Target: Lewiston Mayor, Bob MacDonald
Goal: Encourage the Mayor of Lewiston, Maine to learn about the contributions that immigrants have made to the United States
Bob MacDonald, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, was recently criticized for his statements insisting that immigrants accept American culture and leave their own behind. In a second interview in which he was expected to retract his comments, he suggested instead that the Somali immigrants in Lewiston return to Somalia to address the country’s problems. These statements reflect a lack of knowledge about the history of immigration in the United States. MacDonald should be encouraged to learn about the benefits that immigrants have brought to the country’s economy and the role that immigrant groups have played in creating American culture.
Somali citizens began escaping the violence and poverty of Somalia to start new lives in the town of Lewiston in the early 2000s, and they now make up around ten percent of the city’s population. Many of these immigrants have been successful in the new town, and cite a mutual respect that most residents have for each other’s cultures. They see the mayor’s remarks as an attempt to divide the community instead of encouraging them to work together to solve the town’s problems, such as those related to education and the economy.
If Mayor MacDonald took the time to research immigration in the United States, he would learn about the positive impact that immigrants have had on the country’s economy and culture. Immigrants have been responsible for indispensable innovations, for establishing successful businesses, and for doing the necessary jobs that many native-born Americans are unwilling to do; the American economy depends on the hard work of immigrants. Additionally, the culture reflects a long history of immigration from countries around the world and would be unrecognizable without the contributions from other cultures.
The only solution to this problem is for the mayor to acknowledge that he is ignorant on the subject of immigration and that he could benefit from learning about the contributions that immigrants make to the economy and culture of the United States. Immigration itself is not a problem; the only problem is intolerance for unfamiliar cultures. Once he learns more about immigration in general and goes into his community to get acquainted with the residents, his views will likely change and he will understand why his statements have caused so much controversy.
Dear Mayor MacDonald,
Your recent comments suggesting that immigrants in your town should abandon their culture and assimilate to American culture reflect an ignorance of the contributions that immigrants have made in communities around the country. Communities are made stronger when people with differing cultures come together and celebrate those differences without judgment.
Immigrants have been responsible for creating successful businesses in the United States and for doing jobs that others are unwilling to do. Our country is made up of all of the cultures that immigrants have brought with them, and our economy is entirely dependent on the hard work and brilliant minds of immigrants and their families.
Your statements demonstrate a lack of understanding of the role that immigrants have played in creating the culture of the United States, and in the success of our economy. I am encouraging you to take the time to learn about the contributions of immigrants so that you might understand why so many found your comments insulting.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: prayitno via Flickr.