Recently I submitted a DNA sample to one of the popular genetics testing companies. My first purpose was to find any genetic health dispositions I may have. Fortunately, there were no health surprises but the richness of my ancestry was another story. Sparing lots of detail I was able to determine my ancestors arrived in America in the late 1700’s as indentured servants from Scotland and Ireland. The English overlords put them into controlled villages where they lived and worked, along with African slaves and Native Americans.
While the majority of the people in these controlled villages in early America were not there by choice, their back-breaking work and efforts effectively created this country. The stream of immigrants into this land now called America over the last 400 plus years melded to become the wonderful mosaic of our country. Please understand this in no way obviates the significance or impact on Native American history or culture of this so-called immigration into North America.
Country borders no longer define boundaries for culture, goods production or commerce as it once did. Technology has enabled the transport of goods, data, services and to a certain extent talent across the globe in seconds or days. What technology has not done, however, is equally provide for the opportunity of basic human rights, the freedom from tyranny and oppression and the individual rights offered, for instance, by our U.S. Constitution. We have millions of people each year fleeing their home country because of persecution based on race, religion, gender, political beliefs or, frankly, the need to simply feed their family and provide for basic needs.
We must understand at least two things: First, we are a country of immigrants who provided invaluable diversity of thought, culture and economic value to our country. Secondly, 55 percent of the privately held start-up companies in the USA were founded by recent immigrants. And 43.8 percent of the “New American Fortune 500” companies for 2022 were founded by immigrants or their children.
All of this said, I believe we need to quickly remove the barriers to entry into the United States of those immigrants seeking freedom from persecution or simply a better life for their families. Secondly, as related to the State of Georgia, we need to make it easier for all immigrants to get legal rights to work and to get basic needs such as a driver’s license. Lastly, we should make it easier, not harder, to enable the very people who have made our country what it is today to do such things as go to college using “in state” tuition rates for those living in Georgia. Legislation to correct this is before our legislature this year (again). Please let your state representative and senator know the importance of this matter.
We are all enriched by diversity of talents and thought and culture. As we celebrated MLK Day this month, I have a dream that Georgia can be receptive to all peoples simply trying to make a better life for their families. And in the process they will enrich our state both culturally and economically.