“Immigration is not just a link to America’s past… it is a bridge to its future” - George W. Bush
Thank you for watching. This song is based on my own grandfather’s immigration story. If the attitudes that exist now toward immigrants and refugees existed when he made his solo journey, at the age of 13, from Eastern Europe in 1907, my family, and many of yours, would not be proud Americans today. What would this country look like without the waves of immigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries? They came from Ireland, Italy, Germany, Cuba, Japan, China, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Vietnam and Korea, and many, many other countries. Among them were Jews, Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists. It is those immigrants and the generations that followed that have made this country the greatest on Earth.
I am outraged by the anti-immigrant rhetoric, and policies, emanating from the White House and being echoed by select members of Congress and a subset of our population. All of them descended from immigrants themselves. I’m horrified by the fact that, as a nation, the United States has turned its back on refugees fleeing atrocious war and violence The vilification of migrants and the cruel separation of families along the southern U.S. border, as well as the families being torn apart because of by unjust deportations is unconscionable. I believe with all my heart that the immigration debate has been hijacked by the most virulent and hate filled voices in our country. There is not a crisis. It is a set of complicated problems that need to be solved using a rational, evidence based and multi-pronged approach. It starts with telling the truth.
After setting off for America with their hopes and dreams for a better life, immigrants built this great nation. From the fields, to the mines, to the great dams, the construction of our roads, bridges and cities; they participated and continue to participate in every walk of life. They are our doctors, lawyers, teachers, home health aides, farm workers, caretakers and on and on. They are our friends and neighbors, and their children will be a part of our next great generation of dreamers. It is time for meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform.
Please watch and share the video – and, if you’re so inclined, learn more about the great work of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and RAICES Texas. These organizations are on the front lines, directly helping immigrants and refugees as well as empowering immigration law practitioners and immigrant rights advocates through policy and advocacy work, civic engagement, and capacity building.
You can also donate to the ILRC right on this page.
Lastly – please share the video. To paraphrase the great Peter Yarrow… Every share “re-confirms our commitment to pursuing our collective dreams for a fairer and more just society… and is yet another act of creating greater hope and peace in the world.”
Roger Street Friedman