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home : lifestyle : putnam   May 24, 2016

2/18/2013 10:29:00 AM
Immigration reform hits close to home

Nancy Dinelli-Prill

Immigration — Give Me Your Tired and Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning To Breath Free.
With those words a place called Ellis Island was founded. A place that took the tired and the poor, humble masses wanting to be free.
But today? Today, we do nothing but bicker about a neighboring country who’s “tired and poor” just want to make a living and be free.
So, I’ve got the hair on the back of your neck standing up straight and your face turning red, and you’re screaming at me saying they are a bunch of outlaws.
Wait a minute, you’re screaming at a person whose mother, grandparents and other relatives were in the bellies of those ships that crossed the ocean. Ships with bellies full of people vomiting, filthy dirty, in conditions that weren’t fit for a load of livestock, sea sickness and disease.
Why? “I’m tired and I’m poor. I’m part of the huddled masses who want to be breath free, help me please.” Then they left the ships and went to find work in coal mines deep underground where no one else would go. They took other backbreaking jobs that a U.S. citizen wouldn’t think of taking. Backbreaking jobs, some out in the sun for hours and being treated no better than the mules that carried them to the fields.
Our forefathers knew we needed these people. Yes, some were sent back to where they came from, some turned into crooks, some turned into political crooks — hiding behind a title, and from that time this country has taken the good with the bad.
I get so angry when I hear the discriminative talk against the Hispanic people, but you know what, I probably feel for them because I’ve been there.
I lived in a time when they said the Italians or the Jews or the Irish were going to invade and take over the prestige North Shore of Chicago. There were seven kids in our family and we were newcomers. As a child, people would question me about our large family, so different from the rest who had only one or two kids.
We were called by the slang name for Italians, as were the rest of the immigrants or their children.
Here then is what I don’t understand. Set up an “Ellis Island” type border. Welcome these people to come and work, pay taxes and help to further improve this country.
Give their children a good education so they can get good jobs and won’t have to deal in crime.
Have you forgotten the crime that was brought and went through Ellis Island.
Let me tell you one other thing. These people are needed in the world of agriculture. Is one of your kids going to break their back picking beans or cabbage or other vegetables for pennies on the dollar? Are your kids or grandkids going to work milking cows on the dairy farms? Farming isn’t the only places these people end up working, but to be in some of these factories or coal mines would be killing for me.
Do some reading. A couple of years ago, Jerry, one of our subscribers, sent me the book “Elizabeth Street” by Laurie Fabiano which tells of their struggles as immigrants from Italy.
My winter reading is, “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor. “The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.” (Taken from the inside jacket)
There are many stories out there with wonderful tales of determination, improvement and giving to this country.
Leaders should be able to figure out a way to deal with the problem that faces us on our border. No, of course it won’t be easy and yes, you will face crime and corruption, but none of that is new to the United States of America which is evident by the trail of our governors of Illinois.
I write this as a child of an immigrant and understand.
Therefore, while we are talking about farming, thanks to the Chrysler Co. and their Dodge commercial, “And God Made A Farmer,” seen during the Super Bowl. Ciao!

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