Ira Stoll on Immigration and Thanksgiving

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Credit: jonathan mcintosh / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

In his latest column, Ira Stoll writes:

An elderly relative of mine recently let me in on what she described as a family secret: her housepainter father, she said, could never get a steady indoor job here in America because he didn't have proper working papers.

I knew about my grandfather on one side of the family who had arrived at Ellis Island in the 1920s and served in the navy in World War II. But the possibility that one of my great-grandparents on the other side was an illegal immigrant brought a smile to the face of this columnist, an Eagle Scout Harvard graduate and the author of biographies of Samuel Adams and John F. Kennedy.

For if those ancestors of mine hadn't made it here, legally or illegally, the odds are they'd have been killed either by the Nazis or the Soviet Communists, and I wouldn't even exist, let alone be writing books on American history or opining on American immigration policy. My reaction to the disclosure wasn't shame or embarrassment, but relief: thank God they got in before it was too late.