|Immigrant Milking Cows|
Turner County, SD
But it wasn't meant to be. Enough air cover came in to drive the enemy back to their sanctuary in the Z (short for DMZ, aka the Demilitarized Zone), where we couldn't chase them, allowing the hostilities to come to a pause. I got reprieved. Though there were plenty of fights before and after (OMG, you should've seen September 3, 1967, at Dong Ha. OMG.), that particular engagement, where I never even came within shooting range of the action, scared me the most.
It was a tough way to become a citizen of the United States, but become a bona-fide, card-carrying American, I did. Having come over from the shambles of post-war Europe in 1950 with my parents and baby sister, I probably was naturalized along with them a few years later. Just to make sure, though, I enlisted in the Marines to pick up an automatic naturalization via that route. For all these many years since then I never gave the fact of my naturalized status a second thought. Then along came Trump. I just about couldn't believe it when he made a point last February about wanting an immigration policy that favored educated and skilled emigres. If that were the policy back when I checked in at Ellis Island, my barely educated family of eastern Mediterranean (Greek and Armenian) "po' folk" would have been locked out. And that would have been a shame, because, all modesty abandoned, I doubt that a more proudly American family could have been nurtured by this country, native born or not.
More specifically, I doubt that the state of South Dakota could have turned out a more productive and contributing family. I often wonder if most South Dakotans know how many immigrants are a part of the modern fabric of this state. According to the American Immigration Council, twelve percent of our state's manufacturing workers are immigrants. Ten percent of our state's building maintenance workers are immigrants. Turkey processors in Huron now employ several hundred ethnic-Karen refugees from Myanmar. Given the nature of the work, I'm sure many of these people don't have education and skills levels that would conform to an immigration policy that shuns the untutored. According to the AIC, nearly 60% of South Dakota's immigrant population has a high-school diploma or less, the "or less" faction making up about 35% of the new arrivals. Keeping these people out of South Dakota's labor pool would make a tight situation even worse for employers who chronically struggle to deal with our labor shortage.
And, writing as the son of those in the "or less" category, the children of these families stream into the general population with educations and ambitions that have made this country what it is. Sorting out the good from the bad is one thing, a mandatory thing, but to deny the U.S.A. its historic source of energy by being overly restrictive about who gets to enter this country is a rejection of a success story that is the American experience.