For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
– Mark 25: 35-40
Have I ever mentioned that I am the descendant of illegal immigrants? Yup. When my grandfather and his brother immigrated here from The Netherlands they were supposed to each have $20 in their pockets to get into the country. They only had one $20 bill between them – so when they passed through the line at Ellis Island the first one held up the $20 bill and then under-passed it to the one behind him who, in turn, held up the same bill. Those two hooligans should never have been allowed in this country. And, I shouldn’t really be here, either, I guess. Or half of me shouldn’t. Half of me should probably be shipped back to Amsterdam, home of my hooligan grampa.
That might be kind of messy, though. And I’m not sure how, exactly, they’d decide which half of me to send back.
My other half is descended from people who immigrated from a German colony along the Volga River in Russia. And also Basque reptile aliens. I’m pretty sure. (My mom has rh negative blood which – according to highly scientific research I googled – seems to indicate she has a Basque reptile alien somewhere in her background. Yeah. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this.)
We are all immigrants in the United States, aren’t we? I mean, human life did not start here – everyone immigrated from somewhere else. It’s believed the first immigrants crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia to Alaska and then worked their way down through North and South America. Then came the Vikings, Columbus, the Mayflower, the Dutch, Spanish, and French, Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, slaves from Africa, the Irish and Chinese, the Japanese, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, refugees from southeast Asia, immigrants from India and the Middle East… and all of these immigrants – with the exception of those who were forced here on slave ships from Africa – have one very important thing in common: They came here in search of a better life.
Are the newest immigrants to our country really so much different than the first immigrants? The newest immigrants, too, are looking for a better life for themselves and their families – looking for work, education, religious and political freedom.
Why would any of us – descendants of immigrants ourselves – want to deny others the same opportunities we and our ancestors had?
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
– Emma Lazarus