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Saturday, January 28, 2017

One day, we will apologize.



I spent two years living overseas.

As billets go, it was an easy doss. Everyone spoke a form of English, though the further north I went the harder it became to understand it.

But I was a foreigner nonetheless. I registered with Inspector Morse's Thames Valley Police, in its grotty office down below Christ Church, for permission to stay a year, and then for permission to remain for a second.

I registered with the NHS and when I was feeling poorly I got better health care than I would have- then or now- in my home country, without question of my nationality.

In the spring of 1980, I was sitting with friends at the Turf Tavern with friends, knocking back a few Guinnii, as a Latin scholar among us denominated Guinness lagers.

One asked me if I'd be interested in going in with them in an-off campus house for the 1980-81 school year.

I'm done, I replied. Exams in June, degree day in August. Home, then law school.
My friend paused. "You know," he said, at length, "I never thought of you as a foreigner."

And that was the best compliment I ever received.

Today, our President has put the power of the law in play to indulge his whimsies about people from other lands. To him, people from overseas are either terrorists or greenskeepers and maids.

Under his orders, green card holders cannot come home to their families. An Iranian film-maker cannot come see if he will win an Oscar. Students cannot return to complete their studies.

I am so grateful the United Kingdom welcomed a foreigner from a small town in North Carolina into its life so long ago.

When I left, the last immigration control officer I saw at Gatwick Airport scanned my paperwork. "Left-handed nib, sir?" he asked of my scrawl.

He smiled. I nodded.

May those days return for students coming to America.

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