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Immigration Museum Proposal on the National Mall; By: Danielle Beach-Oswald

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Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.


Rep. Jim Moran (D-Virginia) and Rep. John Duncan (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill to Congress on July 7th that proposes the creation of a National Museum of the American People to be built on the National Mall. This bill, co-sponsored by 10 other members of Congress, calls for a presidential commission to study the idea of an immigration museum, which would cover the history of immigration, the role of immigration on the development of American society, and the migration stories of various ethnic groups.


This proposal comes in light of the recent trend of planning and building individual ethnic museums on the National Mall. A presidential commission on the possible creation of a Latino museum submitted its report to President Obama this spring. The Smithsonian is currently developing plans for an African-American history museum. Rep. Moran is a critic of such individual ethnic museums as he believes this does not serve justice in representing the "near infinite number of peoples that have come together to form one nation". However, he assures that the plan for an all-encompassing immigration museum would not obstruct the plans for individual ethnic museums.


The legislation is supported by over 130 ethnic and minority groups, including those of Arab, Jewish, German, and Chinese descent, and by more than 50 scholars. Rep. Moran has stated that the presidential commission and the museum's construction will not be funded by any federal taxpayer revenues, but rather from private donations.


The public opinion and response to the proposal has been mixed at best. There was optimism at the prospect of a museum that highlighted the important role of immigration from all ethnic groups in building American society. The idea of an immigration museum that encompasses the history of all immigrant groups symbolically presents the "melting-pot" of America that characterizes this nation. On the other hand, the legislation was not received without doubts and concerns. So far, national museums have not done a thorough job in covering the history of immigration and the story of each immigrant population. Select ethnic groups seeking to build their own museums do not have confidence in the National Museum of the American people to represent their stories and their role in American development sufficiently, and would rather build a museum devoted to their ethnic group. Another cause of concern is that this museum should focus in presenting the history of these immigrant groups from all ethnic groups and races. It needs to take caution and consciously work so that this museum does not become a simple celebration of foreign cultures; it must cater to the greater public so that people would be interested in coming to learn about how immigrant groups built and contributed to this nation.

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