Problem With Immigration? Meet My Grandfather

Letters to the Editor immigration

To The Editor:

This letter is in response to the recent articles covering immigration.

My grandfather Albert Joseph Bialek came to the United States from Poland (Galicia) in 1910. Per the Ellis Island website, he boarded the ship Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse in Bremen, Germany (formerly Prussia). He had just completed his service in the Austrian Army. Poland at that time was divided into three spheres of influence by Austria, Prussia and Russia.

Upon being discharged, he returned to his father’s farm. Officers from the Austrian Army made an attempt to reenlist him but tradition dictated that he could remain at home so long as he was sorely needed on the farm. Immediately after the officers departed, Albert’s father gave him his brother’s travel documents and instructed him to immigrate to the United States. His father knew that war was coming and he didn’t want to lose his son to it.

It took me longer to locate my grandfather on the passenger list because I had forgotten he was traveling under the name Jan (John) and not Albert.

Given the fact that Albert entered the United States under the name Jan Bialek and later burned his immigration papers, it is evident he was by definition an “illegal immigrant.” He went on to become a very hard-working brick mason and law-abiding citizen raising 12 children with the help of his Polish wife Mary (nee Mazan) and the rest (as they say) is history.

Just as Cleveland, Ohio, is a city of neighborhoods, so is the United States a country of immigrants. In fact all the major cities of America (at one time) served as incubators for immigrants to not only become accustomed to the ways of this country but also to intermingle with each other (often prohibited in their native homeland).

It’s a shame that the inner cities were handed over to the absentee landlords following World War ll. Just imagine how much stronger and united our country might have been had this unofficial tradition continued.

Gentrification is not the answer.

Preventing immigration is not the solution.

Intense vetting is acceptable during these challenging times but to unfairly deny one person access to the United States makes us all orphans again. As a popular song goes: “let me in immigration man.”

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, OH

1 Comment

  1. There I was at the immigration scene
    Shining and feeling clean
    Could it be a sin?
    I got stopped by the immigration man
    He says he doesn’t know if he can.

    Let me in,
    Let me in, immigration man,
    Can I cross the line and pray
    I can stay another day
    Let me in, immigration man
    I won’t toe your line today
    I can’t see it anyway. Hey hey
    There he was with his immigration face
    Giving me a paper chase
    But the son was coming

    Cause all at once he looked into my space
    And stamped a number over my face
    And it sent me running
    Won’t you let me in, immigration man
    Can I cross the line and pray
    I can stay another day
    Won’t you let me in, immigration man
    I won’t toe your line today
    I can’t see it anyway.

    Here I am with my immigration form
    It’s big enough to keep me warm
    When a cold wind’s coming
    So go where you will
    As long as you think you can
    You’d better watch out, watch out for the man
    Anywhere you’re going.

    Come on and let me in, immigration man,
    Can I cross the line and pray
    Take your fingers from the tray.

    Let me in, irritation man,
    I won’t toe your line today
    I can’t see it anyway.

    Songwriters
    NASH, GRAHAM

    Read more: Crosby & Nash – Immigration Man Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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