This I Believe

Priscilla - Port St Lucie, Florida
Entered on June 18, 2007

This I believe.

I believe in Immigration. I am an immigrant. I moved from my native Britain to America in 2000 to marry my darling husband who is a third generation immigrant of Italian heritage. My own heritage is Scottish gypsy mingled with red-haired Gauls and I am now an American citizen. A British-American if you like.

Like America, Britain has a long history of incorporating a multitude of nationalities from across the globe. Invaded by the Gauls and Romans, settled by gypsies from Persia, a haven to Jews during the Second World War and Ugandans during the genocide reign of Idi Amin, Britain has been second home to its Commonwealth citizens, people from most of the continents of the world, Asia, North America, South America and islands like Jamaica, Trinidad, Australia and New Zealand. In recent times, Britain has become home to its European partners, the Italians, the French, Belgians, Dutch, Spanish and many more.

While I was growing up in Britain, this influx of nationalities generated interest in new cultures. At school and at work, I learned how to cook a host of different foods long before network TV gave us the great chefs and kitchen masters. I was shown how to roast my spices and which ones to use in different foods, what was meant by ‘al dente’, how to season a wok and where the word ‘salt’ originated. I know 101 ways to cook potatoes and how to properly pronounce tomatoes when in America. I learned that an aubergine in Europe is just an ordinary eggplant with a fancy name and a chicken salad is not just a salad with chicken as it is in England but a much more complex pile of flavors – and I even learned how to spell some words in 15 different forms of the English language.

And not only did I learn an international cuisine, I was told about different religions, tribal customs, how to predict the weather, how to tell a blue moon from a new moon, how to trap a wallaby and how to survive in the dessert. All this learned from the hodge-podge of people that have passed through my life and enriched it beyond measure.

Living now in America, I listen to the debates about who to allow into the country and who to keep out. I hear about building walls from sea to glorious sea, about the jobs that are lost to American workers and how much immigrants cost in welfare each year and it hurts me to see a nation divided instead of a nation looking for new opportunities to learn. America was built by its immigrants, its Spanish invaders, its British aristocracy, its black slaves, its indentured servants, its Irish famine victims, as well as latter day computer wiz-kids and techno-buffs. The poor of the world have always flocked to her shores to create the American dream, and the American dream has been built by their labor. For I believe that immigration is not something to be feared. A country should not close its eyes to the plights of other nations and it should not slam its doors on the outside world in a vain hope of keeping out a cold wind. Instead, I think a nation, this nation, should open its arms and rejoice that it is still revered throughout the world for its liberty, its strength and its love for the foreign man. Immigration between all nations can only be a positive action that builds bridges between nations, breaks down barriers of language, religion and custom and lets peace be triumphant.