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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Dear Editor:

In this frightful time of crisis brought about by the unspeakable terrorism of a few, America has entered a state of grave insecurity. The pundits are proclaiming a season of economic disaster, continued acts of aggression against our Nation and a deepening sense of unrest among our citizenry that extends from air travel to the stock market to employment and personal safety. As we have seen before in such grave times, the blame is laid at the feet of "aliens," that word whose meaning ranges from good to neutral to pejorative as prevailing opinions change. And right now, perhaps "alien" is at its worst.

We see a virulent anti-alien reaction in America. Draconian, perhaps racist, laws are being proposed, with many more to follow, I am sure. Howls of "Keep 'them' out" and "Close the borders!" can be heard from coast to coast and border to border. The restrictionists, the isolationists are out in force, saying, "I told you so! Why haven't you kicked "them" out long ago?" And, it is difficult not to understand their rage. But, rage can only take us so far. A natural and human reaction, yes. A basis to go onward, no.

Immigration lawyers have expressed fear that the practices they have spent lifetimes building are destined to fail; that the people they've helped and loved through the years will no longer live free in our beloved land, that wifes and children, parents and siblings will never again find a welcome. Some of us are remembering internment camps and the shame we felt when we realized that an entire race of Americans, born and naturalized, had been confined because Japan had attacked us. In the news we hear of Muslim-Americans being murdered because they have dark skin and wear a head dress. We must not become terrorists ourselves. And yet forgiveness without contrition is unacceptable.

I digress. It is not my purpose to suggest a course to follow, nor even to warn against one. Those who read this letter are likely far more capable than I in that task. It is my hope only to encourage all of us, immigration lawyers, old Americans, new Americans, those who would be and will be Americans, that as in crises of the past, goodness and right will survive!

Those of us who have spent our lives helping the "huddled masses" (and the scientists and the engineers and the doctors and professors and all the wonderful friends and neighbors to whom we've given a little shove, a welcoming hand) will yet survive the coming storm. Our voices of reason will ultimately be heard again, as they have in days past.

True, we who advocate alien rights are likely to suffer a setback, maybe a lot of setbacks. But, history does repeat itself. American ideals; that which we know to be America; will ultimately overcome the hatred and bigotry and anti-alien racism that can float upward in the national consciousness for a while. Almost none would reject protecting ourselves. Few would deny retaliation. But, most fair-minded Americans will at least opt for focus. Hit those who have hit us; don't punish the truly innocent. Our united voices may bring about that focus.

Have hope, for ourselves, for our clients and for our Country. We can and will survive and prevail.

Most sincerely,

Stephen B. Horton, Esq.
New Milford, CT


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