My maternal grandparents came to America in the early 1900s: Giuseppi Cimino and Fortunata Cardia, both right off the boat in New York and Baltimore from Cefalu, a lovely but economically challenged little town on the north coast of Sicily. Their life here wasn’t easy, not when terms like wop and dago were rife. But they set up a grocery store in Austin on the West Side and raised and sent into the world a family despite the Great Depression; they lived good lives.
My father’s people got here earlier, in various batches from Prussia (Hinz), Ireland (Riley) and Sweden (Olsen). Dad’s parents, a fireman named Julius and a housewife named Margaret, lived on the Southwest Side, where my father, when not talking about the family’s bathtub gin, used to recall that one of the local streets separated the lugans (Lithuanians) from the rest of polyglot Chicago.
That’s the way this town always has been, a witch’s brew of opportunity and competing ethnicities where, over time, everyone learned to live together, more or less. I couldn’t help but think of that when President Donald Trump rolled out his big, tough plan to battle illegal immigration.
I don’t have a problem with enforcing our border. There are rules, and I support reasonable efforts to enforce them. Barack Obama deported more people than any other president, and he was right to do it.
Read the full story from Crain’s Chicago Business: “My grandparents were immigrants“