In the now famous musical about America’s greatest immigrant, Caribbean-born Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda takes creative license by having the actor playing Hamilton say to the actor playing Marquis de Lafayette at center-stage: “We’re immigrants. We get the job done.”
The lyric has resonated with many, especially our present generation of immigrants, and rang true again last week, as two Caribbean immigrants took center stage in the COVID-19 fight and the U.S. vaccination roll-out.
Nurse Sandra Lindsay, who was the first person in the country to get the first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, was born in Jamaica. The doctor who administered the first shot, Dr. Michelle Chester, was born in Guyana.
Both began their lives in humble beginnings. Nurse Lindsay migrated to the U.S. at age 22. She went to community college and then to Lehman College in the Bronx for her nursing degree.
Dr. Chester after moving from Georgetown Guyana attended Far Rockaway High School and then Rutgers University.
Both worked their way up the ladder as new immigrants, rising through the ranks in the medical field in their adopted homeland, to end up in the Northwell Health system.
Both are on the front lines of the daily fight against the virus that has essentially shut down the world and killed over 1.6 million globally and over 300,000 alone in the U.S.
Both have seen the devastation firsthand, especially in the Black and Brown immigrant communities of New York City.
On Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, they proved once again what Miranda was moved to write in ‘Hamilton,’ and what Nevis-born Alexander Hamilton himself delivered so many years for America––immigrants, get the job done!
And lost in the news is the fact that another immigrant, Guyanese Vidia Surendra Roopchand, the principal research scientist at pharma giant Pfizer in New York was on the team that developed the much-needed COVID-19 vaccine that was approved for emergency use and first injected in the U.S. last week.
Despite the scapegoating of immigrants by the right and the Trump administration and the false narratives that immigrants come to the U.S. to kill and commit crimes against native born Americans––immigrants are a benefit, not a burden to these United States.
That has been proven time and time again and most of all in this pandemic. Currently, there are millions of immigrant scientists, nurses, doctors, EMTs, nurse aids, home health aides, nursing home workers, cleaners, security guards, administrative staffers, police officers, grocery store workers, restaurant workers, farmworkers, meat packers, deliver drivers and so many, many more on the front lines, getting the job done to keep the country functioning and safe.
They are the true heroes of 2020, putting themselves on the line at great personal risk to themselves and their families. They are the ones who should be on the magazine covers––not politicians.
As we wrap up 2020, with its horrors and shockers, I’m reminded again of the quote from the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who once said: “Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of America.”
Nurse Lindsay, Dr. Chester and Mr. Roopchand have made that fabric a lot richer indeed.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow