I work with undocumented immigrants (noncitizens) every day. In fact, I came out of retirement specifically to work with this population. Yet, the media reports never seize to amaze me. Their coverage of immigrant’s makes regular, empathetic, and compassionate American Citizens become xenophobic hatemongers within just a few news cycles. Mayebe it’s because of the reckless language of people like Donald Trump and his minions. Such is the case with the current so-called wave of immigrant crime.

See the article Trump’s claims of a migrant crime wave are not supported by national data
By Olympia Sonnier and Garrett Haake

America is a country of immigrants, yet we often hear the cry “take back our country” usually from scared people, people opposed to diversity. People afraid of the Browning of America. The thing is that this country was stolen from the Natives. Then an enslaved people were forced to help develop and build it up.

From the day Christopher Columbus stepped foot on this land, till today in 2024, every single person in this country, the United States of America, are either immigrants themselves, or decendants of immigrants -except of course for the Native and indiginous people.

I am an U.S. citizen. I was born in New York City sixty nine years ago, but my parents were born in Puerto Rico. For the sake of education, clarification, or both, Puerto Ricans -those born on the Island of Puerto Rico- have been American Citizens since March 2, 1917 when U.S. legislation created the Jones-Shafroth Act that granted Puerto Rican’s U.S. citizenship. So, just like someone born in Texas, Wyoming or Utah, Puerto Rican’s are U.S. citizens too. But many U.S. citizens do not know this, or only recently learned this fact after Hurricane Maria ravaged the Island nation and former President Trump visited it only to mock and torment its citizens– Puerto Rico is a part of the United States of America. It is a common wealth like Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – except that they do not have voting representation in the United States Congress, and are not entitled to electoral votes for president, go figure!

Also, many people in the United States of America think that everyone that speaks spanish is a Mexican. Here is another fun fact. Most Spanish speaking people refer to themselves as American. That is except for Spanairds since they are European, and Dominicans or Cubans, they come from independant Carribean nations. You see, the fact of the matter is that there are two American Continenets, North America and South America. Whereas North America is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean. Greater North America includes the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Île Clipperton, Greenland, México, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States of America, South America is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east by the Atlantic Ocean; North America and the Caribbean Sea lie to the northwest. The continent is generally taken to include twelve sovereign states: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela; two dependent territories: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and one internal territory: French Guiana. In addition, the ABC islands of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ascension Island (dependency of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory), Bouvet Island (dependency of Norway), Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago may also be considered parts of South America. So citizens of each of these continents are in fact American.

Two Years After Deadly El Paso Attack, Anti-Latino and Anti-Immigrant Hate and Extremism Persist

Why then is there so much rancor, hatered and anomosity toward todays immigrants, especially toward the spanish speaking immigrant? The U.S. has long had a love hate relationship with Mexico. Once upon a time there was no Mexican border. Mexicans would walk into the U.S. for employment, and U.S. citizens would walk into Mexico for a good time. That changed with the Mexican-American war. Those restrictions lasted until the second World War. An executive order called the Mexican Farm Labor Program established the Bracero Program in 1942. These agreements addressed a national agricultural labor shortage. During the war the U.S. sought labor from millions of Braceros, who would return to their country of origin after their work permit expired.

Recently here in New York City there were three news reports about violent hispanic immigrants. In one story a group of immigrants attacked and beat up a policeman in the Times Square area of Manhattan. In another story a band of roving hispanic immigrants on motor bikes went around robbing women of their cellphones, and in a third story a young hispanic immigrant while engaging in an armed robbery accidentially shot a tourist. All of these incidents are terrible and these people (immigrants or not) should be arrested and penalized for those horrible crimes. But, I ask, why must the fact that they are immigrant be the headline?

The Gilgo Beach Serial Killer is not an immigrant. Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced lawyer that killed his wife and son is not an immigrant. Payton S. Gendron murdered ten people and injured three in a shooting spree in Buffelo New York, Robert Bowers the murderer of eleven Jewish congregants in Pittsburgh is not an immigrant. Uvalde school shooter, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooter, the Columbine shooters, the Virginia Tech. shooter, none of these were immigrants, and the list goes on. And, let’s not forget Justin Mohn. This non immigrant, white male chopped his fathers head off and then shows the head on the social media platform, Youtube.

Justin Mohn of Levittown Pennselvania, decapitates his father, and shows the head on Youtube.


When I was growing up in New York City one of the most popular TV shows at the time was The Untouchables. This was an American crime drama produced by Desilu Productions that ran from 1959 to 1963. This was a fictionalized version of the real life exploits of Elliot Ness and a group of Federal Agents that brought down Al Capone, and other mobsters. It portrayed the very real and violent life of the immigrants of the day, the Italian’s and the Irish, in there quest to control the illegal alcohol trade. Set in the 1930’s, the stories depicted mostly took place in Chicago, but also covered stories in New York City. Gun battles took place in the streets, often resulting in the death of innocent bystanders. You can see an extensive list of immigrant mobsters here and here, by the way, non of these are Hispanic.
While not all Italian or Irish immigrants were involved in criminal activity, those characters made for a lucrative trade. Years later Newspapers and magazines featuring these exploits were sold. Movies and television shows were created and Acadamy Awards were bestowed on those that portrayed those criminals.

As I stated when I began this article, I work with many immigrants everyday. I see families and listen to some very horrible stories of what life was like in their home country. Stories of stravatioin, similar to those of the Irish immigrants during the potato famine, or escaping dictator and authoritarian governments, much like the Italain immigrants escaping the oppressive Mussolini regime. These immigrants flee from an excistence so terrible that they actually would rather risk their lives treking across jungles, dodging bands of criminals, drug cartels, corrupt police and politicains, riding atop a train known as La Bestia – the Beast, and wading dangerous waters just to get into the United States of America the land of the free, home of the brave, the land that proclaims “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” only to be confronted by the ugly reality of racism. As long as the massive influx of immigrants (between 1892 and 1954, more than twelve million immigrants passed through Ellis Island) were from Europe everything that could be done to accomodate them was done. As soon as the places where people immigrated from, their skin was of a darker hue, or the language spoken was of a spanish dialect, the doors into the United States suddenly began to close. As a side note, Ellis Island closed on November 12, 1954, with the departure of its last detainee, Norwegian merchant seaman Arne Pettersen, who had been arrested for overstaying his shore leave. At the time, it was estimated that the government would save $900,000 a year from closing the island.


My how we twist the facts to suit our needs. Here is an excert from an article by the American Immigration Council entitled Did My Family Really Come “Legally”?

“Many people assume that their family immigrated to the United States legally, or did it “the right way.” In most cases, this statement does not reflect the fact that the U.S. immigration system was very different in the past and that their families might not have been allowed to enter had today’s laws been in effect. When many families arrived in the United States, there were no numerical limitations on immigration, no requirements to have an existing family or employment relationship with someone in the country, and no requirement to obtain a visa prior to arriving. The definition of who is “legal”—and who is not—changes with the evolution of immigration laws. In some cases, claiming that a family came “legally” is simply inaccurate—unauthorized immigration has been a reality for generations.

Many of our ancestors would not have qualified under today’s immigration laws. Today’s laws require that potential immigrants be closely related to qualified U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have employment offers from U.S. employers, or qualify as refugees. Today’s laws would have effectively restricted many of our families from coming legally to the United States.

The concluding paragraph summerizes as such,

“Unauthorized immigrants have existed throughout U.S. history. Depending on the laws at the time, different groups have been subject to barriers making it difficult for them to arrive through the legal immigration system. Today’s laws would have excluded many Americans and their ancestors.”


During the turn of the 20th century New York was in the midst of the industrial revolution. New York City was a bustling and booming town. The five points section of the city was a heaven for grift and crime. There, in that part of town lived immigrants from Ireland, and Italy. There were jews and blacks, all living in that small section of town that was notorious. Times were rough for many of the poor immigrants, so much so that parents often sent their children out into the streets to beg. Some of those children became delinquents. Some ran away from home, other were thrown out- abandoned by their parents- to survive on their own. This was the era when the Children’s Aide Society, and the Orphan Train Movement was founded, and the Settlement House Movement began. This period in American history came to be known as the progressive era. Many political and social reforms were implemented during that time.

Names like Charles Loring Brace (Chidlren’s Aid Society/The Orphan Trains), and Lillian Wald (Henry Street Settlement), amoung others shine through. The couragous social advocates helped change the way immigrants were treated and acclimated into New York City. While in Chicago Jane Addams founded the Hull House.

It was at the behest of the New York City Mayor Fernando Wood, and the City Legislature that Castle Garden, and then Ellis Island were created as central processing points for the massive influx of European immigrants.

Fernando Wood served as New York City Mayor twice. First in 1855, then again in 1860.

That tumultuous era was the time of William Tweed, the “boss” of Tammany Hall, the corrupt polical machine in New York City, and the gangs of New York (located in the Five Points): The Dead Rabbits, the Hudson Dusters, the Whyos, The Five Points Gang, The Eastman Gang, Murder Inc, and the New York Camorra to name just a few. It was Loring Brace that first founded the Children’s Aid Society, and then initiated the Placing Out Movement that eventually led to Child Welfare and Reforms, and it was Lillian Wald that started providing social services, basic education and other services to immigrants in her Henry Street Settlement. So why is it so difficult to do something today in New York City that is simiar to what the couragous social reformers of the early twentth centry did?

If todays immigrant situation is mostly a latino immigrant problem where are the Latino politicians, social reformers, and other Latino thinkers? I see others, mostly white advocates stepping out to lead the charge.

We should not, can not let THEM tell our story. Shape the narrative and continue to perpetuate the falicy that Latinos/Hispnics/Latinex are takers and not contributors. Sure there are a few rotten apples in the basket (the hispanic criminals, that happen to also be immigrants, as cited above), but there are many other Latinos/Hispnics/Latinex that are not. Growing up the media decpicted all Puerto Ricans as knife toting delinguents. Yes there were Puerto Ricans that carried knives and committed crimes, but so have there been many other criminals that are not Puerto Rican or Latino/Hispanic/Latinex, I mentioned a few above. FYI New York’s organized crime as depicted in The Godfather movie continued operating in New York City until the 1980’s when then New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani all but wiped them out.


This week both President Biden and Donald Trump visited the southern border. Each had a different view on the situation. But what we should not ignor is that Biden extended a hand to Trump and invited him to sit down to dicuss a plan to solve the border issue. Trump rejected the offer and instead went on a tirade. Just as the Republicans whom have been gripeing for the past three years that Biden was not doing anything to help relieve the border criss, rejected a bipartisan plan that took months to iron out.

For the past two years I have been working at a small non profit called Helping Immigrants Thrive, Inc. I was hired to develop a program to help the immigrants that were being left at the Port Authority Bus Station after being escorted out of Texas. We get no funding. We have been opperating out of a church basement in the Bronx. We have assisted hundreds of undocumented immigrants file for asylum, temporary protected status, and work authorizations. We greet each and everyone that comes to us with a hot cup of Bustelo coffee and provide warm clothing when we can.

I organized a Community Outreach event that would have taken place in Crotona Park but the NYC Parks Department is making it immposible for us to obtain a permit. I had a nine agencies willing to participate in this event. We would have offered information about the various services and service providers in the Bronx that work with undocumented immigrants. The resources, scarse as they may be, are there and we were willing to make them available.

What a difference in New York City Leadership. In the 1800’s the Mayor adovacted inclusion (ie, Castle Garen and Ellis Island), and in 2023 the Mayor throws his hands up and says NO MAS. Now in 2024 he wants to reverse New York City’s sanctuary city status rather than work to find solutions.

If you want to join with like minded people, people that want to actually to do something, not surrender and say No Mas, or if would like to contribute please visit our website

NOTE dated May 1, 2024:
The NYC Parks Department did issue the permit, and we did do our community outreach event in Crotona Park on April 6, 2024. Seven out of the nine agencys did come out. Unfortunately April 6, 2024 was a rather cold day and not many people showed up. Oh well, c’est la vie – that’s life.