Building a nation of immigrants was long considered America’s greatest strength, and many of our fine Presidents have expressed this eloquently. George Washington, arguably the country’s founding father, said, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…” Woodrow Wilson is quoted as saying, ““We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of the things that unite.” Franklin Roosevelt is blunt, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Unless a person is a Native American, we are all immigrants. Period.
More recently, George W. Bush considered this subject and stated, “Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans – liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal – the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history… Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.” The photo above was taken last week at Capella University’s commencement ceremony. These five women earned their Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), specializing in the area of Informatics. They represent President Bush’s prediction that immigrants are America’s (and nursing’s) future. Each one is either an immigrant or a first-generation American. They represent diverse heritages – Jewish, Jamaican, Nepali, Polish, and Hispanic. All are under attack at this terrible time in our country’s history – by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, racists, xenophobes, and the current administration. Why?
The politics of division. Adolf Hitler used this strategy in Germany to upend a society, brainwash and corrupt a citizenry, and murder 6 million innocent people. Because they were not considered “white enough”. Unthinkable in today’s world? Unfortunately the Dylan Roofs of this country continue the tradition of murdering innocents based on nothing more than the color of their skin or the religion they practice. President Wilson said we must get rid of the things that divide. How can we let this continue?
Nursing leaders understand the importance of culturally competent care. National standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate services in health and healthcare (CLAS) have been established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Diversity in the nursing workforce is slowly manifesting, but if this photo is any indication, diversity in nursing leadership is rapidly on the rise. We are tasked to practice in a culturally competent manner. But we need to to more. We must #resist. We must work together with the American Nurses Association to advocate for health care for all, for sane immigration policies, for continuation of the Dream Act, for strengthening of the Affordable Care Act, for the health of our people and our nation.
The current administration’s efforts to build a wall are antithetical to George W. Bush’s view of immigration. This policy direction is unacceptable. It’s un-American. We must take action, and build President Bush’s bridge to the future. It’s the only way to make America great again.