On Saturday, March 28th, there was an article in the Boston Globe titled Marchers Urge an end to Immigrants Jailing by Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti and in last Thursday’s Globe, Kevin Cullen’s column, Absence of Reason, explored the same subject recounting the story of how one immigrant family is torn apart because the father, who has been in the United States for seventeen years, has been incarcerated to be deported at any time. I reread both articles with deepening frustration as it brought to mind, a long forgotten incident in my life as a youngster.
I am also an immigrant brought to America from Albania when I was one year old. My family had immigrated legally under circumstances which at that time were a far more welcoming atmosphere than is present today.
I joined the U.S. Navy during WWII and served aboard a Destroyer Escort, the U.S. S. Chaffee, DE 230, that was on its way to Bayonne, New Jersey from Boston for outfitting before our assignment in Paciifc Ocean War Areas. Our crew knew that in a few moments, we would be passing the Statue of Liberty – an image I had seen many times in newspaper photos, school books, and in newsreels. But, now, it was about to happen. All members of the crew stood on the starboard side of the ship as we came in view of the Statue. We stood at attention as we cruised by the Statue in dead silence, and frankly, I am not ashamed to say there were tears in the eyes of many of my shipmates. For, here, before us, was this majestic symbol of America that our fathers and mothers had sailed by and gazed at with such hope for us, their children, many years before. I was not the only immigrant aboard my ship – there were other immigrants from Austria, Poland, France, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere in the world. Passing the Statue of Liberty doubled my pride, that as an immigrant from Albania, I was in the service of my adopted country in a time of war.
Kevin Cullen, in his April 2nd column, describes the story of an Honduran immigrant, Adalid Artega, who was working as a stone mason, paying his taxes and providing for his family. Now, he is in jail, leaving his family without income and due to be deported. He is a man with the same dreams our parents had when they came as immigrants to the United States. Kevin Cullen quotes Leah Artega as saying, ” My children will lose a father. I will lose a husband. We will lose our house, and what will this accomplish?” I defy any one to give a reasonable answer to that question!
Maria Sacchetti’s article described a demonstration by hundreds before Boston’s John F. Kennedy’s federal building to protest a surge in the number of immigrants who are jailed pending deportation. In New England, for example, immigrant detainees have tripled from an average of 1,365 a day a decade ago. I was extremely proud of the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Coalition (MIRA), Albanian-born Eva Millona, who exclaimed, “It is time for us to stand up and say enough,” and called on Congress to create a path to legal residency for the 11 million immigrants in the United States. I most passionately share Eva’s opinion!
Links to both of these articles are listed below.
I have given you my opinion, you have read Kevin Cullen’s and Eva Millona’s opinions, so please let me know what you think.