In 1889, my great-grandfather and his brothers left their home in Lucca, Italy and traveled to the port of Le Havre, France, where they boarded a ship bound for New York. They left their homeland to escape the economic misery and political chaos that typified the Kingdom of Italy in the late 1800s. They came to build a new life in a new land.
For them, the immigration process was not long. They were asked a few questions, were inspected for disease, and were allowed to enter.
Upon entry, they were met by a populace that despised and denigrated them for their peasant background, their Catholic religion, and their cultural differences.
Today, the immigration process is a good bit longer. Without American relatives or sponsors, an immigrant can wait up to six years for a visa, only then to begin the months-long process of background checks and vetting. Refugees fleeing the chaos and upheaval of war-torn regions such as the Levant may actually have a shorter wait-time, but their vetting process will take up to two years and includes interviews, background checks, screenings, security checks, cultural orientation, and registration with an American resettlement agency. Even getting a tourist visa — a requirement for most people outside of Europe and the Far East — is a relatively long process.
And when these immigrants finally enter the U.S. — if they are allowed to enter — they’ll now be met by a government that despises and denigrates them for their background, their religion, and their culture.