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A melting pot no more

Opened in 1895 to welcome immigrants, Ellis Island eventually grew to 27 acres of inspection centers, detention areas and hospitals. Families were kept together. At time, as many as 10,000 exhausted, frightened, impoverished people passed through its gates. The children and grandchildren of these immigrants became the airmen, sailors and soldiers who won the second world war for the allies. Generations of descendants have returned there to search for family histories in the meticulous records kept in the archives.

There is no Ellis Island at our southern border. No place for the exhausted, frightened and impoverished families to rest while seeking entrance to the United States as did those who came in the early 20th century. Families are separated, children have been lost, both adults and children are housed in fenced enclosures without any consideration for comfort. Parents have been deported without their children. Immigrants denied asylum have been returned to their home countries to be killed or forced into drug gangs. Future generations will not be able to find their family histories in these chaotic records.

We have lost our way as a nation. The United States is no longer the great melting pot of democracy and opportunity, and as a country we are worse off for it.

Martha L. McFadden

Washington