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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

We Must Embrace America’s Welcoming History in This Difficult Moment

I’m Jewish. He’s Palestinian. We are both immigration lawyers. And while we come from markedly different cultures and religions, we have the same core values and beliefs. We are also both Americans and proud of our nation’s history of providing refuge to so many for 247 years. As Americans, we also have the freedoms of speech, to laud or to criticize when necessary. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine seems to have brought out the worst in humanity. We are both heartbroken to see what is happening in Israel and Gaza. The conflict has, sadly, opened the door for more hatred to seep through. We see it in the headlines — when children are harmed or killed because of their nationality. When people are attacked due to the clothing or head coverings they wear and the religion they believe in. And we see it in the U.S. Congress as legislators propose bills that are antithetical to the United States’ promise to aspiring immigrants from all over the world. Time and again, when opportunity arises, lawmakers will take advantage of the fears of their constituents, to fling campaign slogans and rile up their base. The war being waged in the Middle East is an opportune time for this type of political pandering. Lady Liberty has been inscribed with the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Immigration laws and policies have changed since then, but what hasn’t changed is that today, like then, our nation successfully transforms newcomers into Americans, and in turn our country is strengthened by diversity, innovation and new ideas. But we’re seeing anti-immigrant sentiment, along with anti-Islamic hatred and antisemitism here on these shores and, sadly, in the U.S. Congress. One example is an extreme bill introduced by Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., an attempt to prevent immigrants from entering the United States using fear as the catalyst. In introducing the legislation, Zinke and the bill’s cosponsors are providing a modern-day reminder of how the United States has attempted to restrict immigrants for a variety of reasons since the mid-1800s. Condemning an entire population for the reprehensible and terrible actions of a few has never served us well. The Japanese internment camps? Treatment of German Americans? The anti-Muslim hatred and violence after Sept. 11? Over the years, these restrictions have targeted Asians, Europeans, Africans and others. The most recent iteration of blanket restrictive policies is the Muslim travel ban instituted by the Trump administration via executive order and ultimately revoked by President Biden. Looking in the rear-view mirror, none of these laws or policies were ultimately beneficial for the United States and were contrary to the values we hold as a nation of immigrants. We both want the war in the Middle East to end. This bill, and similar actions, would do nothing to safeguard our homeland. It sets a terrible precedent that has been proven to fail time and again with other blanket restrictionist policies. The United States should rise above the hate-mongering and xenophobic rhetoric and avoid knee-jerk legislation that would directly breach the foundation of America. Congress should reject this bill, and all of us should strive for better. Maurice “Mo” Goldman is an attorney in Tucson, Arizona. He is a Jewish-born American and grandchild of Holocaust survivors. He can be reached on Linkedin. Zayed Al-Sayyed is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a Palestinian-American. He has an aunt and seven cousins in Gaza. He can be reached on Linkedin. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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