Reader’s views on immigration

A personal account of self-reliance

We are a land of immigrants. Each of us was an alien or is a descendant of aliens. We all came to this country in search of a better life, whether we were escaping poverty, uncertainty, political repression or all three.

There is nothing new about the waves of needy crowds descending on this country. What is new is the astounding disregard for the laws of the land and the acceptance by our governments of this lawlessness. And acceptance is hardly the term. The “undocumented aliens” are embraced and promised amnesty. …

Just recently, in the same issue of the DDN, along with a description of the plight of immigrant children, there was an article about the dismal poverty in Appalachia — poverty, hunger, lack of jobs, hopelessness … It seems absurdly clear, so clear and logical that one shouldn’t even have to raise the point, that our priorities are askew, and that we must begin by taking care of our own.

Maybe my views are harsh and uncharitable especially since I myself am an immigrant.

My parents both Ukrainian, were DP’s — Displaced Persons from the former Soviet Union who, along with thousands of others like them, found shelter and acceptance in a refugee camp in Germany after WWII. They were lucky to have ended up in an American camp — tragically, Soviet citizens who ended up in French or British camps were facing forced repatriation, a practice that General Eisenhower had banned in 1945.

In 1947, the war was long over and the camps had outlived their purpose. It was time to decide what to do, where to go and how to start living.

And so my family began an amazing, meandering journey through Europe, North Africa and back to Europe while we were waiting for our documents to be processed to be admitted to the United States. The quota. It took five years.

I was a child, but distinctly remember that period of my life — barracks and a looming coal mine just outside a Slavic refugee settlement in Belgium, more barracks in a Russian settlement just outside of Casablanca (where incidentally I started school without knowing a word of French), terrorism, the sort we are familiar with as Morocco was struggling for independence from France, a move to France to escape the violence …

And finally, one day, in Paris, we were told that our turn had come. We could emigrate to America!

We were thrilled. Never mind that neither my parents nor I spoke English, that I would be yanked out of a French lycee and placed in an American high school, again, not knowing a word of the language in which the classes would be taught. We just went, landing in Chicago one hot August day.

My parents found jobs immediately (no food stamps of welfare), I went to school, learning English as I went along (no translators or interpreters).

Was it difficult? It must have been, but incredibly, I never sensed despair or worry — you did what needed to be done and you continued.

There’s a saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I agree. — TATIANA LIAUGMINAS, BEAVERCREEK

Speak up

I just read about the new GOP plan to help the poor and would like to add an additional suggestion. Since the GOP abhors any public subsidy program unless it is for corporations and since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people, why don’t they simply allow the poor to incorporate? Problem solved.

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