We left the Equality Ohio event early in order that we might go to the Lakewood Library to take in a program about immigration by Dr. Richard Boyd, who served as the Superintendent of the Lakewood Schools from 1975-1984, as well as in other prominent posts in the educational community.
Upon arrival, we introduced ourselves to Dr. Boyd and presented him with a copy of Ms. Margaret W. Wong’s book The Immigrant’s Way which he was very grateful to receive.
We were pleased that the conference room in the library where the program took place contained more than just a few people, all of them eager to learn more about the topic of immigration.
At the start of the program, Dr. Boyd was introduced by Mr. John Vacha, Director of the Lakewood Historical Society, which put on this program in collaboration with the Lakewood Library. Mr. Vacha told us that he, himself, had been a teacher for over thirty years and went on to note that few school administrators were as dedicated to continuing their own scholarship as much as Dr. Boyd.
In the course of his presentation, Dr. Boyd said that he wanted to concentrate on the history of immigration to the United States and not too much on the last couple of years (i.e. since the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign) because that was not so much history as it was current events.
Nevertheless, what Dr. Boyd had to say from a historical standpoint had relevance to the current events of today as he discussed immigration patterns regarding those who came here from Ireland, Germany, Southern Europe, China, and Italy. Dr. Boyd demonstrated that all of the above peoples had experienced discrimination when they initially settled in the United States in large numbers. To us, it is a tragic irony that the descendants of these peoples inflict the same discrimination on new arrivals.
He attributed the resentment to religion and misconceptions about the role that the newcomers had/have in criminal activities and job shortages. Perhaps most importantly, that they were regarded as “the other” and thus not like “us”.
Through the usage of statistics obtained from such credible sources as U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Dr. Boyd was able to demonstrate that immigrants/refugees were not a drain on our economy; the number of undocumented people coming here from Mexico has actually declined in recent years; both documented and undocumented immigrants were far less likely to commit major crimes than those of us who are native-born; and that the lion’s share of undocumented people living in the United States were documented when they first arrived but then proceeded to overstay their visas.
Dr. Boyd also spoke of the worldwide refugee crisis (i.e. the largest since WWII) and shared with us a personal experience wherein his church sponsored a family from Cuba and what a rewarding experience it was for all concerned.
In reference to the the passing of former President George H.W. Bush, Dr. Boyd recalled that it was during his administration that the very progressive Immigration Reform Act of 1990 came into being. Dr. Boyd noted that this bill was a bipartisan collaboration-it received support from both democrats and republicans in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and was signed into law by a republican President. He said, with reminiscence, “wouldn’t it be nice to go back to those days?”