Immigration nation

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Oct. 1, 2015

In recent months, the topic of immigration has become the subject of much heated political debate. Often, the topic seems to exacerbate the political divisions in our country. With the presidential elections ahead, the tendency among politicians and commentators to try to score political points through soundbites will only increase.

Here at the NewBostonPost, we are dedicating the month of October to covering the political, as well as cultural, aspects of immigration. The month that celebrates Columbus Day lends itself naturally to such a theme.

Through our stories and commentary this month, we hope to examine the complexity of the topic and challenge readers to reflect on it carefully, reasonably, and compassionately.

Given the growing influx of refugees into the western hemisphere, we sense an increasing urgency to reach solutions in non-partisan ways. At the same time, we believe that the topic of immigration provides an important opportunity for us to reflect on our national identity and on what the American values of freedom and equality signify in the modern, and a truly global, world.

In his speech to Congress on Sept. 24, Pope Francis conceded that the immigration question presented us with “great challenges and many hard decisions.” But he also reminded us to view immigrants as “persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories,” and to respond in a way that is “always humane, just, and fraternal.” In other words, the leader of a truly global church reminded Americans of the lofty principles that, since our country’s founding, have made America a beacon of hope to all the world. The principles at the core of our founding documents, namely, liberty and equality before the law, are universal — and they are inextricably tied to the pope’s highlighted principles of human dignity and fraternity.

As we share stories of Boston’s rich immigrant history and colorful cultural diversity, we hope to harken back to these universal truths by putting a “face” on our own immigrant communities and showcasing the many ways in which they enrich our city and add to our “American experience.”

Although we will pay tribute to the many contributions of Boston’s immigrants, we will not shy away from addressing the challenges posed by immigration — both legal and illegal. We will address head on the challenge of celebrating diversity while simultaneously encouraging assimilation.

In his book, Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, Peter Wood, professor of anthropology at Boston University, has written “diversity in its new form tends to elevate many-ness for its own sake” and thus undermines the universal principles of freedom and equality. We will point to the ways in which a failure to assimilate by young immigrants, perpetuated by entrenched diversity professionals, not only challenges American public schools, but also prevents newcomers from fully realizing the “American Dream.”

As an immigrant myself, I can tell you that the idea of America, as the land of opportunity, is powerful. There is no place like America anywhere else in the world. Had I moved from Germany not to the United States but to Spain or Italy or any other European country 21 years ago, had I learned the native language accent free, and raised my children there, I would still be considered … well, German. No other country in the world would have welcomed me as generously as America. Let us not forget how this generosity lies at the core of our national identity and enriches our country with each generation. Our articles will show you how.

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