Bienvenido a los Estados Unidos. Welcome. Wrote Emma Lazarus, “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” With the image of caged children seared in our brains, it’s time to reflect. We are a restless species and every one of us, or our ancestors, came here from somewhere else. I’m not atypical. Part potato famine Irish and French-Canadian recruited for New England mills. An Acadian great grandmother whose family, French and American Indian, settled in Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy, evicted by the British in a forgotten diaspora. Canada Waite, born in Indian captivity. John Howland, who fell off the Mayflower. Scots, Welshmen, Dutchmen, Basque. Oppression, opportunity, fate drove or enticed them all here. Kids in kennels? There but for the grace of God.
Here’s a different look. You may have missed an adjunct to Suffield on the Green at the Congregational Church. My daughter Amy and my new son-in-law, Alejo, Colombian, and citizen of Canada, married in an exciting and ecumenical Catholic/Protestant ceremony by Father Jette and Reverend Bailey. The airlines owe us, as guests flew in from as far as China, Dubai, Brussels, London, and Bogotá. Argentinians. Brazilians. Luxemburgish! “destination” wedding someone exclaimed. A multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, extraordinary group, lawyers, doctors, retired diplomats. Alejo’s brother Fernando and his Montreal posse in our kitchen cooked up a storm. ¿Hablas Espanol? Parlez-vous francais? We spoke with my older daughter Liz, FaceTime from Istanbul. “Sen Turkce konusmayi biliyor musun?” (Speak Turkish?) My granddaughter Leyla does. What a group, disco ’til the wee hours, Salsa, a Conga line, the Macarena! Maravilloso! Good stuff.
So, when they write about immigrants, when they tell us we need a wall, when they levy new tariffs or want to divide us because “we are different”? Those immigrants? They are us.