Several generations ago, Irish people on my mother's side of the family left a potato famine and ended up in Pennsylvania, working in the coal mines.
Germans from my dad's family left Europe and arrived in Chicago, taking jobs in the stockyards on the South Side. My dad's father worked his entire life as a butcher at the Jewel Tea grocery chain.
The time they arrived at Ellis Island was an 19th Century era when immigrants were welcomed, although there was a great deal of prejudice and stereotyping.
My antecedents worked in jobs that were physically demanding, sort of like what goes on today in this country with farm workers, among others.
I had the good fortune to attend a great college and fantastic graduate school program. As have many others from other countries who come here to the States because of the excellent higher education that is not readily available in many other parts of the world. At least for now. (More to come on another blog about that!)
I look around our community. We have so many people who are the equivalent to what my predecessors did, hard physical, low paying work. We also have the equivalent of what I personally experienced, very smart highly educated people who are not US citizens, and are creating great new businesses and jobs here in Silicon Valley.
Too many hard working people here who are not American citizens, and keep our economy vital, spend too much time looking over their shoulders about their "illegal" status. Getting Visas, dealing with what I perceive to be a bureaucracy that views anyone without a green card or passport a threat to the country's security.
I am encouraged that there appears to be some light about this issue in DC. Perhaps the farmers in Alabama will get their workers back. Perhaps rogue Sheriffs in certain states will back off from what I perceive to be a huge waste of their time. Perhaps the likes of Russian born Sergi Brin of Google fame will be the rule, not the exception.
People from other countries have for a long time contributed tremendously to our country's prosperity. I hope the breakthrough around immigration policies reflect our Ellis Island heritage, and the understanding of the contributions people who live in this country, regard less of citizenry,