Why, Indeed, Do We Want Them?

I cannot resist one more response to the president’s remarks.

Tire Fire
Many third-world nations lack basic infrastructure such as paved roads, and environmental/safety regulations to prevent disastrous fires and/or pollution. But this photo was made in Oklahoma, near the center of the United States.
(Copyright © 2005 by Wil C. Fry.)

I already wrote about how “shithole” wasn’t the worst thing he said — that the real stain here is the racist desire to import more white Nordic folk while keeping out as many black/brown people as possible.

What he said, one more time (sources: CNN and The Washington Post):

“Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here? … Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? … Why do we need more Haitians? … We should have more people from Norway.”

Why indeed?

Yes, empathy is part of it — we can see their plight and help. Bringing in refugees from war-torn nations or hurricane-ravaged islands can go a long way toward making the U.S. great “again”. Surely, those from the most broken regimes on the planet are the ones who most need a hand up — a safe, clean, healthy place to live; a solid public education with a more-than-even chance of college afterward; health care; the chance to succeed in the world.

(Norway, Trump’s suggested source of immigrants, ranks among the world’s happiest countries year after year. Last year, it was number one. Norwegians — as a group — answered Trump with a resounding “no way”. “We are not coming. Cheers from Norway,” one woman wrote. “We respectfully decline the opportunity,” one government official said when contacted by Reuters. Some of them outright called the U.S. a “shithole”: “Of course people from Norway would love to move to a country where people are far more likely to be shot, live in poverty, get no healthcare because they’re poor, get no paid parental leave or subsidized daycare and see fewer women in political power. #Shithole.”)

But empathy isn’t the only thing. And our government can’t be expected to have it.

Let me tell you a story.

Generational Poverty
Third-world nations are often known for generational poverty, which keeps the population from building enough wealth to maintain basic dwellings. But this image comes from a city in Oklahoma.
(Copyright © 2007 by Wil C. Fry.)

The absolute best person I’ve ever known is my wife. Some of you already know she’s a first-generation American. Her parents were both born in Haiti — one under the U.S. backed presidency of Antoine Louis Léocardie Élie Lescot, and the other under U.S. backed President Paul Magloire. My wife’s mother is one of 10 children. Like all Haitians, they were the descendants of slaves. All fled Haiti to the U.S. during the tumultuous rule of the Duvalier family. They learned English. They got jobs. They paid taxes and rent. They raised American children.

Of that generation — my wife’s parents, aunts and uncles — one enlisted in the U.S. Army, several worked their way into banking and finance, one worked for a major health insurance corporation for 30 years, and others work for the U.S. government. None of them drew welfare.

One of their children grew up to be my wife.

Before that, though, she won admittance to one of our nation’s most elite high schools — a school that boasts a record eight Nobel Prize prize winners, eight Pulitzer Prize winners, six winners of the very exclusive National Medal Of Science, two recipients of the Turing Award (the top prize in computer science), two Academy Award winners, and two winners of the Primetime Emmy Awards. Then she graduated from one of the U.S.’s top 100 colleges — with a distinguished alumni list of its own. Getting that bachelor’s degree put her among the top third of U.S. residents; she went on to get a Master’s Degree at NYUfewer than 10% of Americans go so far in their education.

In a third-world country, one expects to see dirt/gravel roads within city limits, with little-to-no upkeep of city facilities or public property — also structures that were partially completed and then abandoned for decades. But this photo is also from Oklahoma.
(Copyright © 2007 by Wil C. Fry.)

Her cousins — all children of immigrants from Haiti — all went to college, and all received degrees. 100%. They now hold jobs in the following positions/fields: police detective for the NYPD, writer, major airline, medical doctor, mechanical engineer (at a major tool-making firm), elementary education, store manager for a national retail chain, information security for global electronic gaming company, sales and PR for a global food distribution corporation, human resources for international healthcare company, and a division 2 college football star. Zero percent of them are unemployed, on welfare, or “mooching” off our system. Zero. All of them are multi-lingual.

Some of them married people born in other “shithole” countries. Those in-laws include a doctor, a real estate agent, an app systems engineer for Wells Fargo, a nurse, and a licensed clinical social worker.

I met my wife near the end of her NYU education and “rewarded” her by convincing her to come to Oklahoma — a “shithole” if I’ve ever seen one:

Oklahoma ranks near the bottom in new mental health study (NewsOK)
Oklahoma Near the Bottom in U.S. Health Rankings, High in Uninsured (Insurance Journal)
Oklahoma Ranks Near the Bottom in Kids Count Report
Oklahoma ranks near bottom of gender equality list (Washington Times)
Oklahoma far from ‘the best’ in new state rankings report from U.S. News & World Report (KFOR News)
Oklahoma ranks near the bottom in child care worker pay (Tulsa World)
Oklahoma Is Ranked Third-Worst In Safety (Fox25 News)
Study: Oklahoma has fifth-worst economy in the United States (Fox25 News)
Oklahoma Ranks Near Bottom In Educational Technology Study (News On 6)
Oklahoma ranks well below national average for academic achievement, school spending (NewsOK)

Oklahoma is also (U.S. News): 48th in adult dental visits, 48th in infant mortality rate, 46th in overall mortality rate, #44 in graduation from 4-year colleges, #45 in national math scores, 49th-worst incarceration rate, 46th-worst bridge quality, #45 in public transportation usage, #43 in households with internet access, #42 in gender equality…

With a toughness and fierceness rarely seen, she went to work with the mentally ill in one of the poorest counties in the state, and later worked in one of the other poorest counties in the state. (She worked for a newspaper in her spare time, formatting and editing press releases, editing copy, covering local sporting events, and doing sports photography.) Once earning her license (LCSW), she applied for and was hired at a military hospital in Texas and now works at a cutting edge traumatic brain injury clinic on the largest U.S. military base in the world.

She worked overnight, weekends, and holidays to make our lives better. She maintained her poise and professionalism in the middle of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. Daily, she “supports our troops” by treating them. She reads three or four books a week.

Why, indeed, would we want people like that in our country? Because we’re not racist shitholes like our president.

  1. I also seem to recall reading somewhere else that your wife DROVE HERSELF TO THE HOSPITAL when she went into labor with one of your kids? As a man, I can’t imagine what that must have been like. (If I remember the story correctly, my mother called an ambulance when she went into labor with me, which is probably what I would do too.)

    Thank you for posting this. I wish there were statistics somewhere (I halfheartedly searched but didn’t find anything usable) showing the percentage of immigrants who work versus the percentage of native-born U.S. citizens who work. Based on my personal experience, the ratio would be telling — something like 90% for immigrants and 60% for native-born. Or the percentage of immigrants who draw benefits (unemployment, food stamps, etc.) versus the native-born who do so. Again, I think the numbers would show that it’s actually native-born white Americans who are a drag on the system.

    Your wife’s family sounds like an impressive bunch of people. Detective for the NYPD? Doctor? Engineer? And I don’t even know what this means: “information security for global electronic gaming company” — but it sounds very impressive.

    I also searched through your older blog entries and found this — about your wife’s cousin who played college football, winning back-to-back conference championships. A Google search brought up this, a 2017 story mentioning his name and that he’s been playing pro football too. While not the NFL, it’s still impressive.

    Yeah, our racist temporary president has a lot to learn about Haitian people.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      “…drove herself to the hospital…”

      Yes, for our son — she was at work when her water broke, closer to the hospital than to our house where I was, so she drove herself (against my advice). She had both children without anesthetic/epidural, and pretty much without breaking a sweat. She also recently had a breast biopsy and returned to work minutes afterward with a large bandage on her chest.

      “…your wife’s cousin who played college football…”

      Ah, yes, Jean-Daniel. He’s quite a guy. I actually hadn’t heard that he was playing pro ball, so that’s pretty cool. I remember the family was a bit disappointed when his NFL hopes were dashed. But the IFL is a paying league too…

      She won’t ever tell you these things, and certainly not to brag. I had to draw them out of her. Every time I think of her high school (where Neil DeGrasse Tyson went), I’m reminded that my wife is an intellectual superstar who only plays a working Mom on TV — or at least that’s what it seems like.

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