My great-grandfather, Martin Six, left Alsace-Lorraine and made his way to the port of Hamburg.
He boarded the steamship Western Metropolis, traversed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in New York City in June, 1868, long before Ellis Island was established as the main port of entry there.
He wound up settling in Philadelphia.
A nephew of ours married a woman from a former Soviet Union country. They were separated for several long months while going through a monumental mountain of red tape before she was permitted to emigrate here.
Another relative adopted three sons from Siberia. Travel, lodging, stays in Russia, lots of paperwork went into each adoption.
None of what I described above was easy.
Now? It seems much less difficult for illegal immigrants to cross our borders and be embraced by states and a country offering free educations, health care, and drivers’ licenses.
Cubans attempting to escape the Castro regime for years had but to get their feet on US soil to be considered for legal entry. If they were caught while still on the water, they were sent back.
Now this country is welcoming Syrian refugees who may or may not count among their numbers potential or already dyed-in-the wool terrorists bent on the destruction of our Western way of life.
Obviously, I have nothing against immigrants, having descended from at least one. But ol’ Martin Six didn’t swim the Rio Grande or come smuggled in some other way. He did it legally.
Remember the Kosovars who came here during the Balkan wars? They were all over the news — many came to the Fort Dix area, including one woman who gave birth immediately after her arrival and naming her kid America. Those particular Kosovars were given just about everything when they got here — until we found jobs for them. Suddenly, they weren’t so crazy about our way of life now that it involved working for a living.
Many of them went back home, in fact.
Still, the Kosovars were not out to commit acts of terrorism, as far as I knew.
Today, I’m not so sure. There are rumors of women and children being put aside to make room among the ranks of the refugees for able-bodied males who look remarkably like soldiers — or terrorists, perhaps.
What are we to believe? I believe we should have a common standard. If my nephew’s wife had to struggle through several months of separation and red tape before being allowed to enter this country, refugees should face the same struggle.
And tens of thousands of refugees? If we have resources to handle them, why aren’t we first addressing the needs of homeless veterans, who sacrificed to serve in uniform and now need the help of the country they defended.
Before we extend a helping hand to so-called refugees, I think, we should extend it to our own.