Winograd and Schwartz, PC, would like to wish each of you a peaceful and healthy holiday season. These are certainly troubling times. As Americans, we value the power of the vote – democracy at work. This year’s presidential race is proving a challenge to the mind and our country. Along with the repercussions of Citizens United, money in politics has taken on a new meaning. And with his own bankroll of his campaign, Donald Trump has taken center stage and chosen to advocate banning Muslims from entering the country. As outrageous as this sounds to many of us, he is reaching people’s fears, ignorance and disdain for differences, and this brings us great concern.
Our offices are close to Jersey City. Not many Muslims are celebrating in Jersey City today, though. In fact, an immigration client recently confided he no longer feels safe in the area. This is a man who came to this country with the hope of using his art and talent to enrich our culture and now is a target of cynical politicians and the people they inflame.
Since Mr. Trump remarked about “cutting off” immigration to all Muslim people, another client stated that he has been experiencing bias in a variety of forums and is feeling uncomfortable. Whether this is real or projected, it certainly is revived and discussed in the community.
In a nation of immigrants, it should not be necessary to remind presidential candidates that they, too, are the descendants of immigrants. But, as history shows us, when people are scared, there will always be those who give into a mob-like mentality to blame the newcomers, to blame the “others.” This is what led to America’s great shame of rounding up Americans of Japanese descent during World War II and placing them in “internment” camps – a program recently praised by Donald Trump and his followers.
My ancestors fled Europe because they were targeted for who they were, not because of what they had done. The same is true of the displaced victims of the turmoil in Syria and surrounding areas. I have made it my life’s purpose to help people make a better life for themselves in America, not only because of my family history but also because it is the right thing to do. I have little doubt that our great country will rise to the occasion to do the same, but we all have to do our part to make that happen. May this season bring the hope of more peaceful times for all.