Gustav Klatt, far left, helped move the birthplace of the very party that now views his kind as not good enough to be an American.
Gustav Klatt, far left, helped move the birthplace of the very party that now views his kind as not good enough to be an American.

       Our president boasts that he attended the best schools and has “one of the finest” cabinets filled with “really, really great people.”

       Despite confessing that “I’m really smart — I went to the Wharton School of Finance,” President Trump promised to fill the White House with “the greatest minds.”

       He explains that America’s success rests on the affluence of his advisors “because I want people that made a fortune.”

      People who are intelligent and wealthy are highly valued by our superlative president.

      The corollary: Poor and uneducated? Not so much.

       So it’s no surprise that our Republican president and others from his party are suggesting the country should create a point-based merit system to decide who is allowed to immigrate to the United States.

      How would this work?

       Under a proposed Senate bill, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” the proposed merit-based visa category would allow an alien to accrue points based on level of education, work experience, family ties to the United States and other attributes. Alien applicants with the highest overall points in a year would be given green cards.

     For example, a PhD would earn an applicant 15 points, a master’s 10 points and a bachelor’s 5 points.

     Likewise, a prospective immigrant would receive more points for having an occupation where extensive preparation is needed such as surgeon, biologist, dentist, neurologist, mathematician, family and general practitioner, physicist and sociologist. ...

     Dairy farmers aren’t on those lists.

     Yet Paul Dyk, former dairy and livestock agent with the University of Wisconsin Extension-Fond du Lac County, reported in 2008 that Hispanic labor is a critical component of Wisconsin’s workforce and, in particular, in its dairy industry.

     After interviewing more than 300 farmers at 34 farms in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties, Dyk determined that 70 percent of the employees are of Hispanic origin. ...

     Merit-based immigration would reward points based on high-paying job offers, past achievements, English-language ability and education.

     Although dairy farmers, gardeners, house cleaners and manual laborers  are not offered high-paying jobs, they are as critical to the economy as the “really, really great people” that Trump treasures.

     So are those who move buildings, literally, such as Gustav Klatt.

     He emmigrated from Germany to the United States in the latter half of the 19th century and lived in Ripon during the early to mid 1900s. Not only did he never attend the Wharton School of Finance, Klatt was illiterate.

     Though he could neither read nor write, Klatt had sufficient brawn and brains to move buildings

     And so it was he who, in 1908, 1941 and probably in 1951, moved Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse to different sites around the city.
Would Klatt ...  have immigrated to America were the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” to become law?

     Possibly not, given his most modest credentials.

     Could someone else have moved the birthplace of the party whose members now want to turn America into a gated community allowing only “really, really great” visitors?

     Probably.

     But what this immigrant lacked in “merit” he more than made up for in muscle and moxie.

     When we determine who we value to be our new friends and neighbors, that’s got to count for something.  
                                                       — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Nov. 30, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.