Friday, September 4, 2009

Immigration and Forest Park

Our park touches five different neighborhoods in Queens. If you took a tour of all the homes on the blocks adjacent to or within a walk of the park, you would find urban mansions, condos, new homes, large and small apartment complexes and simple one family homes. You will find people who have only arrived in our country and those who have been here for many generations. The streets are neat and the homes kept clean. The users of Forest Park are, for the most part middle class and up. The difference is that many of the new immigrants to this part of Queens come from the third world. They arrive here from cultures where conditions are such that existence means exploiting the place you live for sustenance. These places don't have public parks, they don't have reliable plumbing, they lack sanitation and there is no sense that land must be preserved for further generations. We, the people of the United States, more specifically the teachers, park officials, social workers, police and citizenry of Queens have obviously not done enough to educate and inform our growing population of third world immigrants. I grew up in Queens and learned in first grade that we never throw so much as a gum wrapper on the street or certainly not in a public park. For all the talk about raising standards and lowering class sizes, do we still teach kids not to litter? Particularly, for these new immigrants who have come to us from countries that have been long exploited by the first world, robbed of their natural resources, forced into lives of abject poverty, have we done enough to inculcate our values ? I think it's time for America to realize that the past is over. We are feeling the effect of the long exploitation of the third world. The answer isn't to build bigger fences.

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