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Immigration Obfuscation

Immigration Obfuscation
Armenian refugees in Syria (1915-1916) (Photograph: Public Area/Close to East Foundation)

I learn with curiosity the article titled “The place do Descendants of Immigrants Stand on Trendy Immigration?” written by Brent Currie and revealed in the Armenian Weekly on September 11, 2019. For years now I and, I might guess, many different Armenians have read interviews with Mark Krikorian, Government Director of the Middle for Immigration Research, and pondered how a grandson of Genocide survivors might probably voice such anti-immigration views as “If You Want Much less Revenue Inequality, Then Implement Immigration Legal guidelines” [@MarkSKrikorian September 13, 2019].

Krikorian thinks immigration encourages nationalism. He has attended workshops by John Tanton and termed a racist by the Southern Poverty Regulation Middle. He was towards the Dream Act, which might have granted permanent residency to immigrants who entered the nation as youngsters. Truly, he want to stop most immigration, admitting only Einsteins and perhaps those married to residents. He supports Trump’s policy of deporting any “unlawful aliens” discovered within the US (”in order that they don’t put down roots in America” (New Republic, June 19, 2019). This consists of asylum seekers who are operating from violent spouses or violent criminals. (One victim of home violence was murdered by her spouse as quickly as she was removed from america.) The Southern Poverty Regulation Middle has designated his organization (CIS) an anti-immigrant hate group “for its repeated circulation of white nationalist and antisemitic writers in its weekly publication and the commissioning of a coverage analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Basis for his embrace of racist pseudoscience.” [] 

Krikorian argues that as we speak’s immigrants ought to be rejected as a result of while the supplicants making an attempt to enter stands out as the similar, our country is now totally different. His argument: immigration weakens our national id (although it’s unclear what he thinks that’s) and limits alternatives for our upward mobility. But, in fact, he neglects the fact that immigrants aren’t usually competing with residents for jobs; they typically deal with jobs that the majority People don’t need. With out immigrant assist, strawberries rot in the ground, summer time resorts can’t open, nail salons shut, sewing machines are unmanned, taxi drivers are more durable to seek out, the record goes on. Nor are immigrants overrunning our country. In accordance with (yes, that Bush), immigrants solely account for 13.5 % of the full inhabitants. Virtually 12 million staff are employed by Fortune 500 corporations began by immigrants, and they’re extra more likely to have school degrees than native-born People. Those who don’t are prepared to start out at the bottom—witness Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, at one time an undocumented immigrant who began by choosing tomatoes, corn and broccoli and is now a brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital. Armenians ought to recognize this trajectory: it was adopted by a few of our grandparents and great grandparents once they first got here to the US. 

So what is that about—this hatred, perhaps worry, of immigrants? It is definitely not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the same sort of conduct was evident after the Armenian Genocide. The truth that Krikorian’s household immigrated here safely is extra a fluke of historical past than proof of a nation’s humanistic immigration insurance policies. As we’re fond of saying, America is a land of immigrants—having made brief work of the indigenous individuals who received here first. Our doorways have been comparatively open to immigrants, especially these of European heritage, for many years. Between 1880 and 1920, People took in more than 20 million immigrants. Nevertheless, xenophobia boiled over by 1917 as America entered the warfare, and the US passed the Immigration Act of 1917 that established a literacy requirement for immigrants and stopped immigration from most Asian nations. Between the late 1880s to 1914, over 50,000 Armenians immigrated to the US via Ellis Island, but once the warfare started, immigration turned nearly unimaginable.

It isn’t an accident that the Armenians have been abandoned by the west throughout and after the Genocide. As soon as the struggle was over, the US misplaced no time is cozying up to Turkey who controlled access to Mosul oil. Certainly, an early and infamous instance of “pretend information” titled “Turkey Reinterpreted” was written by US Rear Admiral Colby M. Chester and revealed within the New York Occasions September concern of Present Affairs to mute tales of the determined fate of the Armenians through the Genocide so america would not turn towards the Turkish government:  

The Armenians in 1915 have been moved from the inhospitable regions where they were not welcome and couldn’t truly prosper to probably the most pleasant and fertile a part of Syria…the place the local weather is as benign as in Florida and California whither New York millionaires journey yearly for well being and recreation. This was executed at great expense of cash and energy. 

Colby was the admiral who controlled the fleet within the waters off Smyrna in 1922 and beneath whose direct orders US naval personnel have been prevented from saving the desperate Armenians and Greeks who had thrown themselves into the ocean to flee the fires that the Turks had set in the metropolis. This admiral knew the truth. It was simply inconvenient when getting wealthy is the objective. In October 1922 Albert MacKenzie within the New York Occasions Present History refuted Chester’s comments, calling them “pernicious,” which in fact they have been. MacKenzie doesn’t pull a punch: he assaults Chester’s assertions with the readability and energy of 1 who spent eight months touring the interior of Turkey after the Genocide, pleading with the authorities to allow the “spectres that have survived” to be taken to the American hospital. “Oftentimes permission was refused.” The Turkish Inspector “begrudged them their lives.” One by one MacKenzie obliterated Chester’s assertions together with his own direct expertise. This is no “benign” climate, for instance; that is the killing fields. Chester’s lies have been a deliberate scheme to vary the narrative with a view to curry favor with the Turks, and he and others acquired away with it, a lot so that when news began leaking out a decade or more later from Germany that Jews have been being attacked, the press was hesitant to report it on the entrance pages at first as a result of they didn’t need to be “fooled” once more. In 1915 we have been the “ravenous Armenians” in newspaper headlines concerning the Genocide. Whereas that did not affect US policy, it did produce some action within the nonprofit sector as People donated cash to save lots of Armenian youngsters from the “ravages of the Turkish sword” because the posters demonstrated. Nevertheless, as soon as the conflict was over, these stories stopped, and the deserts of Der Zor turned Florida seashore sand. Instantly the Turks have been our nation’s associates, and Armenians making an attempt to flee have been ignored. We now have been preventing this “pretend information”—numerous forms of genocide denial—for over a century.

Until 1921 US immigration regulation was comparatively generous. While being “oriental” was a distinct disadvantage, as seen within the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act (which affected Armenians at one point till they “proved” in courtroom that they have been Caucasian), the country didn’t have a quota system—until 1921. In that yr an immigration regulation was handed that set numerical limits on who might enter the US: immigration was restricted to 3 % per yr of US residents from their nation of origin as of the census of 1910. In 1924 when the act was revised, those figures have been modified to 2 % based mostly on the census of 1890, making immigration even more troublesome. On December 20, 1921 the Related Press in Washington revealed a narrative that demonstrated the tragic results of this restrictive immigration coverage: 17 Armenians, ladies and youngsters, have been murdered in Constantinople. That they had come to america to seek security however have been deported back to Turkey as being in extra of the quota. Among them have been the mother and sister of a younger Armenian scholar who was learning in Boston. 

Why go over this painful ground yet one more time: as a result of Mr. Krikorian needs to make distinctions between individuals then and other people now. He thinks that we’re totally different, that we can’t accept giant numbers of immigrants, that our financial system can’t take in such individuals. He should speak to the lodge house owners on the east coast, the farmers in California, the garden care personnel in American suburbs. I’m singling out Krikorian as a result of he makes himself fairly the target, but I’ve heard other Armenians voice such opinions, and I find this surprising. Much more necessary than jobs or racial tensions or nationalistic fervor is what many of us simply can’t settle for: caging young children, allowing individuals to die in our custody and sending innocent individuals back to their house nations to die whose solely “crime” is making an attempt to save lots of their lives and people of their relations. If being genocide survivors confers anything upon us, it must be empathy. Without that no necessary lessons have been discovered—by anybody.

Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy

Dr. Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy is a retired professor and chair of the Division of Writing at Ithaca School. She is presently a visiting English professor at UMass Amherst and a current fellow at the College of Massachusetts Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in Humanities from Syracuse College and studied beneath Jacqueline Rose in Cornell’s Faculty for Criticism and Principle. She has revealed scholarly articles as well as personal essays and poetry in such journals as Raft, edited by Vahe Oshagan, the Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Ararat, edited by her mentor Leo Hamalian. She has revealed scholarly articles, personal essays, poetry and three books: Writing and Therapeutic: Towards an Knowledgeable Follow, co-edited with Charles Anderson, The Mind’s Eye: Picture and Reminiscence in Writing About Trauma, and Sacred Justice: The Voices and Legacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis. She has given many talks on Operation Nemesis and inter-generational trauma for Armenian communities and schools and universities.

Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy

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