As I child, I remember the crackling, poorly connected international phone calls on our landline from lawyers speaking in languages we didn’t understand. They were from a firm who’d been hired for a mass-settlement to aid survivors and people like my grandmother who were forced out of Austria during World War II.
My grandmother, Marguerite Toepfer, was forced to flee her homeland of Austria due to her Jewish heritage. She escaped without harm, safe from the horrendous treatment subjected to millions of others during that time. During that period, she was dating Peter Furst, who later penned the biographical novel Don Quixote in Exile and mentioned her in the book.
Fast forward many years. Marguerite became Margarite when she moved to America. She met my grandfather, and my father was born. Because of all of that, I am here today. Or should I say, because of all of those opportunities. My grandmother was allowed the opportunity and resources to become an American citizen, and for her it was a success and a new start.
This edition, we share stories of immigration experiences. We observe that even in our modern world, where resources are available at the touch of a button to some, opportunity still isn’t equal to all. This world, our reality, is still one where children are separated from their parents and kept in cages, people are shot crossing international borders, and wars rage over taxes, tariffs, and trade.
I have everything I have today because Marguerite was strong enough, and had enough resources, to escape. I wish for equal opportunity for all and the option to procure the resources for success whether that be immigrating to the U.S., or simply trying to build a life here.
While we cannot propose a solution to change the world in a day, we as a newspaper and as community members can do three things: share knowledge, form an educated decision in our own minds about what is right and wrong, and help others to receive the same opportunities that we have through our support of their struggles, be that by providing them resources, or just lending an ear.
“More than any other nation on Earth, America has constantly drawn strength and spirit from wave after wave of immigrants. In each generation, they have proved to be the most restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most industrious of people. Bearing different memories, honoring different heritages, they have strengthened our economy, enriched our culture, renewed our promise of freedom and opportunity for all …” ~ Bill Clinton.