Alternative view of immigrants from the south

This is in response to a letter published Tuesday, July 2, titled “Round up illegals, send them away,” by Gail Henneman.

Oh, my dear Gail, I would very much like to talk with you about your experiences in the south of our country. I have spent the last 15 years teaching English as a Second Language in the southern desert of California, way south of Palm Springs, where immigrants live in sub-standard trailers and do backbreaking work in the fields picking our food.

We were inspired every day by these wonderful people. They came to our classes always tired and usually hungry. Since the work is seasonal and subject to weather conditions, the quality of their food varies. Some charitable groups provide periodic assistance.

Their attitude is beautiful. Like our own forebears before them, they love their children and will do the hardest work to give them a better life.

A recent refugee (I think from Honduras) said, “I left with my daughter because nothing grows there anymore.” Worn-out land? Climate-change damage? I don’t know. But I know that my great-grandparents left Ireland in the 1840s because nothing grew there anymore. There was no Ellis Island; they got off the boat and came in. Nobody wanted them; they were discriminated against in every way. They did know the language. They worked hard and they loved this country.

Later many immigrants, possibly yours, came through Ellis Island. Most had to struggle to learn English. They worked hard for their children’s sake, and they loved this country. Our current immigrants on the southern border have come to do work for which they are needed. Some are documented, some not. They are discriminated against in many ways. They work hard for their children’s sake, they struggle to learn English, and they love this country.

— Sister Carol Nolan, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods


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