Messages to the Presidents of the World
|44th President of the United States|
|In office January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017|
|Vice President||Joe Biden|
|Preceded by||George W. Bush|
|Succeeded by||Donald Trump|
|United States Senator from Illinois|
|In office January 3, 2005 – November 16, 2008|
|Preceded by||Peter Fitzgerald|
|Succeeded by||Roland Burris|
|Member of the Illinois Senate from the 13th district|
|In office January 8, 1997 – November 4, 2004|
|Preceded by||Alice Palmer|
|Succeeded by||Kwame Raoul|
|Born||Barack Hussein Obama II(1961-08-04) August 4, 1961 (age 55)Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.|
|Spouse(s)||Michelle Robinson (m. 1992)|
|Relatives||See Family of Barack Obama|
|Awards||Nobel Peace Prize (2009)Profile in Courage Award (2017)|
- Olga C.
- Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Dear Mr. President
There is a consensus among many thinkers and philosophers that the true measure of success for any human population is how it treats its most disenfranchised members. If we were to currently apply this litmus test to the United States, we would inevitably fail utterly and miserably, since ethnocentrism seems to be canceling out any humanitarian impulses we should be exhibiting towards those who come to our shores seeking a better life.
Fifty years ago, my widowed mother and I came to this country from Cuba. We were sponsored by our family, all of whom were citizens, all wage earners contributing taxes to the general welfare and social programs aimed to help those in need, including immigrants. It was assumed, correctly, that our family would be responsible for our health and well being. We immediately qualified for a green card, and in filing for one were automatically put on the list for potential citizenship, which we earned within two years. I grew up and have now been a teacher for more than thirty years, taking advantages of the opportunities available in a free country and reaping the rewards of hard work and effort to be a contributing member of its society.
Fast forward fifty years. We now have states treating immigrants like ping pong balls, batting them back and forth because no one wants to be responsible for them. We have immigrant children being warehoused in deplorable conditions with limited access to food, water, medical help and basic care. We have people being put on a bus and left in the middle of nowhere to fend for themselves; how well would you fare if you arrived in a foreign country having no language, no knowledge of geography or social mores, and no money to help you fulfill basic needs like food and shelter? And, most surreal of all, we have vast swaths of the population insisting that all immigrants speak excellent English- one of the three hardest languages in the world to learn (Mandarin Chinese and Basque being the other two)- even though they may have lived all their lives in a remote rural area with no access to schools, books or even a vague semblance of formal education. On top of everything else, achieving citizenship status, much as someone may desperately want to, is akin to Sisyphus pushing a boulder endlessly up a hill only to watch it roll back down, since the barriers in the way to achieving citizenship are just as futile and insurmountable.
Is this really what we have become? Is this how we truly want to treat other human beings, those that come here wanting to be a positive and contributing part of our population? Can we honestly say we have achieved ethical and cultural success as a people?
I believe politicians of both major parties, and citizens of every state in the nation, need to sit down and do a great deal of soul searching and self examination. Our immigration woes were not this insoluble in the past- we are, after all, a nation of immigrants. We can find solutions in our own history, and if not, in our collective imagination and the ingenuity Americans are known for. We cannot continue to treat the disenfranchised among us with such lack of respect and basic humanity. Because if we do, if we allow callous apathy or outright hostility to be our modus operandi to any who seek shelter here, then surely the time will come to pay the piper and the collapse of our way of life is undeniably, steadily, on its inexorable way.
Thank you for listening