My ancestors came to the United States from England, Germany, Sweden and Ireland. Does that make me an immigrant? Does it matter they came in the mid 19th century?

Does it matter my great, great grandfather was illiterate and fought in the Crimean war and the U.S. Civil War? Does anyone care my great grandparents ran the poor house and farm for a local city?

Does it matter my Irish relatives back in the 1860s were forced to hold secret Catholic masses in their home to escape harassment and the KKK – yes in New Jersey. All the others were Protestants.

Does it matter that they, including my parents, never went to college?

Needless to say, they were all white and all Europeans.

My wife’s relatives were from Naples and Sicily Italy. They came through Ellis Island where a couple had their names changed by officials. To a lot of people, including some of my relatives, these folks arrival was not appreciated.

I know the Irish ancestors were escaping the famine, but no idea why the others left Europe. I’m thinking they viewed America as a better place to live with their families, to gain new opportunities.

Perhaps that is the way today’s immigrants view America, as a better place – which I suspect some Americans can’t understand. And just like in previous centuries many “Americans” find it hard to accept newcomers. 

I can recall all the racial and ethnic slurs that popped about in my family. I can still feel the vibes in my family when I announced I was marrying an Italian Catholic. 

I’ve lost track, what are the words used today to describe new immigrants?

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