Re-education: Israel is The Jewish Homeland, Not Just A Safe Haven

The New York Times wrote an article about the massive number of migrants from Latin America coming first into Texas, then New York, and ultimately bused to Canada. It relayed the scary journey in search of a better life.

The harrowing trip concluded with a quote from a woman who traversed the many miles upon arriving in Canada, “‘This is going to be our Israel,’ Mrs. Ramirez said.” I’m sure she meant it in a positive way: that she had finally arrived in a safe haven, away from the tumult that had been her life. She considered herself like the Jews who had escaped the war in Europe, and arrived in the land of Israel.

Her universalizing the Jews and making her trek to her own “Promised Land” was not sinister but her trivialization calls for her education, and a re-education of the world regarding three important differentiators between refugees and migrants generally, and the unique story of the Jews.

Jews Were a Targeted Minority

Tens of millions of people from Latin America are seeking a better life, away from gang violence, broken economies, poverty and political corruption. Almost every citizen from the region is seeking peace and security that their native countries do not provide.

That is in sharp contrast to Jews.

The Jews who came to Israel from Europe around the Holocaust were specifically targeted for annihilation. They were not simply war refugees like millions of others who fled battle grounds but a persecuted minority ear-marked for ethnic cleansing.

The Jews from Arab Muslim lands were persecuted from the 1950s through 1980s, with governmental decrees and street pogroms. The general public did not flee their home countries in search of something better; they sought something better by driving Jews from their midst.

So it was in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Jews were singled out for persecution and had a particular need for salvation.

Israel is The Jewish Homeland

Venezuelans arriving in Canada have no roots in the land. They could have unpacked their bags as easily in Texas or Toronto.

But Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel. They have thousands of years of well-known history, including kings and judges who ruled in the land.

Further, Judaism is a unique religion which is tied to a specific piece of land. It is a particular religion for a specific people with commandments which can only be kept in their holy land.

The Need for Sovereignty

The migrants from around Latin America will be happy to settle in Seattle or Saskatchewan. They have no aspirations to remake their new countries, and will be happy to become Americans or Canadians. They just want rights and self-determination, and have no vision of transforming their new governments.

Not so for Jews in Israel.

Because of the persistence of anti-Semitism around the globe for centuries, modern Zionism concluded that Jews need more than a safe haven. Jews must be able to determine their future under a Jewish flag. History has shown that self determination without sovereignty would only yield a temporary respite from anti-Semitism.

Zionism is not a rally of charged nationalism but the reality born from relentless persecution.

Zionism is not a rally of charged nationalism but the reality born from relentless persecution.

First One Through

The story of the Jewish people and their Promised Land is captured in the most widely read book, replayed globally over the last two millennia. While migrants and refugees echoing those verses for personal reflection might therefore feel natural, remembering the uniqueness of the Jewish journey to the re-established Jewish State might curb the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism roaring around the world once more.

Related articles:

The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

The Lies Conflating the Holocaust and The Promised Land

The Jewish Holy Land

A Core Tenet of Zionism Is Combatting Anti-Semitism

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The Worst Title For An Editorial Slamming Biden’s Failed Immigration Policy

Brett Stephens is a right-of-center opinion writer for The New York Times. For the Times’ board and readership, he is probably viewed as a right-wing extremist from their far left vantage point. However, in the interest of appearing balanced, the paper gives him a platform to share his thoughts.

On September 21, 2022, Stephens lambasted the terrible failure of the Biden Administration’s handling of the border and immigration generally. He mocked the pathetic response of the dim-witted Vice President Kamala Harris to questions about the security of the border. He reviewed the statistics of the enormous spike of immigrant encounters at the United States’ southern border. He added a few pointed remarks:

  • “This was not an accident of policy. It was an intention.”
  • “This is political malpractice on multiple levels.”
  • “It undermines the case for the path to citizenship”
  • “a see-no-problem, admit-no-fault, disavow-the-consequences, and blame-the-last-guy border policy.”
  • “it makes a mockery of people like Vice President Kamala Harris and others making fools of themselves by trying to defend a visibly failed policy.”
  • “The crisis is a failure of liberalism, classic and contemporary. It calls into question the ability, or the willingness, of a Democratic president to solve a basic law-and-order issue”

Pretty scathing stuff. A full on assault of the Biden/Harris failure to secure the border and manage the influx of immigrants. Dereliction of duty, an abandonment of law-and-order.

One would imagine a headline for such a piece along the lines of “Biden And Harris Fail America – US Citizens And Immigrants”, or “Biden Administration Deliberately Refuses To Secure The Borders” or perhaps “Biden’s Political Malpractice Regarding The Border May Cost Him The Election”.

The Times would do no such thing.

Instead, the paper titled the hit piece with a rosy “The Border Crisis Could Still Be Biden’s Opportunity.” It was as if the left-wing outlet bemoaned that they had to run Stephen’s article, and hoped that readers would only read the headline, skip the actual article, and chant “Let’s Go Brandon,” but mean it as being supportive of Biden.

Is this the path to coexistence between right-and-left? Deliberately mislabeling opinions we don’t like rather than live with the dissonance?

The Grey Lady long ago moved away from its tagline “All The News That’s Fit To Print” to “All The Opinions Our Liberal Readers Want.” It now occasionally posts criticisms of Democrats, but paints it with lipstick hoping people won’t notice.

Related article:

The DSA, Kamala Harris and 53 Dead Migrants

Those Welcoming Refugees and Immigrants

Crises at the Borders

The Explosion of Immigrants in the United States

The DSA, Kamala Harris and 53 Dead Migrants

A terrible tragedy unfolded on the US-Mexico border, as 53 migrants were found dead in the back of a truck, who were being smuggled into the United States. It is being marked as the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history.

The tragedy is a function of a number of problems, principally, the swelling number of people attempting to come into the United States from Mexico illegally.

From 2010 through 2020, the number of people coming over the US-Mexico border was a fraction of what has been happening under the Biden administration. Pew Research, summarized the statistics from the US Borders and Customs Protection (CBP), and tracked that 2021 saw the migrants from Mexico jump to over 608,000 and from countries other than Mexico to well over 1 million. Those countries with dramatic increases included Ecuador, Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti and Cuba.

Texas has been particularly overwhelmed. Along the Rio Grande and Del Rio areas, migrant encounters are up over five times between 2020 and 2021.

And 2022 is seeing an even greater number of encounters – and fewer people being returned across the border.

According to the CBP, May 2022 had 239,416 migrant encounters, an all-time record, breaking the previous all-time record set in April. Only 42 percent of those were expelled, the lowest percentage since Title 42 was put in place. As a record number of people are coming across the border, a record number are also staying.

Amidst this onslaught, Present Biden requested eight percent LESS money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in his budget. The proposal also includes a request for fewer detention beds. This plan for fewer people to control the border and fewer detention beds is exactly the opposite of the needs for the situation on the ground.

These bad policies are voiced by members of the Democratic Socialists of America squad, including Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) who have all called to ‘Abolish ICE’. They have essentially cheered the lack of action by ‘Border Czar’ Kamala Harris‘s do-nothing approach.

Vice President and “Border Czar” Kamala Harris (right) with Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) (middle) who has called to ‘Abolish ICE’

The DSA is loudly calling to abolish ICE and lobbying government officials for ‘Open Borders‘ which helped fuel the surge at the border, as well as the Biden-Harris lack of action. It should be no surprise that such activities led to the enormous human tragedy witnessed in Texas. More tragedies are likely to continue.


Related articles:

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Those Welcoming Refugees and Immigrants

The Real Offensive Question of the US Census: Dominican or Cuban?

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If you Only Loved Refugees as Much as you Hate Donald Trump

Africans in Minnesota

The United States has always been a country of immigrants since its founding days. During the Industrial Revolution of the 1880’s to 1910 the wave of immigrants from Europe made the country have a large white majority. The push back against immigrants during World War I and the Great Depression mostly sealed U.S. borders for decades which only began to change meaningfully in the 1960’s.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 removed the quota system that capped immigration from each country, greatly benefiting non-European countries. While U.S. immigration in the 1960’s was split 75%, 9% and 5% for Europe, Latin America and Asia, respectively, by the 1980’s the continents of origin were 23%, 44% and 26%, respectively.

Africa has not been a major source of immigrants over the past 100 years. In 2018, just over 2 million of the country’s 44.7 million immigrants came from sub-Saharan Africa. While small, this figure has grown rapidly, from 691,000 in 2000 and 130,000 in 1980. The largest number of immigrants comes from Nigeria, the African country with the largest population, followed by Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya.

Many of these immigrants live in the large states, including New York, California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and New Jersey. Others have settled into smaller states including Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia.

But nowhere has the African immigrant population been felt as dramatically as in Minnesota.

Exhibit 1: Black Population, by Place of Birth

State Foreign-born US-born Multiple
Minnesota 27.4% 4.6%        5.96
Washington 6.5% 3.4%        1.91
Connecticut 16.5% 10.0%        1.65
Ohio 16.7% 12.2%        1.37
New York 19.4% 14.6%        1.33
Pennsylvania 14.3% 10.9%        1.31
Florida 15.9% 16.0%        0.99
Indiana 8.9% 9.6%        0.93
Maryland 26.8% 30.5%        0.88
New Jersey 11.7% 14.1%        0.83
Wisconsin 5.0% 6.4%        0.78
United States 9.5% 13.2%        0.72
Tennessee 10.6% 17.1%        0.62
Virginia 11.6% 20.2%        0.57
Georgia 18.6% 33.0%        0.56
North Carolina 9.2% 22.5%        0.41
Michigan 5.8% 14.4%        0.40
Alabama 8.1% 27.4%        0.30
Illinois 4.2% 15.7%        0.27
California 1.7% 7.3%        0.23
South Carolina 5.7% 27.7%        0.21
Louisiana 6.7% 33.5%        0.20
Mississippi 7.3% 38.8%        0.19

As seen on Exhibit 1, overall in the United States, Black people account for 13.2% of the U.S.-born population and 9.5% of the foreign-born population. In southern states like South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi, Blacks make up a significant percentage of the population, almost all being born in the United States. In several northern states like Ohio, Washington, Connecticut and New York, the Black population born in Africa is significant, surpassing the overall mix of U.S.-born Black people in the state.

In Minnesota, the immigrant population is driven by Blacks from Africa, accounting for six times the percentage of U.S.-born blacks in the state. While Africans account for under ten per cent of the overall US immigrant population, they account for 27.4% of the immigrant population in Minnesota, nearly three times the rate.

Exhibit 2: Foreign-born Population in Minnesota by Continent

Exhibit 2 shows how Africa’s share of the Minnesota immigrant community has grown from 4.3% in 1990 to 27.2% in 2018. Since 2000, it is the only region which has grown its share, reversing the trend even for immigrants from Latin America. It is the only state in the country with this phenomenon.

African-born immigrants have moved to Minnesota at a scale not seen anywhere else in the United States. The percentage far surpasses US-born Blacks and eclipses Latin American and European immigrants. In 2018, they helped elect the first immigrant from Africa to Congress, Ilhan Omar from Somalia. Will their numbers impact future elections as well?

Related First One Through articles:

The Explosion of Immigrants in the United States

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If a Black Muslim Cop Kills a White Woman, Does it Make a Sound?

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The Real Offensive Question of the US Census: Dominican or Cuban?

There is quite a bit of fuss about a particular question in the 2020 census.

Many Democrats are contending that a question asking about the citizenship status of people is an attempt to under-count Hispanics who are often not citizens and will be nervous to check off the “not a U.S. citizen” box in the form in fear of being deported. Many of these non-citizens live in urban areas which vote Democratic, and the Democratic politicians are looking to boost their weight in Congress and budgetary allocations so want to ensure as many people fill out the census forms in Democratic strongholds as possible. Anything which might hurt their personal politics is repulsive.

But the census forms are filled out anonymously. The forms specifically state that the information collected is private and confidential. Are the Democrats worried that the census results will show that the number of people in a census block is much lower than the number of voters, proving severe voting irregularities with many people voting in elections who are non-citizens? That there is a perfect correlation between high levels of non-citizens and newly minted “sanctuary cities”?

According to the US Census Bureau, the citizenship question has been asked for many years, “in 1820, 1830, 1870 and 1890 to present.” Why the sudden hullabaloo?

If people were really concerned about the Hispanic population and not their own politics, why not challenge the government asking about the origin of Hispanics? Why does it matter if someone came to the United States from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba or El Salvador? Will the government use a different dialect of Spanish in some forms? Will it change the meal plans at schools?

The census form has a distinct question about race, not related to the Hispanic question. The race question asks Asians to specify if they are Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese and other. That is understandable as each speaks different languages. Further, the government states that it asks questions about race to “evaluate government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all racial groups and to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws.” Seems fair enough.

But why does the form separate Hispanics into a different category outside of race? The Census Bureau clarifies:

“Though many respondents expect to see a Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish category on the race question, this question is asked separately because people of
Hispanic origin may be of any race(s) in accordance with the 1997 Office of Management and Budget standards on race and ethnicity.”

Are only Hispanics of mixed race? In the race question, respondents are allowed to check off more than one box (say, White and Black), but not so in the Hispanic question. That seems bizarre. A person cannot be both Cuban and Puerto Rican?

When the FBI reports on hate crimes – a pretty good indicator of whether there is discrimination in society – it doesn’t break down the details of “anti-Hispanic or Latino” into Cuban or Dominican, so why is there a need for so much granular detail in the census? In 2017, the number of hate crimes against Jews was more than against Hispanics, Arabs, Asians, Native Americans and Pacific-Islanders COMBINED. If the US government is really concerned about discrimination, why doesn’t the census ask questions about religion?

It is far more likely that the government is extracting details of the country of origin in the census as a matter of mapping international relations. More Mexicans in the US may mean reconsidering trade policy with Mexico, or changing the visa and immigration policy. If the US governments finds a spike in Hondurans in the United States, it might decide to either cap or relax immigration policy with Honduras, and similarly with each of the Latin American countries where the majority of US immigrants are coming from.

That’s a real concern for the Hispanic community which no one discusses.

If Democrats really cared about the Hispanic community and not about their own personal politics, it would attempt to abolish the census question which might limit immigration from Latin America, not the power of Democratic kingpins.

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25,000 Jews Remaining

The number 25,000 is both random and round. And it serves as a powerful marker of the Jewish population in cities and countries around the world; which are growing and which are disappearing.

17 Countries versus 34 (1948)

There are now 17 countries with over 25,000 Jews. That is half of the total that existed when Israel was founded in 1948.

Israel          6.6 million Jews
USA           5.7 million
France           453,000
Canada         391,000
UK                290,000
Argentina     180,000
Russia          172,000
Germany      116,000
Australia      113,000
Brazil             93,000
South Africa  69,000
Ukraine         50,000
Hungary        47,000
Mexico          40,000
Netherlands  30,000
Belgium        29,000
Italy               28,000

Most of the countries that dropped below the 25,000 level over the past 70 years were in Arab and Muslim countries including Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Iran, as those countries effectively expunged the Jewish populations due to anger over the founding of Israel. The total population from all of those Arab and Muslim countries now stands at 27,000, just north of the 25k mark (15k in Turkey, 5,800 in Iran, 2,000 in Morocco and Tunisia 1,000). The Jews who fled those lands in the 1950’s through 1970’s principally moved to Israel, France, the United States and Canada.

The various entities that made up the Former Soviet Union also account for a drop in the number of countries with over 25,000 Jews. Some of those regions experienced mass migration due to the pogroms of the early 20th century, and other Jews left after World War I and when Russia allowed Jews to leave in the 1990’s. In 1900, 70% of world Jewry lived in the FSU, while only 3% live there today.

And of course, the Holocaust decimated the Jewish population in Europe from 1938 to 1945, including in Poland, Austria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Greece. Before 1948, there were dozens of countries with more than 25,000 Jews.

The next countries which will likely fall below the 25,000 level will be Belgium and then Italy. Belgium has seen a rise in antisemitism including the shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, and the mocking of Jews as moneylenders at a Carnival parade in March 2019, as well as from a decline in the diamond industry which employed many Jews in Antwerp. Italy has seen a migration of its Jews due to the influx of Muslims who have brought new levels of antisemitism at two to five times the level of Christians, as demonstrated in ADL polls. New laws banning ritual slaughter and possibly prohibiting circumcision in European countries will also weigh on where Jews decide to live. The aging population is also encouraging young Jews to migrate to find spouses elsewhere.

The net effect is that over the course of the last 100 years, Jews went from mostly speaking Russian, German and Arabic to speaking English and Hebrew.

It is unlikely that there will be any new countries joining the 25k list as most migration is going to the more established countries.

27 Cities in the United States

The 17 countries with over 25,000 Jews can be put in context when one considers that there are 27 metropolitan areas in the United States with over 25,000 Jews.

New York           1.5 million Jews
Los Angeles         519,000
San Francisco      391,000
Chicago                292,000
Boston                  248,000
Washington D.C.  215,000
Philadelphia         215,000
Atlanta                 120,000
Miami                   119,000
San Diego           100,000
Cleveland             86,000
Denver                 84,000
Phoenix                83,000
Las Vegas            80,000
Detroit                  78,000
Seattle                  63,000
Dallas                   58,000
St. Louis               54,000
Tampa                  51,000
Houston               48,000
Portland, OR        47,000
Pittsburgh            42,000
Minneapolis         40,000
Hartford               34,000
New Haven         30,000
Cincinnati            27,000
Milwaukee           26,000

The total number of US cities with over 25,000 Jews will likely grow, as Jews consider leaving the expensive markets in New York and California and go to cities with quality schools and good job opportunities, including Austin, Nashville and Raleigh.


The Jews of the 20th century mostly left their home countries due to antisemitism, as opposed to job opportunities and quality of life which is why they move within cities inside the United States.

To give a sense of scale of the impact of antisemitism, the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust over roughly six years, equates to 25,000 Jews being killed every 5.5 days. That is equivalent to wiping out all of the Jews of Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Belgium and Italy in a single month. Repeatedly. For six years.

Antisemitism has no equivalent to any other hatred – not to “Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry,” – as listed in the March 2019 House resolution drafted because of the anti-Semitic comments made by Ilhan Omar, the new Democratic US Representative in Congress who is also the first black Muslim woman in Congress. Antisemitism has pushed over 80% of world Jewry into just two countries, the United States and Israel. Vile comments made by elected officials (including in the US, UK and Iran) attacking Jews and basic Jewish human rights in those two remaining outposts – and defended by senior politicians – rises to the level of attempted genocide of the Jewish people.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders conduct a news conference in
Washington, D.C. on Jan. 10, 2019. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP)

Will the 40,000 Jews in Minneapolis begin to fear for their safety because of the sentiments of the Somali community in Minnesota? If the migration begins – Jews abandoning a US city because of antisemitism – God help us all.

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Assimilation and Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

This morning, I woke to a sore throat, a broken boiler, and an outside temperature of negative two degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, I immediately went for the Advil, but hot chocolate has the benefit of making my whole body feel better, not just my throat. I slithered to the kitchen.

I do not have a consistent favorite type of hot chocolate. Oftentimes, I use a base of Hershey’s powdered mix to which I add some Valrhona or perhaps some Trader Joe’s Peppermint. This morning? Sick equals peppermint, right?

With my dairy sink pipes frozen, I was still able to use the boiling water from the Sabbath hot water pot left over from the day before. Thank God.

I used a small spoon to mix the steaming hot water with the various mixes. The hot water did a good job of breaking down the powder, but I had a hard time with some small peppermint balls that floated on top. I spun the spoon clockwise. Counter-clockwise. I pushed the stubborn balls down towards the bottom of the mug. Yet still a few minty clumps remained.

Determined, I took the bottom side of my spoon and mashed the remaining puffs onto the side of the mug. They spread there like a bug on a speedy windshield. I scraped the sides into the rest of my drink.

Fortunately, the water had not yet gone cold in my minute battle, and I was able to enjoy my warm cocoa. However, as it was not quite so hot anymore, I downed the mug rather quickly. It was delicious.

As I finished, I looked at the bottom of the mug to find peppermint sediment peppered on the surface. They survived my early onslaught. I grabbed the spoon to scoop them up, and enjoyed the burst of peppermint to cap my morning drink.

hot chocolate


The western world is deeply engaged in discussions about immigrants and refugees. Part of those conversations are about security, but another is related to society’s ability to absorb the thousands of new arrivals. Will they fit in? Will they blend in? What does their arrival mean for the nature of society going forward?

There are some people that are purists and believe that a culture stays fixed forever. They would prefer that their country, say Hungary, remains the same year-in and year-out. The only foreign languages they would hear would be tourists who come for a few days, spend some money, and then leave. No signs would ever be in a language other than Hungarian.  The people will all “look” Hungarian and “act” Hungarian.

The approach in France may be different. There, people may welcome immigrants with different backgrounds, but on the proposition that all of these foreigners will melt into French society. It is permissible to be Algerian upon arrival, but the expectation is to become French over time.

The United States has yet a different approach. It very much supports the idea of a melting pot, and has created an educational system that requires that different parts of society must interact with all others. Yet the country is also fine with the patchwork of distinct cultural identities. Chinatowns and Little Italy’s dot America, even while most Chinese and Italians blend into society at large.

I understand that some people want to have the exact same chocolate without any variety every single day. I think it’s a bit boring, but I’m not mixing your mug.

I also appreciate that some people are happy to incorporate a few flavors into their routines. They diligently try to make sure that everything is mixed so completely that all that is left is a singular blended society. No outliers. As I chase the foreign floaties in my hot chocolate, I sometimes think of myself as one of those people.

But there are times when I am reminded about those stubborn clumps that refuse to blend in. It may not have been part of the initial overall plan, but I am happy that some have remained distinct, as they were, when they folded into the mix.

A famous dim-witted philosopher once said that “life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.”  Maybe the corollary is that societies are like cups of hot chocolate; some are more blended than others.

I’m happy with mine.

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Crises at the Borders

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A Logical Approach to Immigration from Personal History

President Barack Obama and various religious groups stated their strong support for bringing fleeing Syrian refugees into the United States in the fall of 2015. In their effort to convince other Americans of the justice of bringing in those fleeing wars in the Middle East, they drew an analogy to the Holocaust and the ship the MS St. Louis which was turned away from Cuba, the United States and Canada and sent back to Europe, where the Jewish passengers perished in concentration camps.

For their part, various Republicans stated their opposition to admitting so many refugees at this time due to security concerns. They dismissed the analogy to the Holocaust for multiple reasons including the principal facts that in the past there was no terrorism going on in the United States, and the Jews in Europe were ordinary civilians not bearing any arms or involved in any fights.

Syrian refugees arrive on the Greek island of Kos
August 2015 (photo: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

There is room for an honest conversation and approach. Here, I lay out my family’s path to America and lessons that could be applied to refugees today.

Coming Alone

My paternal great-grandfather came to the USA from Russia in 1904.  He fled the various pogroms that were going on in Russia over many years, including the significant Kishinev Pogrom in 1903.  He set out for America alone via Great Britain.  Once he established himself in New York City, he sent for his wife and two children to join him in their new home nine months later.

Many other Jews were leaving Russia during those years for the United States.  The USA was also admitting many Irish, British, Scandinavians, Italians, Hungarians, Germans and Austrians at the same time.  Each group spoke a different language and they all needed to adopt to the common language and culture of America.

And they did.

Fleeing en Masse

My maternal grandmother fled Austria with her immediate family after Kristallnacht in December 1938.  They were part of an enormous wave of Jews fleeing Europe in those months before the start of World War II.

The whole family fled at one time.  Before coming to the US, they were sent to Cuba where they were vetted and processed.  My grandmother and her two children were allowed to travel to New York three months after their arrival, however, her husband was not permitted to join them right away.  My grandfather waited in Cuba for over a year while the US vetted his background, and protected the jobs and security of Americans by slowly introducing thousands of men.

He waited in Cuba with hundreds of other men in the same predicament.

Lessons for Today

When my paternal great-grandfather came to America in 1904, he was part of a wave of immigrants coming to the US for a variety of reasons from a variety of countries.  Over five decades (1880-1930), the US more than doubled its population (from 50 million to 123 million), while the percent of foreign-born people in the country grew to a high of 15 percent.

The situation today is different:

  • Many foreign-born Americans today. Today, the United States is already at a 15% foreign-born population, the highest level in 200 years. Will such a huge and growing percentage hurt the US economy as they migrate into the workforce? Consider that 100 years ago the country was expanding and there were many jobs for manual labor; today the job market requires more skills and technical expertise.
  • Concentration of New Immigrants’ Culture. The immigrants that are coming today do not speak dozens of different languages (Hungarian; Russian; Italian; Swedish; English; German; etc.), but predominantly, just one: Spanish.  Such a large concentration has hurt Spanish integration into American society where many communities remain Spanish-speaking only or bilingual, at best.  The US instituted affirmative action programs uniquely for these Spanish-speakers, while no other immigrant group is afforded such assistance.  Will a large concentration of new Arabic speakers create another permanent sub-group in the US?
  • Current Battlefield.  The United States has been targeted by various radical Islamic groups.  When the MS St. Louis was turned away in 1939, America was not attacked and not at war.  The battlefield is now here.  Therefore, it is more time-sensitive and important to sort those fleeing harm in the Middle East, from those that intend to harm the United States.

The US should indeed consider the history of Jews fleeing Europe before WWII, but appreciate the differences when it is now considering the admittance of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The current refugees are using the methodology of my paternal great-grandfather and sending men before the rest of the families.  According to the UNHCR, 62% of current immigrants in the Mediterranean area are men. They are fleeing into Turkey and then quickly spreading throughout Europe.  That is a bad and potentially dangerous situation and the US should pivot to a more logical approach:

  • Processing: When refugees come en masse, it is important to have a place to process the people. Displaced Person camps are not a new phenomenon. The various Islamic countries which are allies with the US such as Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states should not only permanently settle many of their fellow Arabs and Muslims, but should establish DP camps so there is time for other countries to appropriately vet those fleeing harm, while keeping the refugees out of harm’s way.
  • Woman and children first. While not all men are terrorists, the vast majority of terrorists are men. As in the 1930s, women and children should be admitted first while extra vetting is done on the men.  Canada has taken such approach.  In addition to giving time for more extensive background checks, it allows the country to more gradually introduce a large number of adult men into society.

Most men are not terrorists and most Muslims are not terrorists.  But the majority of people attacking the US and its allies are Muslim men.  Proper time and attention is needed to protect people.

Jews from Europe in the 1930s went through a long process of coming to America.  The lesson of WWII is not simply to not turn back refugees to the place where they are fleeing like America did with the MS St. Louis. It is also to use a system to effectively admit refugees.

All governments must take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its citizens as it welcomes new immigrants.  It is shameful that there is finger-pointing and name-calling from both Democratic and Republican parties as the country attempts to welcome those fleeing war and prosecute those seeking war.

We should incorporate the best suggestions of both parties to help the refugees while placing priority on protecting Americans.

Related First.One.Through articles

The Explosion of Immigrants in the United States

Crises at the Borders

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

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The Explosion of Immigrants in the United States

Immigration has become a significant topic in the United States and Europe due to comments made by US presidential hopefuls about illegal immigrants and the flight of people from the Middle East due to turmoil in that region. Here is a review of some statistics from past decades and the recent unusual dramatic increase in immigrants while the general population has slowed down.

United States 1880-1930s

The population of the United States grew dramatically over a 50 year-period from 1880 to about 1924 (a period of mass migration, “MM”), at which time the US passed the Immigration Act capping the number of people from any country. From 1880 until 1930, the population of the country grew from 50 million to over 123 million. In each decade over that time, the population grew between 15% and 26%.

Immigrants accounted for a large percentage of the growth. Over that MM time period, foreign born-residents accounted for anywhere from 12% to 15% of the US population. Almost all of these immigrants came from Europe (over 83% in each decade) and a smaller portion from Latin America (from 1 to 6%) and Asia (1 to 2%). While the 1880s had immigrants principally from Germany, United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Ireland, the following decades had immigrants principally from Italy, Russia and the Austria-Hungarian Empire.

Security: The 1880s and the 1900-1909 decade witnessed particularly large number of immigrants. In those decades, immigrants accounted for 20% of the growth in the country’s population (with natural growth accounting for 80%). However, with the outbreak of World War I and enactment of the Immigration Act, the number of immigrants was curtailed, with only 3% and 2% of the population growth stemming from immigrants in the 1910s and 1920s, respectively. Interestingly, while the war raged in Europe, the percentage of immigrants from Europe declined over this period by 4% while the percentage from Latin America grew by 4%.

One would imagine that the number of people trying to emigrate from Europe to the US would have increased during WWI, and the percentage of immigrants would have spiked above the historic 87% European figure. Instead, there was a drop-off. Were Americans concerned about the safety and security of the US? Was it fearful of importing a conflict to its shores? The severe drop-off in immigration and coinciding change of place of origin suggest that may be a factor. Another was the economy.

Economy: The decades of the 1910s and 1920s saw relatively weak average GDP per capita growth rates compared to prior decades: 1.28% and 1.27% for 1910s and 1920s, respectively. These anemic figures compared to prior decades of 1.65%, 2.04% and 2.13% in the 1880s, 1890s and 1900s, respectively. The subsequent stock market crash of 1929 and depression of the 1930s severely hurt the economy. This was probably the principle factor in the US population only growing at 7% compared to prior decades of 15% to 26% growth. Fewer jobs and a weaker economy led to fewer births and a stricter immigration policy set in place in 1924.

Decade Total Population Growth Immigrants % of Growth % Foreign-Born Americans
1880s 26% 20% 15%
1890s 21 8 14
1900s 21 20 15
1910s 15 3 13
1920s 16 2 12
1930s 7%


 United States 1960 – 2010

The 50 years from 1960 to 2010 saw an inversion of some of the immigration and population trends from the 1880-1930 period.

With the exception of the 1950s, every decade had a population growth that was less than from the MM period (10%-14% growth versus 15-26% in MM). Foreign-born people in the US became a rarity from the 1950s through the 1970s when they accounted for only 5-6% of the population (compared to 12-15% during the MM period).

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 removed the former quota system that capped immigration from each country.  As such the 1970s and 1980s started to see a dramatic change in the make-up of the US population. While very few immigrants came to the US in the 1960s, the 1970s and 1980s had 17% and 26% of the total population growth come from immigrants, respectively.  The 1965 Act also resulted in a dramatic change in the ethnic origins of new immigrants: they were no longer coming from Europe, but from Latin America and Asia.

Source of US Immigrants (from US Census Bureau)

Decade Europe Asia Latin America
1950s 75% 5% 9%
1960s 62 9 19
1970s 39 19 33
1980s 23 26 44

Economy: The economy in the 1960s and 1980s were the best in US history. The average per capita GDP grew 2.88% and 2.26% each year, on average, during the 1960s and 1980s, respectively. As such, the growth in the immigrant population and the changing origin of those people did not generate considerable debate or concern from Americans or politicians.

That situation changed dramatically in the 2000-2009 decade.

Security and Economy: The US population growth in the 2000-2009 decade was the slowest in American history, growing by only 6% (even lower than the 1930s). That decade witnessed the attacks of September 11, 2001, stock market internet bubble collapse of 2000, and a large scale economic meltdown and financial crisis in 2008.

Decade Total Population Growth Immigrants % of Growth % Foreign-Born Americans
1950s 19% 5%
1960s 13 5
1970s 11 17% 6
1980s 10 26 8
1990s 13 37 11
2000s 6 41 13

Yet, against this backdrop, the foreign-born population in the United States in 2010 grew to 13% – the same percentage as existed during the peaceful growth mode of the mass migration.  This percentage is over twice the level that existed in the country just 30 years earlier, in 1980. Astonishingly, almost half of the growth in the US is now from immigrants – a rate not realized since the founding of the country hundreds of years ago.

Consider further, that most of the new immigrants are coming from Latin America that principally speaks a single language (Spanish) in comparison to immigration from Europe or Asia that brought a diverse number of languages. Such an enormous influx of a single language could create a bilingual country.


In the 50 years of the mass migration 1880-1930, the country took steps to curtail immigration as the economy slowed and from World War I. Today, the US has an aggressive immigration policy during a weak economy and has significant security concerns.

It is natural for a country that focuses on its quality-of-life and feels insecure about its safety and economy to see the population have fewer children and urge for curtailing immigration.

While the US economy improved from the 2008 financial meltdown to 2015, consumer sentiment remained weak, as many Americans remained unemployed and under-employed. In addition to the weak economy, Americans watched the collapse of the Middle East through videos of the horror on their smartphones. The fear of terror coming back to the US is real.

One could argue that America had the “benefit” of slowing GDP growth in the 1910s and 1920s which pushed the country to accept many fewer immigrants. By the time the depression of the 1930s hit, there was already a 1924 immigration law in place and the reality of a slowdown in accepting new “foreigners” for a couple of decades. However, in the US today, the number of foreigners are growing at an accelerated rate for the last few decades, just as the country experienced incredible turmoil.

When a person sees the plight of refugees in the Middle East, the human and moral reaction is to extend a hand. Indeed, President Obama decided to increase the quota of Syrian immigrants from that region to 10,000 in 2016. On top of humanitarian concerns, the Democratic president scored big with Hispanics (71% to 27% in the 2012 presidential election). These facts make Obama look very in favor of accelerating immigration.

However, it is unfair to paint all people who argue for a limit on refugees and immigrants at this time as xenophobic and racist. There is a natural ebb-and-flow to immigration, which often follows the status of the economy and perceived safety concerns. Considering the current double-impact of the economy and security, and the dramatic increase in immigration over the past three decades, a review of immigration policy would appear warranted.

The USA, a Country of Immigrants

The United States has always been a country of immigrants. During the late 1800s through the market crash of 1929, ten percent of the country moved to the country every decade. After the Great Depression, immigration slowed to a trickle. It has grown to about 3.5% of the population per decade today.

Consider that the US grants more citizenship each decade than the entire populations of most countries.

The main changes to the immigrant population have been the source countries (now Asia and Latin America rather than Europe and Russia) and the greater number of illegal immigrants that are also coming to the US. Over 80% of today’s illegal immigrants come from Mexico and Latin America.