Parable of an Immigrant Part 4

Listen to the audio recording of this Blog post:

Parable of an Immigrant Part 4

There is not a place to which the Christian can withdraw from the world, whether it be outwardly or in the sphere of the inner life. Any attempt to escape from the world must sooner or later be paid for with a sinful surrender to the world. Dietrich Bonheoffer Ethics

Why Citizenship and Legal Residency are Important

An immediate, and historically appropriate response to the question of immigration is the reference to the development of the United States.  The colonization from the European discovery of the land in 1492 up until the present era has been largely in part to immigrants from every continent (Antarctica stilling withstanding I believe).

It is a wonderful story and so much of current “American” culture is a mix of many different ethnicities. I have been challenged while living out of the U.S. when asked what a “Typical American” is.  One time, one of our youth wanted to know what a “Typical American girl” looks like.  I really couldn’t answer, because in any given town it is tough enough, but try to picture a Southern California, beach going teen, a young girl in Detroit Michigan, Kansas City, New York City, and Miami Beach…you get the picture…it really is not possible to put your finger on the U.S. “typical” person.

This is a valid point, but often lacks a telling of the entire story.  The American Story, at least from the time of the colonization, has been, obviously a story of immigration, of people willing to count the cost and risk it all on a better life, whether for economic purposes, for religious freedom, putting a shameful past far behind, or for the glory and honor of a military campaign.  America has consistently been built on the backs of heroic, if unsung heroes, and those insatiable risk takers.

My personal desire (if I had any political pull) would be to make a clean, streamlined path to citizenship and as quickly as possible, preferable yesterday!  The pathway to citizenship brings with it definite challenges, but creates citizens who are educated in where they are calling their new home, which in turn will bring stability and ultimately blessing to the nation of the United States.

This point was taken on in Maryland, to the surprise of those pushing for a “Sanctuary State” by an unlikely group…immigrants from various ethnicities.  Below is the link to an article from the New York Times as well as some excerpts from May 2017.

Immigrants oppose making Maryland a Sanctuary State:

See Stanley Salazar from El Salvador

Here are a couple of excerpts from the interviews from Mr. Ma, a Chinese immigrant and Mr. Salazar from El Salvador.

From the age of 9, Mr. Ma was pushed to learn English by his mother. “Study harder,” she told him. “Score higher.” At 12, he won entry into a highly selective boarding school where he toiled for 13 hours a day.  Mr. Ma sees his whole life as a struggle to achieve his Americanness.

Today, Mr. Ma, 45, is a patent attorney, living in a stately home in Clarksville, Md., after years of study at universities in New York, Utah and Virginia and a first career as a software engineer. His wife, also a Chinese immigrant, works for the National Weather Service. Two-thirds of their daughter’s second-grade classmates have parents from China or India.

Mr. Ma (from the article) “Being in America is such a high privilege,” he said, sitting in his brightly painted kitchen. “As an immigrant I really feel it.” He added: “You cannot easily give that privilege to somebody without going through some kind of process. It’s like giving lots of gold for one dollar.”


 Mr. Salazar (El Salvador) thinks sanctuary would be bad for Maryland. He bases this on what has already happened in Montgomery County, where he has been part of a Hispanic population boom.

The Salvadoran gang MS-13 has gained strength in the area recently, the authorities say, partly because of an influx of undocumented children arriving without their parents. The young arrivals are more susceptible to recruitment by gangs.

Mr. Salazar sees the statistics: At least 16 homicides in the county have been attributed to gangs since June 2015. About half have been linked to MS-13, including the killing of a 15-year-old girl in Gaithersburg.

“I have three daughters right now and I’m thinking about them,” Mr. Salazar said, sipping a milkshake at a Burger King in Gaithersburg. “Don’t I have the right to be afraid that this kind of stuff is increasing?”

A second interesting journey is down the Ellis Island excursion.  When you have the time, it is fascinating to listen to actual interviews from immigrants who came through Ellis Island recount their journey.  This gives such an inspiring look into the courage and challenges immigrants faced and how they were able to start their new life in the United States.  Follow the link below to listen to some of these remarkable stories archived by the National Park Service.

Stories from Ellis Island:

In the following website, the National Park Service has compiled oral and written stories of immigrants who came through Ellis Island.

If you don’t have a good amount of time to look, or rather listen through these archives, here is a page of excerpts:

Three examples I enjoyed were:

Birtitta Hedman Fichter from Sweden remembering starting school:

I turned seven after we got here and here children were starting at the age of five in kindergarten, so at age seven they put me in the first grade, which was kind of dumb because I didn’t know the language and, I didn’t know “yes” and “no.” That’s how bad it was. I just sat there and every time the teacher even looked at me I would start to cry because I was afraid she was going to say something and I didn’t know what, what she was saying. 

William Greiner from Italy remembers the Storm during the ship passage:

The great waves would smash, the noise tremendous, and I thought we would flounder at any moment. They posted Morse Code, messages received from other ships in the ocean, sending “S.O.S. We are floundering!” and so on, “Help!” and the captain let us know that he couldn’t get out of the way. 

Charles Beller (Kalman Bilchick) from Russia remembers retaining their Jewish traditions after immigrating:

My father would want us to go to synagogue on the high holy days; and I always went with him. The other boys, they strayed away from the religious part of it. But I always went with him on every high holiday and the like. I went to Hebrew school. I had the rabbi come to the house for awhile.

Next week I want to tip many of the fear-based, arguments against immigration on their head with an amazing author Joseph Castleberry, discussing how the immigrant population, in contrast to being seen as a threat, could actually be the renewal that the United States needs to some of it’s social declines and alarming trends…tune in next week.


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