Grandson of immigrants says fix system

Gary Sosniecki


I’m the grandson of immigrants.

Jozef Sosniecki, my grandfather, was born in Brodla, Poland, a village a little larger than Conway, 16 miles west of the bigger and better-known city of Krakow.

Twenty years old, traveling without other family, Grandpa emigrated to the United States from Antwerp, Belgium, leaving aboard the SS Zeeland on May 18, 1912, a month and three days after the sinking of the Titantic. If he knew about that tragedy before boarding his own steamship, it did not deter him from his desire to reach America.

He arrived at Ellis Island 11 days later and in Illinois on May 31, settling in Chicago’s Polish community. He married Aniela, a girl from Brodla, and they had a son, my father, in 1916 and a daughter in 1917. The young family spoke Polish in the home but eventually became fluent in English.

On Oct. 1, 1917, six weeks before the birth of his second child, Grandpa signed his Declaration of Intent, the first step toward becoming a citizen of the United States. Five years later, on Nov. 16, 1922, he signed his Petition for Naturalization. On Feb. 16, 1923, he was granted citizenship.

In other words, the United States had a process in 1912 for immigrants to become citizens, and it has a process now.

Which is why I don’t understand how that process has broken down – and why President Trump catches so much flak for trying to fix it.

We are a nation of immigrants, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have rules governing who enters our country, when they enter it and how long they may stay, especially in an era of terrorism, most of which originates from foreigners. Whether an immigrant wants to live in the United States short-term or wants to become a citizen, he or she should be expected to follow our immigration policy.

It doesn’t make America any less compassionate to people seeking a better life by having rules about how to enter our country and how to stay permanently, as Grandpa Sosniecki did.

I get my hair cut at one of those national chains where you get a different stylist every month, but she knows how to cut your hair because it’s in the store’s computer. A couple haircuts ago, my stylist-of-the-month told me that her boyfriend, an illegal alien, was worried that he was about to be deported.

He knew this because his lawyer had called his wife.

For the complete column, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.


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