Standing up to divisiveness, providing aid for immigrant families

Thursday, July 25, 2019
The James Irvine Foundation logo, which features a white flower on an orange square background to the left of their spelled out name. Posted to accompany their statement, Standing up to divisiveness, providing aid for immigrant families.

Leaders from all quarters of our state and nation are standing up to racist and divisive rhetoric that seeks to divide America for political purposes. We stand with them.

“Send them back” – and other jeers and taunts – do not belong in our civic dialogue. These words are polarizing, traumatic, and dangerous.

These tactics divide us – and tear at the fabric of our country, woven from the many waves of newcomers who, while bringing diverse experiences, perspectives, and cultures, seek freedom and the American dream of a better life for their families.

Unfortunately, fear and vilification of immigrants have a long history in our country. Like most of you, my family came to the U.S. in search of the American Dream. I vividly recall my mother recounting stories of being ostracized and bullied, as a first-generation Italian immigrant in New York, including being told to “go back to where you came from.” I will not hear “go back” like my family once did, and for that very reason I feel compelled to speak out when newcomers to America are ostracized and threatened.

California can pave the way for national healing in the years ahead. Our state confronted, and overcame, anti-immigrant sentiment in the 1990s; we now have some of the most effective immigrant integration policies in America. Our civic leaders, community volunteers, and nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to assist newcomers to the U.S. because we are an inclusive and welcoming state.

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