RAISE Up

By Joe Ragonese

Yesterday, President Trump announced to the press his new immigration policy that will shift attention away from low-skilled laborers to prioritizing high-skilled workers entering this country.

The act is called Reforming American immigration for strong employment act (RAISE).  It is very much in line with immigration policies that already exist in Australia and Canada.  It favors those who speak English, as well as those with employment already waiting for them when they enter.  Its purpose is to best insure that lower skill jobs can be filled by unemployed Americans, and that those who do arrive, have the best chance of success, without becoming burdens to our welfare system.

Raise will lower the total number of immigrants arriving on our shores to a more manageable 500,000 to 600,000 a year, rather than the present 1.6 million.  It is a reasonable and an appropriate approach to immigration that echoes earlier times in our recent past.  During the 1970s we allowed 300,000 immigrants a year, while in the Clinton years of the 1990s there were only 500,000 allowed to enter yearly.

While the reform is the first since the 1960s, it is strictly in line with the necessary, reasonable, and rational reforms that candidate Trump promised; and one of the main reasons that he won the election.  In fact it is so popular, that recent polling indicates that 60% of Americans, across the political spectrum, want all immigration to stop completely.

President Trump indicated that there is such a strong support for this legislation that it is unstoppable.  Unstoppable, if the American people have their way, if progressives have theirs, it is dead in the water.  The visceral reaction of leftists was fully on display at the press conference following the announcement, with a confrontation between Steven Miller, senior aide, speaking on behalf of the President, and CNNs Jim Acosta.

Acosta had the temerity to quote from the sonnet on the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and stating that this bill violates what the Statue of Liberty has stood for.  Miller easily shut down every objection Acosta could provide, but it shows exactly the mindset of the left and the leftist press.

The sparring continued, with Acosta becoming angrier every time he was shut down, at one point with Miller calling Acosta’s objections a cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.  There is a lack of reason on the left, and it will cost the left even more Democratic seats in congress during the mid-term elections, but they do not see this.

This spat between Acosta and Miller sparked within me a deeply held belief system that was instilled by my grandparents.  All four of my grandparents emigrated from Sicily, between 1909 and 1912.  They were that huddled mass yearning to breathe free.  None spoke English, and my father’s father arrived a widower, with a child living with his mother in Sicily, until he could earn enough money to bring her over.

When Gaetano Ragonese landed on Ellis Island in 1909 he had $1.14 in his pocket, was an unskilled worker who could not read or write English or Italian, nor speak English.  He immigrated to this country because in Sicily he worked in a salt mine and a few years before leaving, his brother, Nucento, who also worked in the mine alongside him, died in a cave in.  Gaetano decided that he would rather come to America to breathe free, or die trying, rather than die 300 feet underground mining salt.  Does anyone better meet the poem’s description of the huddled masses?

Before he was allowed to enter mainland America, he had to take a physical examination, sign a statement (with his mark) that he was not an anarchist, and would obey all the laws and customs of this country.  And, he needed sponsorship to leave.  As he had no relatives living in America, he signed an agreement to work at the steel mills in Cleveland, Ohio.

Already, 22 year-old Gaetano Ragonese had to meet more requirements than Acosta thought that today’s immigrants must meet.  To Acosta all anyone needs do is show up, and then keep their own laws (think sharia) their own customs and live on welfare.  After all, that’s what he thinks the meaning of the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty means.

In 1909 the Industrial Revolution was in full force.  New factories and mills needed unskilled workers, as many as they could find, and as fast as they could fill the vacancies.   There were not enough Americans to fill all those positions.  So the U.S. Government accommodated those needs and passed legislation allowing mass immigration.

By 1920, the need no longer existed, and in an effort to remedy the influx of immigrants, immigration came to a halt, especially to southern Italians, whom the congress thought were altering the American way of life.  In 1921 new immigration laws were passed, tightening up those passed in 1920, allowing even fewer immigrants.

Congress reacted to the needs of the American workforce.  These prohibitions came just in the nick of time, having slowed immigration enough, so nine years later, when the Great Depression struck, we didn’t have even more unemployed people, which may have caused an unmanageable situation.

Acosta, and all the other lefties who think like him, have made up some romantic fantasy that at the turn of the 20th Century everything was open to anyone who simply showed up.  In 1920, before the legislation passed that prohibited further immigration of southern Italians, Gaetano’s daughter, Fillipa, and his brother, Vincenzo, who had a trade (he was a barber), arrived on Ellis Island.

They had to fill out the same forms, and pass a physical examination.  Vincenzo had bad teeth, and failed his entrance exam.  He was not allowed into the country and was placed back on the ship that brought him here and left to fend for himself in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

It is interesting to note that once Gaetano fulfilled his obligation with the steel mills, he opened his own business, a green grocer, selling fresh fruits and vegetables, and when the subject of illegal Italian immigrants was mentioned, he vehemently objected to them being in this country because he had to meet all the requirements and it wasn’t fair to him, his brother, who couldn’t come, and all other Italian immigrants who came here legally and did what was right.  Breaking the law was breaking the law and Gaetano did not abide by lawbreakers.

Like all progressive objections to anything that is helpful to America and her citizens, Acosta’s tirade was based on fantasy rather than reality.  The reality is harsh for some, yet reassuring to Americans who only want their country to work for them, and not some faceless, nameless mass who only want handouts while subverting the American way of life.

Raise up, and let your congressmen and women know that you fully support this reasonable and necessary act, and that it needs to be passed into law, the sooner the better.  Together we can again make America Great again, by forcing congress to act on our behalf, not theirs.