A Country of Immigrants

Bill Neinast


We are a country of immigrants.  Everyone residing within the borders of the U.S.A. is either a current immigrant--legal or illegal--or the descendant of an immigrant.  Even today’s Indians, Native Americans, First Americans, or whatever they may be called, are considered to be descendants of immigrants.  Their ancestors came from what is now Russia and Siberia and crossed a land bridge over the Bering Straits into what is now Alaska

With that history of immigration, why is there such a hue and cry over immigrants today? Donald Trump wants to bar all Muslims from entering the country and talks about those immigrants from south of the border being murderers and rapists.

The Donald, of course, is never wrong, so he would dismiss with some vulgar expressions two things that recently crossed my desk.

One was an article in the Sunday edition of The Banner-Press.  The headline is, “Undocumented immigrant on track to be teacher.”  So what is so spectacular about that?

The answer is in the sub-headline, “17-year old undocumented immigrant on track to be Dallas School District ‘s youngest teacher.”

Melissa Simon was three years old when she and two siblings were brought across the Rio Grande by their parents.  Neither parent had the equivalent of a high school education.

This month she will graduate from Samuell Early College High School.  She earned enough college credits there to graduate with an associates degree from Eastfield College.  This will make her eligible for “TechTeach, the teacher education program at Texas Tech” and a bachelors degree in bi-lingual education in a little over a year.

Dallas students in that program are committed to teach in Dallas ISD for two years.  So Melissa will start teaching at age 19 in a school district where at  least 1,430 students are 19.

If Trump becomes President, will he send this undocumented immigrant back to Mexico to grow old as she waits for a visa?

The other immigrant story crossing my desk originated in house, so to speak.  My son and daughter-in-law, Will and Cindy, established a scholarship fund in honor of their daughter Alysa, who died in a tragic automobile accident on her 23rd birthday.

This year’s recipient is Mehrdad Hosseini from Iran.  When you hear this young immigrant’s story, you will understand why and how he won the scholarship.

Mehrdad was brought to Dallas (with a visa) four years ago when he was 14.  He could not speak or understand English. 

Then, in his own words, “That summer was the most depressing summer of my life because I didn’t know anyone in my new school, and I could not find new friends.  On August 27, 2012, my parents left me with 10,000 dollars, a bike, and an apartment to pay for.  When I sat in the Algebra class, my benevolent teacher, Mr. Davis, started asking questions on the board which made everyone think for a few minutes.  I knew the answer as soon as he asked, but I couldn’t speak.  Since that day, I had two motivations for learning English: to impress my teacher and to obtain a job.  So I began studying English two to three hours a day, and after four months, I finally possessed the ability to speak with my classmates and my Algebra teacher….” 

This is just part of Mehrdad’s two page application for the scholarship.  It is so well written that my thoughts as I read it were that this could not have been written by someone who could not read or write English four years ago.  Those doubts were put to rest, however, when I read the accompanying recommendation from Matthew T. Fields, Science Department Chair, Pearce High School, Dallas ISD, who noted that the only reason Mehrdad  was not in the top tier of his graduating class was his lack of English competency during his first two years in the class.

Mehrdad’s goal is to become a cardiovascular surgeon.  

He is an Iranian, so he probably is a Muslim. There is no reference to religion in his application, but Will says he did refer to “the Almighty” in his acceptance speech which drew a standing ovation from the audience.

So here’s the perspective.

Turn now to Page 2 of the same issue of The Banner-Press that reported on that illegal immigrant Melissa Simon.  There you will find the pictures of five young men who were born in Texas along with descriptions of why they are in the local jail.

So let’s go along with Trump and send Melissa back to Mexico and Mehrdad back to Iran so that there will be room for these five fine Texans to roam and pillage.


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