Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Tale of Legal Immigration

Many years ago, I gave a speech at Cornell University in New York, and a young Chinese girl named Ying Ma was in charge of that event. It was a pleasant and successful evening. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to receive a letter from her reminding me of that event and enclosing a book she wrote under the title Chinese Girl in the Ghetto. Her book tells the story of her legal immigration from China in 1985. Ying Ma proudly points out that her family came to the U.S. legally. The Ma family had to wait years for their turn to immigrate. They never questioned whether America’s immigration requirements were unreasonable or too difficult. The Ma family respected American laws. They saw coming to America as a privilege, not a right.

Ying Ma’s book is also a story about freedom in America, contrasted with oppression in China. She tells about her childhood in China where the focus was not on getting ahead but on accepting China’s poverty and scarcity of goods as natural.

When Ying Ma's family arrived in California, they lived in inner city Oakland, surrounded by crime and racial violence. However, she discovered opportunities. Hard work—not handouts—got Ying Ma out of the ghetto, into Cornell University, and then into Stanford Law School. She went on to work for a leading Wall Street firm, a congressional commission, and then a prominent conservative think tank.

Her story is the old-fashioned American immigrant story. She came here legally, she had the hope to succeed, and she relied on hard work to create a new life in a free country. We need more families like this, and we need Americans who understand that this old American dream is still attainable, without amnesty, without welfare.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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