“We live in the age of the refugee, the age of the exile.” Ariel Dorfman (Argentine-Chilean playwright, academic and human rights activist) By Satsita Muradova If someone asked me what was the most difficult decision I have made in my lifetime, I would respond – seeking asylum in the United States. I know from personal experience that no one would leave their country of origin, their home, loved ones (often without a chance of seeing them again) and the life that they were accustomed to unless that place had become a living hell.
“It is said that the quality of recent immigration is undesirable. The time is quite within recent memory when the same thing was said of immigrants who, with their descendants, are now numbered among our best citizens.” President Grover Cleveland, 1897 Today, it can be easy to forget that Germans were once derided for not speaking English, the Irish were resented for being Catholic, and that Eastern Europeans were considered inferior to “real” white people.
It was less than 100 years ago that “No Irish Need Apply” signs were in job windows. Today, the Irish are thoroughly assimilated into the mainstream of American culture and St. Patrick’s day is a great day to remember the contributions of Irish-Americans to the U.S. Anyone who knows me knows that two things I care about immensely are immigration and the U.S. Civil War. When those topics come together, I am in nerd heaven.
Let’s start here: Donald Trump is an abomination. From his slander of Mexicans as rapists to the violence he incites and tolerates at his rallies to his latest outrages of suggesting a database and a ban on admission of Muslims to the United States, there is no public figure more odious or contemptible than Donald Trump. And he is a danger. He incites people to violence, encourages hate and discrimination, and generally contributes to the dumbing down of our culture.
For the last few years, La Santa Cecilia, a Mexican-American band, based in Los Angeles, California, has not only made excellent music, but has also championed the plight on undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Their 2013 song “Hielo” told the stories of intertwined lives in the immigrant community. The video for Hielo included many undocumented immigrant activists including Erika Andiola and her nearly-deported mother. When La Santa Cecilia won a Grammy, they dedicated it to undocumented workers in the U.S.
Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. My husband and I like to spend it with friends and “America’s Favorite Pastime” at Nationals Park. After the ballgame comes more time with friends and family, grilling and a table full of food, juicy watermelon, red, white, and blue décor galore, laughter, and celebration of our country and our great fortune to be a part of it.
On this President’s Day, we wish to add a historical perspective to the robust exercise of executive authority. The President routinely tells audiences that he does not have the power to act unilaterally on immigration reform. Frustration and anger have mounted as the toll from deportations rises, and the lost opportunities due to the lack of immigration reform are compiled. The President’s claim of impotency is in direct conflict with how the right wing of the GOP (is there another wing?) sees the President.
Coca-Cola had a beautiful advertisement during the Super Bowl. The ad featured America the Beautiful sung in a variety of languages by Americans of all different ethnicities. It is easy to be jaded and cynical in that this was an attempt to sell one of the more unhealthy products we have created. However, in the current political climate and the debates raging on immigration, identity, diversity and multiculturalism, the Coke ad showed that one of the most successful companies on the planet has cast its lot with a multicultural and inclusive America.
As accolades from world leaders pour in to remember Nelson Mandela, it is hard to recall that for decades, much of the world accepted the apartheid South African government’s designation of Mandela as a terrorist. It would be tempting to write that designation off as a relic of the Cold War, unfit for these modern times. Yet, it was not until 2008 when Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress were removed from the U.S.