Coming to America…the right way


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Robert Wright’s review of my book captures the essence of my journey in America. 

“There is a right way and a wrong way, always choose the right way.”  Abraham Sabrin

On August 6, 1949, I arrived in America as a 2 ½ year old with my older brother and parents, Abe and Libby, who were the only members of their respective families to survive the Holocaust in their native Poland.  When our ship arrived in Manhattan on that hot day we were greeted by my mother’s aunt and uncle from Paterson, New Jersey. 

For my parents, World War II was effectively over for them in July 1944 when the Soviet army liberated their region of Poland. My father had been a partisan commander for a year before he was liberated with his fellow Jewish Poles. 

Many years after we arrived in America, my father told me he had the option of going to one of several countries–Australia, Israel, and Argentina, where his uncle lived.  He decided to come to America after the family migrated to West Germany in May 1946.  I was born a few months later. 

To come to America my father wrote his great aunt in early 1949 to obtain the proper documents which would allow us to become legal immigrants.  My father’s mother was raised by her aunt in America in the late 1890s and early 1900s.  She returned to Poland a few years later, got married and raised a family.  When my paternal grandmother told her husband what life was like in America he decided to stay in Poland.  Unbeknownst to them that decision would cost them their lives and those of all their children except their oldest child, my father. 

In West Germany my father was interviewed by a young American to make sure he was not a subversive because he had lived in communist Poland after the war.  The interviewer also asked my father about his wartime experience and wanted to know if he knew where airports were in the Soviet Union.  Dad told him there are airports in Moscow, Minsk, and other large cities.  Apparently, the interviewer wanted to know if Dad had knowledge of “secret” airports and bases. 

The bottom line:  Coming to America was a seamless experience for my parents who followed the rules.  They had family sponsors and financial support from one of the oldest refuge organizations in the world, HIAS.  We came through the front door.

The chaos at the US southern border is shameful and a humanitarian crisis for all the reasons that have been cited by numerous commentators during the past several years.

We can end the endless flow of migrants who are not following established rules with several common-sense policies:

·      Anyone that wants to come to America must be vetted in their native country or in Mexico, have a clean bill of health, and no criminal record.

·      After they are vetted, migrants can enter America if they have a sponsor—a family member, a social service organization, a business who will help them settle in America, so they are not a burden for taxpayers.  No taxpayers’ dollars for legal immigrants. 

·      Businesses and farmers who want to hire newly arrived immigrants would be responsible for their housing and other needs until they are financially independent.

·      Migrants who do not follow these rules would be deported if they commit a crime, have a criminal record, which would be discovered if they were apprehended for some reason by the police or other law enforcement authority or have a communicable disease and show up at a hospital where they would be treated and then deported. 

·      Migrants who do not follow these simple rules to come to America but find housing, work and are peaceful would have permanent resident status and could not become US citizens. Period.  That means no millions of new voters for either for the Democrats and Republicans.  (After five years of being legal immigrants my parents became US citizens in November 1953. In other words, if a migrant’s goal is to become a US citizen, follow the rules, just as tens of millions of Americans have done for more than 200 years.  Is that asking too much of anyone who wants to live the American Dream?

Solving contentious issues like immigration requires common sense and adhering to the rule of law.  Open borders or closing the borders are not viable solutions. 

My family’s experience is the template for a humane immigration policy. 

Murray Sabrin, PhD, is emeritus professor of finance, Ramapo College of New Jersey. Dr. Sabrin is considered a “public intellectual” for writing about the economy in scholarly and popular publications. His new book, The Finance of Health Care: Wellness and Innovative Approaches to Employee Medical Insurance (Business Expert Press, Oct. 24, 2022), and his other BEP publication, Navigating the Boom/Bust Cycle: An Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide (October 2021), provides decision makers with tools needed to help manage their businesses during the business cycle.  Sabrin’s autobiography, From Immigrant to Public Intellectual: An American Story, was published in November, 2022.

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