Not from around here

Navab Brothers with kids
Navab Brothers with kids

Today, as I write this, thousands of Americans are taking part in a A Day Without Immigrants, in which business leaders are closing their doors in solidarity with U.S. non-natives.

The movement, as NPR described it, is a response to President Trump’s immigration agenda, which includes a pledge to seal the U.S. border with Mexico and a (now on-hold) travel ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.

This gesture, I’d argue, is a big deal, even if it is highly symbolic. This day, of course, would be an even bigger deal if literally all immigrants were removed from not just the labor force, but also our communities.

Our economy, our so-called American way of life, would surely — in just a few seconds — crumble without immigrants.

Do we need some reasonable regulation when it comes to immigration? Of course we do. But I’m of the mind that some folks could do with a little reality check. (Side note: If you’re a Christian, ask yourself what Christ would think of Trump’s wall.)

Aren’t we all (Native Americans notwithstanding) immigrants or decedents of immigrants? How many families in Minnesota alone can trace their roots to so-called unskilled immigrant farmers whose way of life was to work off the land?

Where does your ancestry take you? In my case, it’s France, by way of Quebec, at least on my mom’s side. My American-born mother, who grew up in Rolla, N.D., spoke only French until she attended first grade.

Should she have been sent home or banned or walled off for not being American enough and not speaking English as her first language? If my mother were from Iran — or Juarez — would you feel differently?

This month, I’m proud that our Cover Stars — two longtime Minneapolis entrepreneurs — are former immigrants.

The story of Sam and Far Navab, the founders of the Navab Brothers Oriental Rug Company in St. Louis Park, isn’t just one of escape from persecution in their native country, Iran. It’s the tale of two trustworthy, hardworking men, who at one point were penniless, but who found a way — in a span of 30 years — to achieve the American Dream. In fact, their businesses have created jobs for 16 people.

They’re Minnesotans. They’re immigrants. They’re also U.S. citizens.

And I’m beyond glad they’re in our community — and on the cover of Good Age.