The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Let's update our immigration laws


February 7, 2019

To The Eagle:

I’ve been thinking about immigration a lot these days. Here I sit in my nice house on Sunday morning looking at the lovely view I have of ‘my’ valley, thinking about the Indians who lived here first. I think I’m an immigrant, too.

I migrated from Indiana to West Virginia, to Texas, to Colorado and to Alaska, then to Seattle, then to Wahkiakum County. I had so many stories from other places that my neighbor, Bob Torppa, asked me one day where I was “really” from, but I didn’t know what to say. I thought about it and my best answer is that I’m from America. I’m a typical American who has moved from place to place because this country is so beautiful and full of opportunity. We are privileged here. As citizens we can go wherever we want in this country.

In Helena, Montana, a friend took me to their beautiful historic cemetery. We read names of the pioneer families who settled there and built lives that would support generations to come. But outside the fence, in the tall uncut grass, were many, many forgotten wooden markers that had fallen down. These early workers were brought over from China to work, but we don’t hear much about them. They were essentially “slaves” brought over to build the railroads and canneries, but their graves clearly show prejudice so early in our history. That cemetery still makes me very sad.

Every individual has their story about how they came here and why and when. Today some pass through and some stay. Immigrant families who settled this valley, whether they came from Finland, Sweden, or Norway, or wherever, are still part of my ‘immigrant’ community today because many of their descendants still live here. Some of my neighbors were born here, and some came from someplace else. Each has value and is important. tells me I am from Scotland, Wales, England and Denmark. So yes, I’m an immigrant, too. It seems to me there is still room in this country for people seeking a better, safer life. I hope we can work on bringing our immigration laws into the 21st century. Let’s not set criteria on who “deserves” to come here because of skin color, religion, or ethnicity. Who are we to judge others?

Let’s just get a handle on border security and move on to update immigration laws! I wonder if my ancestors could have become citizens if they had come to America today. But then again, why would they want to when they see us shutting down our government, ‘punishing’ federal workers who by law should be paid no matter what, and when we apparently can’t figure out how to live as Americans in peace with each other? “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Is that still on the Statue of Liberty or has that been removed and I just didn’t notice?

Karen Bertroch

Grays River


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