Friday, November 18, 2016
Ignorance Masquerading as Cream!
Since Donald Trump was announced the winner of the 2016 election, every T.V station, newspaper, and most radio stations have attempted to provide reasons for this outcome. I would suggest, that these anti-Trump pundits take a deep breath and step back and let the duly elected President proceed with putting together his cabinet and then giving him time to put his campaign promises into action.
As a historian, yes that is what I am. I have spent over 50 years of my life studying American history and government and trying to impart to my students an understanding of how our democratic Republic works. What has shocked me the most is the comments being made by college students who are demonstrating against the legally elected president, Donald Trump. When asked by reporters why they are demonstrating, their first response deals with the issue of immigration. They really believe that Trump will kick out of the United States millions of illegal aliens. These students demonstrate an intellectual laziness and display a mob mentality about this issue. When asked for specifics about their views they just babble about open borders and are horrified that the illegal immigrants will be deported en masse and define closing our borders to illegal migration as racist is absurd. In addition, many of these protesters did not vote in this election.
Let's examine the basics of the immigration problem. A basic assumption is the fact that a nation is defined by its borders. The international community accepts this premise. Over the years they also have accepted the idea of the “ten-mile” limit which extends a nation's physical border into surrounding oceans. More recently, air space has been added to this mix of ownership. Over the centuries borders have been redrawn because of land purchases but mostly by treaties worked out when wars were concluded. To the victors belong the spoils. This was clearly evident after World Wars I and II. In the post-WWII era, the spirit of nationalism also contributed to the birth of new nations with clearly defined borders.
If you examine the history of immigration into the United States, it becomes clear that each wave of immigration was connected to events occurring outside of the United States. We teach our students that the underlying factors for much of the population shift from Europe to the United States was a desire for religious, social, and political freedom. They rightly viewed America as the land of opportunity.
Horace Greely said in 1851, “Go West Young Man, Go West.” The American West was wide open. Free or inexpensive land was available to all. Land sales was a source of great income to the government. These new farmers would provide the food necessary to feed the growing population and the pick and shovel jobs necessary for the expansion of our industrial cities.
The discovery of gold in California in 1849 opened the flood gates for massive immigration. This was an opportunity to strike it rich and immigrants would not be denied. The building of the intercontinental railroad system was in full throttle after the Civil War. Railroad companies were given large tracts of land to build the system. To help finance the project, railroad companies divided the sections of land on either side of the railway system. The railroad companies divided this land into sections and sold it off to those immigrants who purchased the land. They even went as far as advertising the sale of cheap land in European newspapers and provide free steerage for those who wanted a fresh start. Thousands of Germans fled their native country to escape wars and the conscription laws that forced German youth into the military. The Germans were wealthy and headed for the upper mid –west. The potato famine in Ireland along with English land enclosure laws drove thousands of Irish to the shores of America.
Thousands of Chinese males crossed the Pacific to take advantage of the gold rush in California. When the gold fields became unproductive, most of the Chinese workers along with the Irish were hired to build the trans-Pacific railroad.
Japan was suffering from overpopulation and the government encouraged their citizens to emigrate to the United States. Both the Japanese and Chinese suffered from racial discrimination. They looked different, they did not speak English, their customs (food, religion, lifestyle) were in stark contrast to the majority population. In spite of all the prejudice this group had to endure, they prospered economically, sadly the racial discrimination issues lingered for many decades.
At the end of the 19th century, the government declared that all free land had been occupied. Coupled with the expansion of American industrial growth, American foreign policy makers were looking overseas, especially Asia, to expand the markets for American manufactured goods.
Xenophobia and industrial racism began to raise its ugly head during this period of American growth. Originating in California, and then supported by many members of Congress, an anti-Asian sentiment began to grow. “Yellow Peril” legislation to limit or end Chinese immigration, and designed to restrict Chinese women into the U.S. In addition, the U.S. adopted a policy with Japan, known as the “Gentlemen’s Agreement.” The United States wanted zero Japanese immigration into the U.S. Thus, the Japanese government encouraged their citizens to move to Hawaii as an alternative. This explains why Hawaii has such a large Japanese population. The Japanese are a proud people and felt that the American immigration policy was an insult to their nation. They have very long memories. This explains one of the underlying reasons for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
The goal of American labor unions was to force the corporate giants to pay decent wages for factory workers. Strikes were basically illegal and if union workers walked off their jobs, there were hundreds of newly arrived immigrants willing to take their place. With their ranks growing, and with it political power, the unions began to push Congress to pass restrictive immigration laws to protect their jobs.
For an understanding of contemporary immigration concerns it must be noted that at the end of the 19th Century, the United States did not have any restrictive immigration laws in place. The first major action dealing with immigration restrictions was the Chinese Exclusion Act. This was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States. It was repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943. The reason for the repeal was obvious. China was an American ally in WWII, How could the U.S. have a law on the books that denies the leaders of China from entering the country.
After WWI, the U.S. began to pass restrictive laws against European immigration. These were known as the Quota Acts. It was designed to shrink the number of applicants for immigration to the U.S. from Eastern European nations. Legal immigration was based on a quota tied to the number of people from different European nations already residing in the U.S. It must be noted that those who applied to enter the U.S. entered legally through Ellis Island and were vetted for diseases and they had to have a sponsor that would see to their needs so that these new arrivals would not become a burden on the state. In addition to these changes, the government reflected on the fact that they had a growing European population and so they changed the rules to make it more difficult for Europeans to enter the U.S. and lowered the immigration quotas to allow more Mexican, Central and South American immigration into the U.S.
All of these immigrants were admittedly legally. They applied and were admitted according to the current law. That is the way it has always been done. People respected the sanctity of national laws and if you wanted to enter the nation you applied for admission. During and after WWII, the United States lowered these restrictions to allow refugees from war zones to enter the U.S. However, all of these immigrants were vetted. The U.S. also made provision for Cuban political refugees to enter the U.S.
The Constitution states that if a person is born in the U.S. then they automatically have U.S. citizenship. This provision was put into place to afford former slaves citizenship since these former slaves did not have a homeland to be returned to. In fact, former slaves wanted to remain in America.
I am not unsympathetic to the fact that many thousands of people live in nations south of the border where there is little or no economic opportunity. Where the drug cartels are causing havoc on a daily basis. I can understand what motivates these people to try their hardest to enter the U.S. However, we are a nation of laws and the laws cannot be cherry picked to allow exceptions to the rule. There is no question that the Democrats encouraged this illegal immigration into the U.S. They look at this pool of illegal’s as a potential voting bloc to keep their party in power. I am sure that the parents of children that were born in the U.S. will not be expelled under the Trump administration. What Trump wants to do is to deport illegal aliens that are criminals. What the Trump administration wants to do is have any person, regardless of national origin apply and enter this country legally.
Illegal immigration is having and will have in the future an enormous impact on the health and welfare of Americans. Diseases that had been eradicated are beginning to be found in areas in which illegals are concentrated. The cost of providing schooling, medical care and welfare services for these illegals is growing by leaps and bounds. American taxpayers are footing the bill for these services. It just is not fair to our struggling middle-class to be burdened with this cost.
We have not addressed the issue that there is a steady flow of potential terrorists that are also crossing our unguarded southern borders. This is an issue that must be addressed by the Trump administration.
Historically American immigration policies have been the most generous and fair. Our policies have, in the most part, lived up to the ideal expressed on the Statue of Liberty. Any student of this subject will admit that unjustified prejudice toward immigrants based on the fact that these immigrants were culturally different than the main stream Americans was unjustified. Much of this resentment was focused on economic issues.
During WWI and WWII many Americans expressed concern over the fact that German-Americans would not support the war effort and not fight against the Axis powers. In fact, no Japanese-Americans ever fought in the Pacific theater of war. Their divisions were sent to the European war zones. Prior to WWII only the rich, famous or well connected had the opportunity to escape the Nazis and were allowed quick entry into the U.S. In 1944, Henry Morgenthau sent a scathing message to President Roosevelt describing the plight of European Jews. Sadly, no effort was made to evacuate those Jews from the Nazi death camps.
The realty of this issue is the fact that the American economy cannot withstand the influx of so many undocumented illegal aliens. This issue is exacerbated by a real fear that terrorists are using our porous southern borders for only one reason, to kill Americans. How wonderful it is for many of those college protestors to demand open borders for all. How warm inside they must feel that they are taking the moral high ground on this issue. They live in the make believe world of academia. These kids are far removed from the world that Willie Nelson described in his song, “That Lucky Old Sun,”
Up in the morning out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
And that lucky old sun
Ain't got nothing to do
But roll around heaven all day
Yes, these demonstrators have nothing to do but protest and in some cases destroy the property of others. I am not against freedom of expression in any form. I am against the process of people immigrating to this nation ILLEGALLY.