I want to talk to immigrants for a minute.
Over the nearly 15 years I've practiced immigration law, I've heard prejudiced statements that would fit right in to what we've been hearing over the past 18 months.
An educated Pakistani woman once told me, "We tried to help her, but you know how those Spanish people are," referring to a proud Latina. A Turk self-righteously complained to me once about all the "black guys smoking weed" across the hall. A Saudi businessman gleeful that a bunch of Filipino workers could be hired at "$200 - $300 a month." A Ghanaian who assured me that another Ghanaian was lying because she could tell the man's tribal affiliation from the shape of his head. An Ivorian blaming Burkinabé for the accession of Ouattara, and a proud Burkinabé with similar contempt for Christian Ivorians. A Congolese slightly miffed when I asked which Congo she was from. A Bolivian mestizo complained to me about a fellow Quechua Bolivian saying they always victimize themselves. An Indian-origin Hong Konger with few redeeming things to say about mainland Chinese.
To quote our President-Elect: "Stop it."
Prejudice may be an easy way of comprehending the world around us, but it's a cop-out. These prejudices are a Godsend to those who benefit from a platform of division.
So STOP IT.
I wish I could show you what I see. The Iranian who loved when I paid cash with bills folded the way common in West Africa (four bills with the fifth folded over; aids in counting). The Latino who responded to my broken Spanish in broken Urdu. The Syrian and the Salvadorean weeping with joy after simply getting the chance to work. The Sunni who married a Shia and raised his daughters Shia. The Ghanaian who couldn't stop talking about Afghan kabob.
So dear immigrants: stop wondering why the Central American kids get work permits while you've waited 10 years for a green card in line. Stop thinking that your lengthy wait to bring your fiancée over gives you a soapbox to decry illegal immigration. If you had an option, consider yourself lucky: many people didn't. If you don't have an option, stop resenting people who did.
Stop blaming other immigrants and put the blame where it belongs: on the system.
You hear what I'm saying? Diversity is good; disorder is not. Our country is a cross-section of humanity like no other. We have a unique opportunity to work on a common purpose. That's right, the election has steeled my resolve. The spike in hate crimes steeled my resolve. The de jure suspicion on my people steeled my resolve. I hope you'll help.
If we are successful, that would be one American ideal I wish we'd export.
Hassan Ahmad, Esq.