To the editor:
(re: “How’s the ‘right to shelter’ going?” Sept. 7)
The author of a recent letter to the editor states that he has no compassion for today’s immigrants because his own family had it worse.
People often believe that their ancestors came to the United States legally. However, unlike now, the borders were wide open back then. Up through the 19th century, almost any white person from northern Europe who managed to stay in the United States for five years could become a citizen without much scrutiny.
In 1880, the United States passed laws to exclude Asian people. We only started patrolling the border in 1920, and only to keep non-white people out.
Mr. Gordon is right about one thing: many immigrants then lived in despair. Jacob Riis documented New York City’s filthy slums, where many immigrant children died of preventable disease. Subjecting them to lives of hunger and poverty did not deter the massive waves of immigrants. It just kept them from finishing school.
We have changed our laws since those bad old days. We are the richest country and city in the world, and leaving children to starve in our streets seems wrong to us now. The “sanctuary city” issue is irrelevant to our current situation because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cannot deport these migrants anyway.
Under U.S. law, immigrants are entitled to an asylum hearing with a judge before they can be deported, no matter how they entered. City and state law require that anyone who requests shelter must be given a decent bed.
You feel that these laws are too generous since, as you wrote, you have no compassion. But that is the law.
If you want thousands of hungry immigrant children begging in our streets again, you should put it up for a vote.
Republican politicians are deliberately making the migrant situation worse, in hopes that voters will mistakenly blame Democrats instead. Even Republicans representing New York are blocking federal funds to help us house immigrants.
Republicans in Congress are refusing to cooperate on reforming outdated immigration laws. And it is now official Republican policy to send tens of thousands of migrants to New York City on buses.
If Republicans win this next election, you can count on Trump and the red states sending hundreds of thousands of migrants here to punish us for our decency.
Stop the Republican sabotage. Vote a straight Democratic ticket to fix the migrant situation!