Above is what the Native Americans possibly said to one another as they watched bunches of white guys jump off a big sailing boat, becoming their land’s first immigrants. I’ve been told they were greeted with joy and food, eager to help them feel welcomed.
But over time, as more white people came in many more boats, some fighting one another for coveted land, the Native Americans may have wondered what they got themselves into, watching these strange foreigners fight one another to lay claim to parcels of land that was theirs. How could they have known then that one day they would be herded into less desirable land, often slaughtered by these many white men who were busy building homes and towns, moving ever westward.
Centuries later the various tribes found themselves living in reservations, often in less desirable land, free only to practice many of their old traditions. Some moved into the white man’s sprawling cities, attempting to assimilate. Those settlers once considered the first immigrants believed themselves to be the creators of this huge land, from border to border and coast to coast. Our Statue of Liberty welcomed new immigrants as they became part of the growing economy, especially those from European countries seeking more opportunities and from neighboring Mexico who provided cheap labor for factories, wine and corn fields.
As the decades rolled on, assimilation of people from all over the world eager to become Americans and learn English, gradually become part of ‘the melting pot’.
However, more recently illegal immigrants, many fleeing corrupt governments, have flooded over southern borders, some welcomed but others seen as getting benefits belonging only to legal residents. Our recent government has felt impelled to stop this flow. Thus began the “Build the Wall” movement aimed at ridding the country of all illegal immigrants. During a California Sanctuary State Roundtable, President Trump recently said, “These aren’t people, they are animals.”
By chance, I met a beautiful young lady named Janelle, staying with a friend of mine. She had heard I was a writer and read one of my memoirs. Her speech hurried as she confided that she was hunting for someone to write her story. She felt people needed to know the desperation held by people like her who are illegal immigrants. Holding my hand tightly, with urgency in her voice, she shared an amazing story of her life as an illegal immigrant in America, truly living a life of no security as she sought to support herself. Such words as DACA and dreamers spewed forth filled with emotion as she needed me to understand how she could not be hired any place since she was one of these DACA people, or dreamers as they are also called, who have no social security numbers and can only receive cash for work done. I must confess, I knew little about illegal immigrants and was totally unaware of the hardships they endured. She tightened her grip on my hand, needing me to understand what it was like, coming with her mother to America when she was 14 years old, from Trinidad, where she had lived a harsh life with her parents constantly at war with one another. She stayed with several of my friends from time to time, but returning to NYC when a rare modeling job might open up willing to pay cash for services.
I certainly felt anguish for this young lady but I told her that at my age, I no longer had the energy to write another book. I now only write blogs. I could share her story with my readers and perhaps a writer or playwright might hear of it and have the energy and contacts to get her story published. She looked desperate. I felt concerned that she was running out of resources, needing some kind of stability in her tentative life, so I offered her yet another place to stay until we could sort things out. She looked at me as though I were rescuing her from drowning. Quickly we gathered several of her friends and myself who are helping her develop a resume and find temporary suitable work. She wants so badly to please and does whatever she can to help me run my home.
I will be sharing bits of her life and progress in future blogs along with my usual take on life around me. You’ll find her story amazing! Stay tuned!