Dr. Bill Atwood

Only in America

We have been dealing with the issue of immigration for many decades in our history. In fact, it has been a subject for centuries, and as immigrants have come to our shores there have been benefits and costs related to the people that came here looking for something better than they left.

When Europeans arrived they brought dreams of finding resources that would create wealth for them, their rulers, and their homelands. The people who were already living here saw the effects of the diseases that came on board those tiny ships. Let’s face it; the indigenous people of this nation know first-hand the results of open border immigration.

As the New World drew more people to new adventures in the colonies, people from Europe who were struggling to survive decided to take a chance and sailed across the Atlantic. Once they arrived, they looked for work, land, food, and a way to make a go of things. What they sought was opportunity. What they found was a freedom to take advantage of those opportunities. Some made fortunes and some just made enough to survive. It was based on hard work, skills, tenacity, and luck.

Others came in slave ships and had found themselves trapped in Africa, shipped here and bound into slavery and a life that had to be horrible even on the best of days. The voyage killed many, slavery caused many to die early deaths, and the scars of beatings were evidence that some here were in a nasty business.

Some came from European countries and became the brunt of hatred and bigotry. Ask the Irish who flooded the shores and the job markets because they had no food in Ireland. Ask the Chinese who were brought over to build the railroads. There wasn’t a welcome mat or basket of goodies waiting for any of them. Lynch mobs and threats were common threads in this nation. People who were already here and having a tough time landing a job did not want the competition of another person looking for work.

This past week I found myself at Stanford University Medical Center as my wife needed to avail herself of their fantastic medical treatments. As I arrived and stayed with her for some of her time there, I took notice of the staff of the great facility.

Angelo is a shuttle bus driver I’ve gotten to know. The Italian heritage evident in his name he represents a culture that sees family as important along with great wines, food and music. His daughter plays soccer. Freda, another driver, is a descendant of former slaves. Her veins carry blood of a people who held inner strength while being beaten. Her ancestry has a history of strength we forget to honor. Freda was telling me that she was changing buses to go pick up people from the VA Hospital to bring them to Stanford. She likes helping the veterans.

When Freda departed to help the vets, Mike came onto the bus. Mike heard me talking to a Vietnam veteran and joined in the conversation. He shared his love of this country. He told us that he had escaped from Iran years ago and was able to get here with his family. One son, 8 or 9, and another a few years younger. He shared how he loved this country because it gave his family opportunities. He told his sons as they were growing up to not waste the opportunities that America offered. His smile displayed a great pride as he shared that both of his sons were graduates of UCLA. He smiled that within 20 years of their arrival from Iran, a shuttle bus driver’s sons could be well-educated American men. He stated it so well, “Only in America.”

Carol’s surgeon is of oriental decent, one nurse was 30 years here from the Philippines, others from Mexico, and the Middle East. All here in this land of immigrants.

Many in this nation misunderstand the immigration issue. Few just don’t want anyone to come here but that is a very small number. Liberals don’t understand what conservatives feel about the immigration issue. It isn’t that people who are poor come here. Most immigrants are poor. What conservatives expect is for folks to enter here legally and to not expect somebody to give them free stuff.

My relatives came and had to endure quarantines to ensure illnesses did not come with them. The vast majority of immigrants come here to improve their lot in life. They come like Mike did to embrace the opportunities that America offers. Some are coming to hurt us. I don’t want to keep the good people out; I just want to make sure the bad guys don’t get in.

America doesn’t need folks like the Tsarnaevs who bomb, but people like Mike’s sons who come to build America into a better place.

I like Mike.