2015, or in Istanbul this past New Year’s Eve isn’t a horrifying. But common sense tells you that there are f*cked up people whose only purpose is to do harm everywhere: they’re in every religion, they’re every color, and there’s no one ethnic group that’s more violent than any other.

To ban a specific group of people because of their religion and the color of their skin is a blemish on our country. It doesn’t make America stronger or better; it makes us weak. It makes us an embarrassment. It takes everything for which we’re supposed to take pride in, as a nation, and throws it out the window.

It rips us of our status of being a country of immigrants, a status we don't want taken away from us, because, as I said, we’re all immigrants.

On Sunday night, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette entered a mosque in Quebec City. He murdered six Muslims and wounded eight more. From all over the world, there was an outpouring of empathy, as condolences were given to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has championed accepting refugees, as well as to all of Canada.

But during all of this Donald Trump has remained silent. At this time, he has still extended zero condolences or even addressed it. Why? Because those who were murdered were Muslim. We are, after all, talking about a cretin who not only ignored the Jewish community when he released a statement about Holocaust Remembrance Day, but then turned around and signed an executive order to ban refugees — a slap in the face to everyone who was lost in the Holocaust and those who were fortunate enough to survive.

In 1939, between May and June, 900 Jewish refugees tried to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. When their boat reached the U.S., it was sent back to Europe. Of those 900, 254 are known to have died in the Holocaust. The United States could have saved them, but chose not to. Instead, the U.S. marched them toward their death and ended up with blood on their hands.

And yet, despite this fact, despite this being our history, we’re doing it all over again. We’re going to end up with more blood on our hands.

It doesn’t matter if you were granted asylum five years ago, moved here 10 years ago because it was your dream to live in the States or if you, like me, are the descendant of people who came to seek a better life generations ago. You are an immigrant.

We are all immigrants. You can’t call yourself an American and see it any other way.

And, if you can see it any other way, then buy some soap and lots of it. For every refugee who is sent back or not allowed in this country who dies at the hands of Trump and Bannon’s racism, you’ll have their blood on your hands, too. And blood, in case you’re unaware, stains.

I am an immigrant. So are you. 

 

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