I sent this to the Daily Post but has not appeared. At any rate.
In her Daily Post letter attacking a county proclamation supporting immigrants,
Lisa Shin states that "...The RAISE Act would establish a skills-based
points system and place a responsible limit on permanent residency for
What I would be curious to know is how such a system would predict the
future. For example, my grandfather and grandmother came over from Italy
with few high level skills. Perhaps their most important skill was
getting on the boat and then surviving Ellis Island. They raised five
kids, one of whom was my mom. I recall, when staying with my grandmother
as a kid, her commenting while canning the produce from my
step-grandfather's orchard and garden,"grandpa and I were in the iron
and steel business: I would iron and he would steal". She taught herself
English (and Polish, since it was a mixed immigrant neighborhood) and had a wonderful sense of self-depreciating humor.
Grandpa died young in a motorcycle accident, leaving grandma to raise
the brood. Their five kids grew up to be two WW II veterans, one of whom
was an Army Corps of Engineers technocrat who worked on the Mount
Morris Dam in Western NY after returning from the Southeast Asian
Theatre. One worked on rockets as an electrical technician down at White
Sands Proving Ground near Alamogordo after returning from battles in
France and Germany. Younger brothers Joe and Al became well known
musicians in New Orleans and Florida; Joe was one of the pioneers of
be-bop. My mom was a legal secretary, singer, and social worker in
As far as my step-grandfather Mike, another Italian-American immigrant
who worked in an auto plant and annually raised an acre of produce? His
nephews (his brothers immigrated with him) became MD's.
I have one brother, a high tech guru, who was invited to be on President
Obama's IRS Oversight Board and another who is a white collar
supervisor with the Erie County Water Authority.
So it seems to me that what my grandparents may have lacked was
opportunity in the old country, rather than innate talent, based on
their kid's success. So unless these RAISE Act programs can somehow
predict the future, I would wager that had such programs been
functioning in the early 20th Century, we might have been short several
WWII veterans, some musicians, a raft of doctors, and other
variously-talented riff-raff. Just from my family alone. As far as
"Making America Great Again" I think my barely-educated grandparents, if
they are looking down at their offspring, have nothing for which to
Admittedly, its hard to predict if someone will be a success or a bust
once they are here in the US, but suggesting RAISE will help rather than
hurt the nation is speculation at best and arrogance at worst.
Khal Spencer, Ph.D.
Trying to keep up my Italian-American family's tradition of not being a slouch.