By Victor Ordonez
I have a long history of surprising people when I first meet them. When teachers would call out my last name for attendance, they often expect to find a darker toned Ecuadorian boy. Instead they find me – a pale skinned Irish lad with blond hair and blue eyes.
The name Ordonez is derived from five generations of Ecuadorian decent. Jorge Ordonez, my grandfather, came to this country seeking work and a better life than the one he was given in Ecuador. Jorge soon had a wife and children, one of which married my mother: a woman of pure Irish descent.
In every way, this aspiring journalist is the product of immigration, and I expect most who are reading this are as well. This underlying fact makes it difficult to remain silent as the United States continues to polarize itself on the issue of immigration.
I can only hope that a day will come when a teacher can hear any variety of last names and not assume what a student will look like.
Unfortunately, by continuing to accept the principles that embody President Trump’s Muslim ban as well as his party’s policies regarding immigration, we continue to encourage discrimination and racism.
Border walls and registration do not affect criminals and terrorists. Implementations of power like the President’s most recent executive order on refugees and immigration only affect the immigrants already here. These are our fellow classmates, our friends and our coworkers.
On Sunday, Jan. 29, Reverend Joseph M. McShane commented on the most recent order. McShane said the order had “shocked and unsettled many Americans.”
In light of the order, McShane made a firm vow to stand with students affected. “We have a long history as a University of and for immigrants, in a city and a nation built by immigrants,” said McShane.
Although McShane’s promise will likely promote the correct message to students and Universities facing the same dilemma, it will not be enough to undo the damage already inflicted on our society.
There has always been evidence of prejudice in our culture. Some instances have been more indirect than others, like assuming a physical identity based on a name or title. However, we will begin to see these prejudices take a more direct approach as citizens begin to assume an entire nationality to have hostile intentions.
The only way to truly remedy the damages done to our society is to remind United States citizens that this country is as much no one’s as it is everyone’s. I would not be here writing for The Fordham Ram if it were not for one courageous immigrant who took a leap of faith that stretched hundreds of miles. Each refugee represents Jorge and his journey, and every time a refugee or immigrant is denied that journey America risks losing the next great doctor, professor or journalist.
For the sake of the next great American citizen, we cannot allow ourselves to be divided any further. If you support the laws that divide us because you believe the economic value outweighs the social, I beg that you look to your diverse Fordham community and reconsider your position.