Are We the Promised Land?

By Lloyd Graff

My family celebrated Passover this past weekend. It is called the “Holiday of Questions” for many reasons, but especially to pull children into the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, hoping to reach the Promised Land despite all obstacles. 

My 6-year-old grandson is an inquisitive boy, and we enticed him to join the storytelling by promising him a prize for each good question he asked or answered. (He was the only youngster present).

The questions quickly gravitated to the Israelites being slaves in Egypt. He wanted a smart 6-year-old’s definition of slavery and slave masters and why the slaves desperately wanted to leave to get freedom. 

I wanted to educate him this Passover because I think he has no understanding about what bondage is, yet a drama similar to the Passover story continues to be played out all over the world and very dramatically here in Texas, Arizona, and California, as today’s equivalent of slaves pour into the United States. 

The Rio Grande river near Del Rio, Texas, could even be compared to the “Red Sea” or the “Sea of Reeds,” which the Israelites waded across to reach the promised land of Israel. Instead of Egyptians chasing them as in Cecil B Demille’s The Ten Commandments, they walk into a new country, facing armed officers, both with fear and hope.

Immigrants wading across the Rio Grande

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free,” is in the poem etched on the back of the Statue of Liberty. Could any verse be more representative of the slaves from communist Cuba and Venezuela wading across the Rio Grande, as well as the brutalized people from Honduras and El Salvador escaping tyranny and drug lords. And now refugees from Ukraine are congregating in Tijuana waiting to enter the country they pray will give them the chance to live in relative peace and prosperity.

I see this huge immigration to America as an economic opportunity for our country to restock with similar kinds of people as my grandparents and great-grandparents when they were crammed into the steerage of boats after walking to the ports of Russia and Lithuania in the early decades of the 1900s. Some went to Israel and South Africa, but most came to New York and Chicago because they had family who could give them a bed until they got a job. My great uncle Simon Pinkert met his wife, Ida Graff, in one of those Chicago houses. He was a baker who worked at night. She worked in the big house’s kitchen. The story goes that they both slept in the same bed, he in the morning and she at night, and then they met on the Sabbath. They had 12 kids, eleven survived. All were successful.

My wife’s maternal grandfather came on a boat at 16. He traveled the country as a peddler for years, and then started a clothing store in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I know many people see the undocumented immigration from Mexico as scary. They think the dirty and wretched folks wading across the border without papers pose a threat to this country. 

I see it differently. Our legal immigration system is a mess. We are supposed to have a lottery to admit 55,000 people a year. Last year we documented half of that number because the bureaucracy was missing in action, supposedly because of COVID-19. Many people entered the country on tourist visas and never left, hoping to find a legal way to stay or otherwise work the system to keep their ticket to hope. 

Many politicians and media hacks play immigration fear for personal gain by making illegal immigration seem to be our downfall. I see it as our future. The workforce has lost an estimated 3.5 million people in the last few years. Many people who could work have chosen for some reason not to work. These are not prisoners. They are dropouts for many reasons such as childcare, government welfare programs, laziness, depression, opioid and marijuana addiction, and many other causes. America desperately needs a shot in the arm to our workforce. Most of the waders across the Rio Grande are young and have many dreams. It wasn’t easy to get here. 

I am grateful we have our “Sea of Reeds” to give a chance to millions of people “yearning to breathe free.” Some will fail. Some will eventually go back to their old homes. But I believe most of them will contribute to the America my 6-year-old grandson and my newborn grandson will share with them.

Question: Should we send undocumented immigrants back?

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11 thoughts on “Are We the Promised Land?

  1. Daniel

    This is a moving, powerful piece you have written. Kudos for tackling such a hotly debated crisis. I agree that most of these people deserve a chance to work hard and chase the American dream. Our country is the only place on earth that can help these people and therefore I think it is our moral duty to do so.

  2. jim

    I would love to see us make sensible laws pertaining to immigration that are fair and then enforce them. we cant help all the people that need help that are already in this country, but that is another problem.

  3. jo

    Lloyd, you said your grandparents and great-grandparents came to America LEGALLY, so did all 4 of my Grandparents. Yes, our immigration system is broken, but the ceaseless flow of illegals demeans those who try to do right. We can and should get the laws changed as necessary, but we should especially uphold the ones that exist.
    Also, there are the matters of:
    Latin American children being kidnapped and used by adults to gain entrance to the US as families, then discarded or worse
    Criminals and outlaws crossing the border indiscriminately
    Exemptions from US laws for those who enter illegally (think mask and vaccine mandates among others)
    People dying during their trek, and especially those who perish because they got lost on the way
    Taxpayer funded support for those who enter illegally (phones, transportation, clothing, housing, food – and I’m not talking about ICE facilities)

    The rights and welfare of Americans – natural and naturalized – should come before those of people who believe our laws don’t apply to them (and this includes Americans with that belief)

  4. Rick in NYC

    Let us realize this is just political.

    The progressive are just importing voters to ultimately create a Socialist/Communist “utopia” here.

    May your grandson enjoy the transformation to the third world country we will become as this continues.
    We are BROKE.
    How soon does the country go bankrupt.

    Anyone who studies history knows what happens when a government continually prints money.
    Hows that inflation going, it will not end well.

    According to CBS news: “Migrant arrivals along U.S. border soared to 221,000 in March”
    That does not include those who are sneaking in, not looking for a legal path, why is that? Nothing to see here – keep moving.

    Once title 42 expires and the weather is warmer that number will explode.

    How many millions will we take in each year in perpetually ?

    Shall we take in the entire world? Just asking for a friend.

    What of those who have been LEGALLY petitioning to come here LEGALLY?
    They are still on the back of the line.
    What about those who do the right thing? They are screwed.

    Curious, Why are we concerned over the Ukrainian border and not ours?
    Just some Russians looking for a better life over there.

    How do you thing the Kate Steinle feels about all this?
    How many are robbed, raped and killed by the scum coming in here hiding amongst the crowds?

    Oh, there are only a few bad apples in the bunch.
    Why can we not properly vet each one?
    So how many M&Ms would you take if there were just a few poison ones in the bowl?

    So how many will your family be taking in and taking care of?
    That would be the ultimate lesson for your grandson.
    Please let me know how it goes.

    My father came here LEGALLY.
    He had to have a sponsor who was responsible for him and support him if he did not work.
    and had to agree to serve if drafted for Korea.
    Which he was – he said his drill Sergent was the best English instructor one could ever meet. First thing he learned was the Sergent would “Put a boot up their A$$” if they didn’t follow orders!

    I could go on more, BUT I Gotta get back to work so I can pay more taxes for the phones, welfare, and the rest of the free stuff these ILLEGALS are getting.


    1. Noah+Graff

      Yes! Thank you. Let me follow that up!😀

      We’re Americans. With a capital “A”, huh? And you know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts. — John Winger

  5. Robert Ducanis

    Lloyd, I think you need to rephrase one of your comments unless I am reading you incorrectly.

    “Many politicians and media hacks play immigration fear for personal gain by making illegal immigration seem to be our downfall. I see it as our future.”

    Are you promoting ‘illegal immigration’ by stating you see it (illegal immigration) as our future?

    Our country is a country based upon the rule of law. Now, we may disagree with how current laws are applied with regards to immigration but that is a topic for another day, Congress has enacted laws which are impossible to enforce. If you really want to consider why our government is so inept in enforcing the laws on the books, try to spend some time deciphering the Policy Manual of the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services Department. I think I could get thru the Encyclopedia Britannica in quicker fashion.

    It is currently predicted that 12K to 18K illegal immigrants will cross the Mexican/USA border daily once Title-42 restrictions are lifted.

  6. keith garrison

    I agree with the tenor of your article. Almost everyone in the US was an immigrant or has immigrant ancestors. I am not sure what the correct number of immigrants is but would want there to be some sort of vetting rather than they all just crash to border. My ancestors came here in the 17th century, my wife’s grandparents from Poland.

  7. Lloyd+Graff

    Of course, legal immigration is preferred butour fractured politics in Washington makes it impossible. Add an inept bureaucracy and you end up with a paralyzed system constantly being played for personal gain by politicians. The system can be improved but it won’t be anytime soon. Thus I wrote the blog to stimulate comment. Certainly today’s mess at the border is not ideal but we are getting a big dose of workers and younger people with ambition for a better life. The drug pirates are abusing things, but despite that we need most of these folks and they will contribute over time.


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