By James S. Irani, New York
This morning, March 25, 2008, I had the great honor of meeting personally with the New York City Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, on the occasion of the old and traditional Norouz celebration at his official residence at Gracie Mansion. I had met him before; however, this morning was a turning point in my judgment of him as he proved to be a practical and a no non-sense human being, not just a politician.
Himself a descendent of an immigrant family, he demonstrated many understandings the communities are going through now. But first, allow me to convey to you his message of great contribution of immigrants to the New York City community, including those of Iranians' and diversity which has made New York City a unique fabrique of an outstanding city in the country. Mayor Bloomberg has now made it an official part of his calendar to annually invite a selected number of community members for a Norouz breakfast and to express his granitite for the contribution of Iranians and other Farsi-speaking people.
His Honor spoke of Lou Dobbs, the anti-immigrant and war-monger mouth of the Republican left wing that fear immigrants will take over the country and drive out its citizens. Mayor Bloomberg spoke of the facts the immigrants have brought in with their hard work and tax money. He cited statistics which showed 75% of immigrants, even those who are here illegally, paid taxes which help the city function its daily duties. He even mentioned many of these people who pay taxes do so with an incorrect Social Security numbers; but, they do pay taxes. Mayor Bloomberg has parted from his Republican and Democratic counterparts in supporting an immigration law which could provide legal status to millions of people having lived here illegally for many years.
In this election year when all candidates walk a tight rope on the immigration issue and no one has the guts to stand up and speak for nearly 15 million undocumented immigrants in the country, Mayor Bloomberg is a voice to listen to. He once decided to run as an Independent for President, but, now he sees the situation as crazy and pixilated. He is clearly disappointed with the political process. Sending 15 millions people back to their countries after having lived here for many years just does not make any sense." What Mayor Bloomberg expresses, with no fear from other politicians, is the voice of the people in the country. People do not recognize the contributions immigrants have made to our society. Mayor Bloomberg's message of Norouz to Iranians and his courage to speak out should be heard by other politicians. Immigrants make communities vibrant and prosperous. They seek a peaceful life with the lowest crime rate in the country and highest tax payers therein.
We Iranians should encourage our presidential candidates to heed to the message of Michael Bloomberg. We should get this message to them. We cannot and should not sit idle and let the events take us with them. We should make the events. We should be part of the events. We should not let this opportunity slip away from us. We should speak out, we should vote and we should help shape events. A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds. We do not do what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are. We should have a united voice.
About the author: James S. Irani, an attorney
from New York City, is the president of the Voice of Iranian-Americans at 1170
Broadway, Suite 510, New York, New York 10001, Tel: (212) 683-7700.
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