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Day without Immigrants

Today is supposed to be a Day Without Immigrants; I don’t know if enough people participated to make it a Big Deal. I think this sort of thing makes a better thought experiment than an actual strike, but heck, try different things, right?

I have mentioned a couple of times that three of my grandparents were not just immigrants but illegal immigrants, smuggled across the border in violation of the law. My father’s parents were from Poland—his mother’s brothers were the first to come over, and sent for her, and then for the fellow she was sweet on from the Old Country. Illegals, all. Amnesty made them citizens, after the war. Not refugees, mind you. They were looking for the goldene medina, the golden land, in which they could make a living. Actually, my grandfather was just looking for my grandmother, to be honest—it was my father’s uncles who were ambitious. Grandpa was doing all right playing the violin in the resort towns, goes the story. Of course, if he hadn’t left the Old Country in 1929 or 30, he would have eventually been a refugee, if he lived. One of his sisters lived long enough to get to a DP camp after the war and then eventually to this country legally. Unless that part of the story isn’t true, of course.

My mother’s mother was born under the Tsar, and the tricky part for her (according to the version of the story I know) wasn’t getting smuggled in here but getting smuggled out of there. Actually, literally chased across the border by Cossacks. Illegal emigrant first, before becoming an illegal immigrant. Unless that part of the story isn’t true, of course.

My parents were anchor-babies, not Dreamers. Born in peacetime. Grew up speaking English. That part of the story, I’m pretty sure is true. College graduates, suburban house, liberal politics, four successful children.

Well, and here I am. Rock-ribbed American, salt of the earth and whatnot.

That’s my immigrant story.

What’s yours?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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