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An Open Letter on the Issue of Deportation to Italian-American Relatives  An Open Letter on the Issue of Deportation to Italian-American Relatives
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-08-04 09:30:52
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An Open Letter on the Issue of Deportation to Italian-American Relatives 
(written on 28 June 2017)

The link below is a revisiting of an open letter to a cousin of mine on what it means to be a patriotic American. It appeared in Ovi a few months ago and bears re-reading together with the open letter below to my close relatives living in the US regarding the forcible deportation of a member of our Italian-American family. Indeed “1984” and beyond is upon us.http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/11407

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Dear sisters, brothers in law, nephews, nieces, daughters, sons in law, grandchildren and relatives in general; time to recapitulate historical events, lest we forget. What we thought we’d never see has come to pass for our family in the America of 2017. A member of our immediate family, Giovanna, daughter of my sister Maria, my niece, or your niece or your cousin, has unceremoniously and summarily been deported from the US together with her 10 year old daughter and her husband.

Now, you may retort that she took that risk by not fully respecting US laws  and that she too was subject to them. That kind of answer would be true, but I am afraid that it is a bit too facile and convenient and fails to see the whole picture. This is especially so today and lets us all off the hook a bit too conveniently, given the sad circumstances of the times we live in. 

Let me explain: in the first place let us remember that Giovanna has a great grandfather (Emmanuele) who entered America legally, lived legally and worked hard here for some twenty years (1900-1922); secondly she has a grandfather (Francesco) who was born in America and lived in it for at least half of his short 55 year span of life. She has a grandmother (Addolorata) who was a naturalized American citizen; a mother (Maria) who is a naturalized US citizen, an aunt (Sandra) who was born in America, also countless second cousins also born in America going back to Domenico, Giovanna great great uncle and first brother of Emmanuele who came to America at the turn of the century. Moreover, she has an uncle and aunts (children of American-born Francesco) who are naturalized American citizens and have spouses and children born in America. She has a brother who is a legal resident of the US with a green card, due to become a citizen soon.

Does that historical background give Giovanna a right to come to the US with her family, overstay her visa, and reside in the country illegally for a short while? Of course not, but neither can that history be completely discounted as if it never happened. Laws ought not to be applied theoretically and in the abstract. They are made by humans and apply to humans with a human face and a human history. They ought to be applied judiciously and compassionately.

I submit that Giovanna should not have been put together with all other illegal refugees or immigrants who might have jumped a border fence recently and subjected to deportation. She was given a month to pack her belonging and return to Italy. It was a purposefully humiliating treatment, mitigated only by the fact that it pretends to apply the law unflinchingly.

The question arises: would my niece have been treated just as harshly had she landed here from Canada or Norway and overstayed her visa?  Probably not, which gives the lie to the statement used as a justification to divide and deport families that “the law applies to everyone equally.” It is a fact that if one invests half a million dollar in a real estate venture in America one can legally get a green card and eventual citizenship. Obviously the statement about the strict equal application of the law while ideal, has exceptions.

Let’s reflect now about the deportations that went on in Germany in the 30s. Jews who had lived in Germany for many generations, born in Germany and Germans by all accounts, were forced to emigrate as “non-Germans,” if they were lucky; the rest were sent to deportation camps, never mind their citizenship. Even dissenting Germans were pressured into fleeing Germany; they were undesirable.

We may not be at that point yet, you may feel that I may be mixing apples and oranges by recalling what went on in Nazi Germany in the 30s, and that such a thing would never come to pass in America. Perhaps, but I’d like to suggest that you should rethink this matter a bit more deeply in the light of what just happened to our niece and cousin. 

All the ominous signs seem to be there; this time around it is not the Jews who are first to be rounded up and deported as not full citizens and as unpatriotic, but the Moslems, thus violating the fundamental American Constitutional principle of freedom of religion and freedom from bias and persecution because of religion instituted by its founding fathers. That unfortunately has already come to pass.

Consider the travel bans which our current president, so called, has attempted to impose, fortunately stopped by the Courts, an equal branch of the US government. Consider the separation of families going on as we speak, sometimes using as a pretext the violation of a traffic law; families who have been here, albeit illegally for 10, 20, even thirty years contributing in various ways to the well-being not only of their own family but the country too.

The question arises: do you still feel fully safe from your own eventual deportation because your ancestors and yourself have been here legally all along? If the answer is yes, I suggest, once again, that you think again and think a bit more deeply. Do it now however, because when the bigots and the racists come knocking at your door to inquire as to where you were born and from which country your ancestors ailed, and what religion you subscribe to, it may be too late.

Now, you may disagree with these comments countering them with all sorts of abstract stringent law-and-order arguments, you may even support the ban on all Moslems, and I will respect your opinion, but not admire it. All I am asking is that we at least initiate a dialogue on this matter and not just sweep it under the carpet. I don’t think it’s asking too much, given the disturbing trends in our country today, that we not sweep it under the carpet by pretending that they are not there.

All the best to all of you. Affectionately, dad, grandad, uncle, cousin, brother, brother in law, husband, Lino

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Check Dr Emanuel Paparella's EBOOKS
Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers
& Europe Beyond the Euro
You can download them for FREE HERE!
 
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