150 years ago


To the editor:

On Saturday, June 30, county residents gathered on Tappan Square to focus attention on the need to keep families together. Among those present was a very little boy with a sign reading, “I belong with my mom.”

Young mothers with little children reminded me that on May 11, 150 years ago, my five-year old grandmother, Ida, had walked down the gangplank from the sailing ship that had carried her and 1,000 others across the Atlantic to the Port of New York. Her parents and her 60-year old grandmother, Stina, carried her two little brothers and the family’s meager possessions. None of them spoke a word of English and no individual welcomed them to America. They only had one another. In Sweden, the crops had failed in the three previous years and the resulting famine had driven Stina to sell her little farm and tiny farmhouse to finance the trip to America. America literally saved these refugees from starvation. I and many others are Americans because our country welcomed refugee families.

I find it hard even to imagine that Ida could have been separated from her family upon arrival in New York, and yet that is what happened to many hundreds of children 150 years later at our Southern border. The administration that implemented this tragedy needs to be removed and those legislators who over the years refused to generate a compromise immigration policy bear responsibility.

Don Hultquist