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columnist e.j. montini's grandparents e to america "the right way" and still were treated like enemy combatants. so it is with those stuck in trump's travel ban.


i’ve heard a lot in the last week from americans who e here as immigrants or refugees.

most of them are sad. some are angry.

i grew up with people just like them.

we lived in a small pennsylvania steel mill town in a neighborhood in which everyone’s parents or grandparents were immigrants or refugees. there were men, women and children from italy, poland, lebanon, syria, czechoslovakia, greece and more. there were african-americans who had migrated from south to north. the company-built duplex houses in the company-designed neighborhoods were squeezed next to one another along narrow cobble-stone streets. you had to get to know your neighbors.

almost all of kids i grew up with had a grandparent or parent, or both, who couldn’t speak english.

not everyone was a citizen.

the myth of immigrating 'the right way'

immigrants landing at ellis island, n.y., 1913

immigrants landing at ellis island, n.y., 1913

 (p o: public domain)

i hear all the time from people who boast about how the people i knew as a child got into america the “right way.”

it got difficult for some of them after pearl harbor, however. japanese americans suffered the most, of course. but there were repercussions for those from germany and italy as well.

fear mongering works, as we’ve come to know so well.

more: lawmaker urges suspending arizona refugee program

one of my grandmothers, a woman could not read, write or speak english, was made to carry an “enemy alien” p o id booklet. she was told (by the fbi no less) that she couldn’t own a radio and needed a special permit to travel more than five miles from home.

all this while my father, her son, was with the u.s. army in europe and her husband, my grandfather, was working in the steel mill for the war industry.

that’s how it is when we are made to feel threatened by those who do not threaten us. that’s how it is for those caught up in donald trump’s immigrant ban. they are people who have tried to do things the “right way.”

what one russian refugee says

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faith leaders and former refugees comment on president donald trump's executive order on refugees. thomas hawthorne/azcentral.com

it saddens those immigrants who e before them, like a former refugee from russia named maria stultz. she wrote to me last week, saying in part:

“i am a refugee of world war ii, a naturalized citizen … the moment i be e a citizen i be e a registered republican. i voted in every election. i even had the privilege to sit on a jury. i lived in california, raised two children there and buried my husband. i voted following my political persuasions but mostly for republican presidents and congressmen.

“i know sometimes you complain about the ranting letters you receive. well i guess i'm ranting with tears running down my face thinking about what is in store for my country … does it matter where i was born or what color i am what my religion was or is?

more: mccain, flake slam trump's refugee ban

“no. i am an american.

“i don't think i am going to vote republican again if congress can stand behind a man who is destroying our country, our world, and my grandchildren's future…

“i lived in refugee ps after the war ended. they were palaces compared to where the refugees are housed now. if it hadn't been for the u.s. my family would have gone back to our home land and been s to death by the soldiers of mr. trump's best friend's country.

“and it's not just the refugee matter. i am a woman.  are we going to lose everything we gained slowly over the years? every day that man manages to ruin another piece of the american foundation…”

why maria wanted her name printed

i told maria i would like to use some of her letter, and offered to quote her anonymously, given the hostility from internet trolls that people who criticize trump sometimes receive.

no, she said. she wanted her name printed.

why?

because she is an american.

azcentral

montini: speaking hate at the state capitol

azcentral

montini: vetting (trump) must be done to protect america

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