President Trump’s executive order imposing a Muslim ban is an affront to the very values that make us proud to be Americans. The multi-year vetting process of refugees is already “extreme” and the safety of Marylanders is a top priority, but the actions of this President are simply un-American. We cannot be silent.
Governors across the country have stepped up and vowed to take action. Even Republicans like Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham have denounced the President’s actions. But the one person we haven’t heard from is Governor Hogan.
Like many of us, the issue of immigration has personal connections. In 1906, my grandfather arrived in this country at the age of eighteen aboard the German vessel Rheine. His name was David Kamenetz. He emigrated from Zagar, Russia, escaping czarist persecution.
Grandpa settled in Jewish Baltimore and became a tailor. As a ‘greenhorn,’ he married an American woman, but never became a citizen. He lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, operated Kay’s Tailors in Hamilton. He paid his taxes and obeyed the laws. He practiced his religion, raised his family, and educated his four children. Grandpa loved this country as the greatest place on earth.
When Grandpa first arrived, he went through Ellis Island, where he could see Lady Liberty welcoming him. The plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’ I would not be here today had the United States of America not lifted her lamp beside that golden door for my family.
Our Founding Fathers were united in the belief that America’s pluralism would be its north star. In his seminal work Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote that this place called America would be a refuge for the ‘persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty.’
For nearly two hundred and fifty years, generations of immigrants have arrived on our shores and built the strongest nation in the world. Every family has a David Kamenetz. This is our story. This is who we are and what we must remain.
This issue is too important for Governor Hogan to remain silent.