I am so deeply impressed by Donald Trump’s policy concerning immigrants that I have decided to share with you some pieces of my personal history.
I am Spanish, and I live in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2009, in a small village called Kanzenze, in the Southern province of Lualaba. My parents are both Spanish, but my middle name is French because although my great-grandfather was born in Italy, his family was from France. And they had Bohemian origins. Our great-great-grandmother was Irish. I remember my Dad telling us that she arrived in Spain because of the persecution against Catholics. Taking a step back, it seems that one of our ancestors took part in the Haitian revolution in favor of black people in the 18th century.
I am the youngest in a family of three brothers and two sisters. My parents thought that it was good for us to learn languages, so since we were eleven or twelve they would send us to different countries during the summer holidays. I remember when my three brothers went to the US for the first time, for a two-months stay. They were sent to families we did not know. I was 9-years-old, and I remember my Dad talking us about the Unites States. He told us that they were a great Nation because they had welcomed everybody. Dad told us that during II World War, they had taken in many Jewish people and many others running away from Hitler. This is not the end of the story. One of my brothers was sent to an American family from Indian origin. It was the very first time one of us was going to live in such a different context… and I remember my Mum’s words: whether they are Christian or not, whether they live like we do or not… I only ask you one thing, which is to be for them a son. They were really happy with my brother so, some months later, they came to Majorca (where we were living at the moment) to visit us. The first thing that surprised us is that, when entering home, they took off their shoes. I have to confess that I thought of America mixed with hamburgers, films and other commonplaces, and that I discovered that you could be American – as we can be human beings, in many different ways.
When studying the American History, I soon realized that the United States have been built, to a great extent, thanks to millions of immigrants coming from different places. As President Kennedy said:
“I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equals, where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice, where there is no Catholic vote, no-anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind, and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and the pastoral levels, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood”.
This is why I am so sad today when I learn about Donald Trump’s policy.
I would like to underline two facts from American history. During the racial segregation, which is one of the saddest episodes in the history of the Nation, many people committed huge crimes and injustices. But many Americans fought in favor of freedom. And where I am living in now, American policy involved in the mining business in the Democratic Republic of Congo is partly encouraging exploitation and corruption… but, on the other side of the coin, many others are working for a fairer system. With these two examples, and I could have used many others, I want to say that I am not pro-American in a blind way. But we cannot forget what Pope Francis said to the American Congress in September 2015:
“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants (…) We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best”.
During one of my stays in Ireland, I had the chance to stay with an old lady who was daughter of one of those who led the Irish independence movement after the Easter Rising in 1916. If you have seen the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley you can make yourself an idea of the painfulness of that process. I remember one night, around the fire, with a cup of tea, we were talking about a recent visit we had made together to visit the different places concerning history, specially the jail were the rebels were executed and also some hills where they were killed. Suddenly, she began to talk about her grandchildren, and I thought she just wanted to change subject. Instead, she told me that she was grateful for the possibilities that Great Britain was giving to her grandchildren. During the difficult years of the economic Irish crisis, some of them had left the country in search for a better life. And after all, she offered me her conclusion: “We can’t live with fear or hate in our hearts, we must be able to live together in this world”.
I think that Donald Trump should better reflect on American History, on its present and future. As it is stated in the Declaration of Independence (4th July 1776):
“all men are created equal (…) they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
I hope so before it is too late.