My Ancestors Came from Shitholes

Whether or not the president said shitholes isn’t on the agenda here today.

My ancestors came from shitholes. They were escaping the terrible conditions they faced. They wanted a better life. There’s no difference between my ancestors escaping from the pogroms of Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the Latin Americans escaping gangs of thugs in their homelands. None.

Immigration is a cornerstone of the United States. Unless you identify as an Indigenous American (any of the native tribes who were here long before any colonial power – but that’s another blog post) you are descended from immigrants.

Modern immigration to the United States is driven by the same forces that drove our ancestors. Shitty conditions in the countries they come from. No work. No help from governments that are corrupt or broke or both. Haiti has endured major catastrophes – earthquakes, hurricanes, corrupt governments. Haitians need a way to create better for themselves and their families. To come to the United States and be allowed to go to school, to work and save and maybe send some money back to relatives who cannot or will not come here, that is their American Dream.

My ancestors escaped from conditions that to them were intolerable. They wanted to practice their religion, and were restricted from doing so unless they lived in the shtetls and ghettos. There weren’t jobs outside these areas they could get.  Violence against these people was quietly sanctioned. My ancestors watched members of their family be killed. In order to survive, they left their homeland. They came here.

What is so different about people from Guatemala coming here to escape bands of thugs demanding money or lives? I don’t see much difference.

When my ancestors came here they were greeted by Lady Liberty and the poem enshrined on her base. They worked hard. Their children and grandchildren are today American citizens. Today’s immigrant will have children and grandchildren who will be the same. We need to give these people the same opportunities our ancestors had.


One thought on “My Ancestors Came from Shitholes

  1. My ancestors fled Germany after the attempts at democratizing Europe of the 1830s and 1840s failed. At that time, America was the country the protesters wanted to be more like. Now, America has relinquished it’s right to claim any high ground and newspapers call Angela Merkel the “Leader of the Free World” openly instead of, God forbid, our President…

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