I was a little taken aback by the letter regarding liberal activism in our schools (“Liberal Activism in Our Schools,” September 7, 2023). It surprises me that post-Holocaust, any Jew would be that antagonistic to immigration into the United States, legal or not. Contrary to what you might hear from Trump, DeSantis and Abbott, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not rapists, criminals or drug dealers. They are families with children fleeing from violence and persecution: economic, personal, societal and otherwise just seeking a better life.
In terms of doing “chesed” in Phoenix “to assist migrants who have entered the U.S. illegally,” maybe they should do “chesed” in Englewood by cleaning people’s pools or by sweeping their tennis courts. These days, any time you disagree with someone to the left of your ideology, you simply label them as “woke,” removing all need for real discussion. Issues are usually more complex than that.
Libby Garland, professor of history and the author of “After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965,” states that “many European Jews were determined to emigrate to the United States, and rather than preventing them … from entering the country, the quota laws prompted some of them—with the aid of smugglers—to develop the most efficacious illegal means of doing so.” Many of these illegal immigrants came to the United States from Eastern Europe through Western Europe, South America, Mexico and Canada. Did people wonder how these people got here from Krakow, Kiev and Berlin? These immigrants were clearly not seeking asylum in the first country, most likely their second, third or even fourth country.
If the kids in our schools are unaware, maybe it’s because they are not being taught about it in school, just as they are not being taught that in 1924, there were 119,036 Jewish immigrants to the U.S., prompting Congress to pass the toughest immigration laws to date. The following year only 10,292 Jews immigrated to the U.S., a drop of over 90%. Illegal immigration naturally followed. Libby explains that “given the illegal nature of this migration, we will never have definitive numbers of how many Jews broke the law to enter this country after 1924; evidence suggests a figure in the tens and maybe the hundreds of thousands.”
Don’t even get me started about Jews turned away from the United States between 1939-1945. There were efforts to get Jews into this country illegally with limited success. The prevailing public views on immigration of Jews was no different than the public opinion on immigrants today. Hence our elected leaders see no reason to modify immigration laws, which is why nothing gets done in this area. Today’s illegal immigrants are our grandparents and great-grandparents of the last century. So, doing “chesed” with underprivileged, unwelcome, hungry and poor people who are discriminated against is actually a good thing and not woke liberal activism spawned by cultural elites.