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Mass. Chief Justice: Law Trumps Bigotry Against Muslim Immigrants. By Roger Algase

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In an eloquent rebuke to the calls to exclude Muslim immigrants from the US for no other reason than that their religion has become the target of demagogic politicians and therefore unpopular with some of the US public, Massachusetts Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, who is Jewish, strongly condemned bigotry and Islamophobia in a speech at his state's largest mosque following Friday prayers on December 18.

Speaking at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Chief Justice Gants first referred to the Jewish tradition of acceptance of foreigners, while recalling the Jewish immigrant experience in America:

"The Old Testament many times reminds us: 'Once we were strangers in the land of Egypt, and that line is the centerpiece of the Jewish holiday of Passover. I think of that phrase often, because I know that my forefathers were once strangers in the land of the United States. as were the forefathers of nearly all of us, and many of us were not so welcome here."

Chief Justice Gants then spoke about America's history of prejudice against refugees and other immigrants from many different countries:

"In the 1840's and early 1850's, this country was not so welcoming to the influx of Irish Catholics fleeing the potato famine in Ireland...

For nearly a century, until 1965, our immigration laws were designed to prevent Chinese and Japanese from entering this country."

He continued:

"During the Great Depression, Mexican-Americans were scapegoated for the economic deprivation they did not cause, and more than two million were deported to Mexico. By some estimates, more than half were born in the United States and were therefore US citizens."

After also referring to America's history of discrimination against Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Japanese-Americans and, last but not least, African-Americans, Chief Justice Gants pointed out:

"If you add up all those who are Irish -Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, all of those who were once strangers in the land of Egypt, you end up with the vast majority of this nation."

Chief Justice Gants then concluded:

"So I hold firm in the hope that, if we remember who we are and where we came from and what we once endured, if we remember that we, too, were once strangers in the land of Egypt, the vast majority of Americans will stand arm-in-arm with Muslim-Americans and together, we will get past these troubling times."

And finally, in a reminder that the rule of law Trumps the rule of hate and prejudice, he stated:

And until that happens, we still have our Constitution and our rule of law to protect us, and lawyers, prosecutors and judges prepared to apply those laws to ensure our rights."

For many of our politicians, pundits and media figures this holiday season has become the season of Donald Trump and other public figures who are either trying to stir up hatred against Muslims and other unpopular immigrant minorities, or who are too timid to oppose it.

But for those who truly understand what America means, as well as the Jewish tradition and this Christmas day itself, this season will be remembered as the season of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

To read more about Chief Justice Gant's appearance at the mosque, and for a link to the full text of his speech, go to:

Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, both of which Justice Gants also attended.

For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants, from many different parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds, obtain work visas and green cards. His email address is

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Updated 12-28-2015 at 07:18 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Unregistered222's Avatar
    "If you add up all those who are Irish -Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, all of those who were once strangers in the land of Egypt, you end up with the vast majority of this nation."

    Looks like this judge finally lost it Since when Mexican-Americans were strangers in the land of Egypt? )) Sorry for those Muslims, trusting judges and lawyers with anything is very unwise (to say the least
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Merry Christmas to you, Unregitered222!

    There is a well known book that has some explanations about who were strangers in the Land of Egypt. It is called the Old Testament. If you think that that phrase means only the Jewish people, then you have obviously never been to a Jewish Passover ceremony, or understood the true meaning of Exodus, one which many 10 year old Jewish children evidently know better than you do.

    There is also another part of the Bible, called the New Testament, which tells a story about a Jewish family from Galilee (not far from Syria) who had to travel to Bethlehem, about 90 miles away, to register for tax purposes.

    The mother was pregnant and it must have been a difficult and arduous, if not dangerous, journey. When they got to Bethlehem, no one wanted to take them in and the mother finally had to give birth in a stable.

    They were about as welcome in Bethlehem as Syrian refugees would be in America if you and Donald Trump were running the show (as he in fact already seems to be doing).

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  3. Unregistered222's Avatar
    Interesting Roger. Never thought of this way. Very comprehensive explanation. Thank you. I do have disagreements with Trump.
  4. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    It's a shame that Roger sees hatred and bigotry in virtually everyone who doesn't share his views on immigration issues. Even if everything he has ever said is true, continuously expressing such negative views of people who disagree with him serves no constructive purpose and tends to suggest that he is the real bigot, not the people he is so relentlessly criticizing. I challenge Roger to leave out pejorative adjectives in his next article to determine whether his message is all sound and fury, signifying nothing or based on solid reasoning. And I extend the same challenges to the other people who write articles on immigration policy issues.
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I don't know why Nolan has a problem with anyone who uses unquestionably accurate words such as "bigotry", "hate" or "prejudice" in characterizing certain past and present attitudes toward unpopular minority immigrants in America, as described in Chief Justice Gants' speech at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

    Admittedly, Chief Justice Gants did not use those exact words in his speech. But no objective reader could possibly doubt that this is what the Chief Justice was talking about. Here are some of the words that he actually did use in describing negative attitudes toward Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, Chinese, Italian, Mexican and other less than popular immigrants at various times in our history:

    "discrimination", "denial of equal rights", "acts of violence", "despised", "anger", "scapegoated" and "lynching".

    Those are all Chief Justice Gants' words, not mine. If Nolan doesn't like the use of "pejorative adjectives" on the part of people who are speaking out against adopting and promoting negative attitudes toward unpopular minority immigrants, he should feel free to address his comments to Chief Justice Gants directly.

    In the meantime, Nolan certainly has the right, if he wishes, to remain in his own alternative universe of political correctness in reverse where bigotry, hatred and prejudice against minority immigrants do not exist, but even the most wild and extreme expressions of anti-immigrant "scapegoating" (to use Chief Justice Gants' word), such as Donald Trump's proposal to ban all of the world's one billion plus Muslims from entering the US until further notice (from Trump imperator himself, no doubt) are nothing but "legitimate discussions of immigration policy".

    Even George Orwell would be rolling his eyes in amazement at that form of "newspeak".

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 12-28-2015 at 08:10 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  6. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    My comments don't apply just to Roger or just to his article in this issue of I can't remember reading any liberal articles on immigration issues that don't use pejorative terms in discussing republican immigration views. If a republican calls for a reduction in the number of H-1Bs, he is anti-immigration. If he objects to the volume of undocumented immigrants flowing across the southern border, he is anti-Hispanic. And so on. The same thing happens if he uses the "wrong" words. A republican can't say "illegal alien," for instance, without being called anti-immigrant. In fact, Roger even objects to the term "alien" despite its presence in the INA. This is an illogical response to Republican views. I mean that literally.

    "Argumentum ad Hominem" (abusive and circumstantial): the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack.

    And it is preventing meaningful discussion between the parties.
  7. tlwinslow's Avatar
    Quoting soundbytes from the Old Testament to formulate modern U.S. foreign policy isn't smart, it's lame. The U.S. needs smarter judges who will wrestle with all the facts about Islam, namely, that it isn't just another form of worship, it's an all-embracing global domination ideology that preaches not just intolerance but SUPREMACISM, and encourages subversion and overthrow of all non-Muslim "infidel" governments and their Constitutions, America's being no exception. Hence every Muslim in our borders is a potential enemy combatant and agent of a foreign power, and if the Constitution isn't a suicide pact, toleration has to have limits.

    I'm sure that Islam ignoramus Algase can't stand Donald Trump's promise that as president he will ban all Muslim entry into the U.S. until Congress can figure out what to do, hopefully, make the ban permanent, but this is perfectly constitutional, as the Supreme Court ruled in 1952 in Harisiades v. Shaughnessy that Congress has an absolute power to ban anybody they deem a threat to national security, and too bad for you lawyers, they can't even review their motives because it's none of their business.

    For 1400 years every nation that underestimated Islam and failed to understand its supremacism was destroyed and absorbed into the Muslim World, never to break free. The U.S. must not let that happen, no many how many civil rights lawyers it has running around, sorry.
  8. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    With regard to Nolan's comment, he is stating my views correctly when he says that I believe that the term "alien" should not be used to describe immigrants or foreign citizens. It has always had a pejorative meaning, ever since the notorious early 19th century Alien and Sedition Act.

    Nolan is also correct in pointing out that "alien" is used in our immigration law. It is in fact a key term in the INA, used again and again. It should be removed from the law and replaced by a less pejorative term, of which there are many available, such as, for example the simple and commonly used words "foreigner", "foreign person", or 'non-US citizen".

    Nolan is also fond of the phrase argumentum ad hominem.

    I admire his use of Latin. I am fond of using Latin phrases myself. One of my favorites is the phrase that Virgil, in Book 1 of the Aeneid , puts in the mouth of the legendary Queen Dido of Carthage:

    "Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur"

    This phrase can be translated as:

    "I make no distinction between an immigrant [Trojan] and a citizen [Tyrian or Carthagenian]."

    To be fair, the above is more of an ideal, a recognition of common humanity and the right to equal justice under the law than it is a practical suggestion for drafting a 21st century immigration statute.

    As Virgil also mentions in his great epic poem, Queen Dido's liberal views on immigration did not prevent her from relying on border guards to protect the security of her realm.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 12-29-2015 at 07:47 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  9. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    tlwinslow's anti-Muslim rant is a perfect illustration of why it is not only legitimate, but necessary, to use words such as "hatred" and "bigotry" in opposing people who want to stop immigration by or otherwise persecute and discriminate against unpopular immigrant minorities.

    All one needs to do is change a few words and phrases here and there, and Winslow's diatribe could just as easily have been copied from similar attacks against Jewish and Catholic immigrants at various times in America's past by anti-Semites, Know-Nothings and various other assorted xenophobic and nativist groups.

    As Polybius writes in Book 1 of his Histories (Loeb Classical Library translation, 2010):

    "...the soundest education and training for a life of active politics is the study of History..."

    Chief Justice Gants, in his remarks, shows a knowledge and appreciation of America's all too extensive history of bigotry, fear and discrimination against a long list of unpopular ethnic or religious immigrant groups.

    Donald Trump and today's other minority immigrant-haters seem to think that Muslims and Hispanics, their favorite targets du jour, are the only immigrants who have ever been regarded as dangerous or otherwise undesirable in America.

    But as Chief Justice Gants points out, if one adds up the list of immigrants who have been attacked and regarded as unwelcome in America in the past, it would include the ancestors of nearly all of us who are fortunate enough to be able to call ourselves Americans today.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 12-29-2015 at 08:34 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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