Letter: Immigrants contribute more than ‘merit’ to America

(Richard Drew | AP file photo) The original torch and flame are displayed in the new Statue of Liberty Museum, on Liberty Island, in New York, Monday, May 13, 2019.

When I read about the proposal to base immigration on the “merit” of the immigrant I cannot help but think of my grandfather. He came to this country in the early part of the last century. He was able to immigrate because of an uncle who had a floral business and employed him in the greenhouse.

What makes my grandfather’s story particularly meaningful to me is that he was the youngest of six children when his father died. This was in Victorian England, where there was no social safety net. Because there was no help for children or widows, my grandfather and his siblings were put in a workhouse despite my grandfather being only 2 years old.

His was not a life of awards and wealth, although he was generous in support of worthy causes. He grew up with a love of music and a sensitive, self-possessed nature. He worked hard up into his eighties. Even though he had two sons of his own, he took in four nieces and nephews so they would have a stable family life.

This quiet gentleman meant the world to me. I suspect if you looked at his application for immigration through the proposed immigration merit-based rules, he would be rejected. Wouldn’t it be a shame to have lost this lovely man’s contribution to our society?

I suspect if we all looked at our immigrant ancestors, we would find that very few would meet the proposed merit bar.

This country’s genius is to allow those who are excluded from advancement in their own country to spread their wings and soar in this brilliant melting pot.

Rolayne Fairclough, Salt Lake City

Submit a letter to the editor