For years now, Donald Trump and others have rightfully railed about the dangers of illegal immigration, pointing out the harm it does and how unfair it is to the people who went through the difficult process to come here legally.
But now it has become clear Trump and certain “leaders” in Washington are not just against illegal immigration, but any kind of immigration.
President Trump recently endorsed a bill filed by two senators that would cut in half the number of people allowed to legally immigrate to the United States each year. The bill would introduce a “points system” that would control who is allowed in, and who is kept out.
In short, it would require those seeking to come here to already speak English. It would greatly favor those with skills and special distinctions. It would greatly reduce the number of family members those already here could bring over on visas.
For example, the spouse of someone here on a “Green Card” would still be allowed to join their partner along with their minor children. But grown children, siblings, even grandparents? They would be severely restricted.
It is the most anti-immigrant, anti-people, anti-family piece of legislation favored by a US President in my lifetime. It spits in the face of the America I was brought up to know and love, as well the families of those immigrants who built this country.
The President says the proposed bill will prevent legal immigrants from collecting welfare for the first five years. He apparently does not know that is already the case under the existing law. But let’s not allow facts to override politics, right?
My grandfather came to this country from Madeira. He did not speak English. He had no particular skill set other than a desire to support his family, better their lives, and become an American. If the rules President Trump favors were in existence then, it is unlikely he could have accomplished any of those things.
He worked here for years to afford to bring his family over. Several of his children eventually served in the US military. One grew up to run a successful neighborhood store for decades.
Another – my father – did not speak English when he started school in Norton. But he completed four years of high school in three years, joined the army, served in Korea, put himself through college, started a family, and became a CPA and senior vice president for the largest bank in New England.
Not bad for people who came here unable to speak the language, with no special skills. But President Trump would have kept them out.
When we needed immigrants in America to do jobs we could not or would not do, we portrayed ourselves as the shining beacon of freedom in the world. They helped us fill the “low-skilled” labor jobs which to this day remain critical to the success of this nation. In return, we gave them the freedom to be themselves and become Americans.
Now we accuse them of “taking” jobs from Americans. We blame them for low wages. That “shining beacon” of freedom is more like the blinking light of a motion detector alarm, warning us someone is where we don’t want them to be.
This pompous, arrogant, ignorant President is harnessing hatred for political purposes. He only wants immigrants if they conform to what he and those like him think they should be.
The people who immigrate here legally are an asset Mr. President, not a liability. We need more like them, and quite frankly — fewer with your prejudice and hatred and narrow-minded view of the world.
I write this to honor my grandparents, my uncles and aunts, and my father. They never stepped away from their Portuguese heritage, but still became true Americans. Donald Trump and those sponsoring this awful bill cannot seem to understand that. Or even worse — just don’t give a damn.
But those words on the Statue of Liberty still speak to us today:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me … Perhaps President Trump will add to the plaque: “But only if they are highly-skilled and speak English”.
Kind of gives you goosebumps, doesn’t it?
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and proud son of a legal immigrant. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.