As America’s gets ready to celebrate its 241st birthday, one of its Founding Fathers, undocumented immigrant Alexander Hamilton, must be turning over in his grave as the Republican Party this week pushed the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and ‘Kate’s Law,’ two bills designed, respectively, to bar some federal grants from so-called “sanctuary cities,” or cities that say they will not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities; and install harsher penalties for repeat illegal entry to the US.
But one man is standing up for immigrants and sending a powerful message this July Fourth weekend that is truly worth celebrating.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Puerto Rico-roots composer, playwright, actor and singer who shot to fame for creating and starring in the Broadway musical about the life of Hamilton, on Wednesday, June 28th, debuted the powerful new video for “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done).”
The song is a cut off The Hamilton Mixtape and was inspired by a lyric in the Hamilton song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).”
The video focuses on the plight of refugees from war-torn situations to ICE raids – as well as their indispensable contributions upon immigrating to America.
It also features immigrant roots rappers K’naan, Residente, Riz MC (a.k.a. The Night Of actor Riz Ahmed) and Snow Tha Product.
K’naan, is a Somali Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist while Residente is a Puerto Rican rapper, writer, producer and founder of the alternative rap group Calle 13. Rizwan Ahmed, also known as Riz MC, is a British Pakistani actor, rapper and activist while Claudia Alexandra Feliciano, known professionally as Snow Tha Product, is an Mexican-American Hip Hop recording artist from San Jose, California.
The song was written by Miranda during the 2016 presidential campaign, which was largely fueled by Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall between the US and Mexico.
Snow tha product’s line about immigrants being “America’s ghostwriters” is the song’s all-embracing theme. “It crystallizes the whole thing. For every person you read about in your history books, there are untold millions who shape our history whose story goes untold. It’s that simple. And that complex,” Miranda said.
“Within the political climate and all the xenophobia that’s persisting within the conversation, it felt like a really unique opportunity to give a voice to the immigrant narrative, and to shine a spotlight on, as the song says, ‘America’s ghost writers’ — a lot of people that make this country great and that we don’t often get to see in mainstream media,” added director of the video, Tomás Whitmore.
For this writer, it’s the opening comment from Brooklyn-based Mixtape DJ, remixer and hip-hop producer, J.Period, that really sums up what I along with every immigrant and every immigrant roots American is facing when they see the rising bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiments flowing from Donald Trump, the GOP and his right wing minions.
“It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants, ‘immigrant’ has somehow become a bad word.”