Monday, August 06, 2007

"My grandparents came here legally...."

...which is real easy to do since there were no immigration laws in those days. Unless you happened to be Chinese.

Brian Donohue of the Newark Star Ledger lays out everything that's wrong with the "my ancestors did it the legal way" talking point in an op-ed that was prominent in Sunday's Patriot News.
There's one problem with the argument. It's utter hogwash.

First of all, for hundreds of years, as immigrants poured in by the hundreds of thousands from the 1600s to the early 1900s, there were simply no federal immigration laws to break.

Unless you were a criminal or insane (or after 1882, Chinese), once you landed here, you were legal.

Crediting yesteryear's immigrants with following the laws is like calling someone a good driver because they never got caught speeding on the Autobahn.

"Only 1 percent of people who showed up at Ellis Island were turned away," said Mae Ngai, author of "Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America."

"What that statement is ignorant of is that we didn't always have restrictions. It's a fairly recent phenomenon."

Level the playing field hypothetically, and the argument becomes even more preposterous.

Imagine today's immigration laws, which make it impossible for most poor foreign farmers to immigrate legally, in effect in, say, 1849.

Somewhere in Ireland, a starving farmer turns to his family, their mouths green from eating grass in the midst of the potato famine.

"We could escape to America and have food to eat," the farmer says. "But I'd never do that without a visa. That would be a violation of U.S. immigration law."

Ridiculous, of course. That farmer would have done exactly what today's Mexicans, Chinese and Guatemalans are doing by the millions — get to the United States so they can feed their families, and worry about getting papers later.

I love it when others say these things so that we don't have to.

Andy in Harrisburg

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

Oh crap!

How long now before Hazleton passes a "No Irish" ordinance?

I bet Mayor Barletta is already wringing his hands over the safety of his legal citizens' lawns...

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world has an overpopulation problem. There are tens of millions living all over the world under far worse conditions than the recent hord of illegal immigrants. This country does not have the capacity to handle but a fraction of those who would come here. However, Americans have the right to control who is permitted and under what conditions they enter their country. Once that control is surrendered through amnesty after amnesty, we will be faced with the overpopulation problems that are rampant throughout the third world. Without immigration control, we too could become a third world nation. Andy, this is not the past, when we had an underpopulated nation that could absorb mass migration without overtaxing our natural resources or destroy our quality of life by overcrowding.

Times change and the past becomes slowly irrelevent. With the maturation of our nation there came the need to make rules and regulations covering zoning, automobiles, and immigration. Furthermore, with maturity came the need to manage the skills and educational requirements for candidate citizens in order to match our nation's needs. We had to become more selective of who we'd admit for citizenship. Our country went from an agrarian economy to an industrial one, to a nation that values skills and education over manual labor. Morover, external threats evolved and we developed immigration laws that prevented criminal elements, political fanatics, terrorists, those who would spread contagious disease of epidemic proportions and those who would take advantage of our welfare programs or become dependent on the taxpayer in other ways. Whether our great great grandfathers were legal or not is irrelevent, as the needs of this nation have clearly changed and our laws have changed accordingly.

Although there were few regulations covering immigration in the early part of our nation, our ancesters were on their own when they landed, and none relied upon the public welfare, as we had no such programs at the time. This is not the case today. This is the current fear of most opponents of illegal immigration of millions of ill educated poor for whom it would be impossible to avoid without public support. There are more than 60 welfare type benefit programs that didn't exist in the past, but will no doubt evetually be offered to the subsistent level amnestied alien.

Immigration has had it's drawbacks. It's not anywhere near as romantic as Andy and the ACLU would have you believe. If Andy would study the history of he Irish immigration, he'd know that the corrupt Irish political bosses in New York actually promoted immigration and exploited immigrants to put themselves in power and keep them there. And they did it through violence and extortion. The Iris mafia, with the support of ordinary Irish was entrenched in New York City political circles until well into this century. I'm Irish but I'm mature enough to face this truth. That situation is not unlike today, where we are faced with an overwhelming invasion of illegal immigrants supported by La Raza, a corrupt political organization interested in furthering Hispanic power by way of amnesty. The ACLU is their tool to accomplish this.

Andy, thinking people do not hate illegal aliens, because they recognize that these people are doing what they believe is right for them. However, many of these thinking Americans are coming to loathe those who would betray this nation to the extreme economic downside of adopting millions of poor.

Andy Pandy makes light of our immigration laws, and for this I am glad he has little more influence than that of a office boy toady for the ACLU.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Keanus said...

Anonymous, your posting included some nice history. Yes, the situation today differs a bit from what obtained before 20th century immigration laws. But some of the same generalities, that Andy has so ably explained, do apply. And I was ready to even give you the benefit of the doubt—until you closed with the adolescent snit at "Andy Pandy...the office boy toady." With that comment, I for one, and I suspect most others, quickly dismissed anything you said as being of value. You are clearly not ready for serious discussion of the issue and its complexity. You're much happier with slogans, insults and xenophobic clichés. That's sad when you have the potential to contribute to the discussion.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Adolf said...

No, no, I think anonymous has a point. Time rolls on, and the past becomes irrelevant. Who cares what the United States was founded on? Who cares about the Constitution?

I saw we throw out the Constitution and our National ethics, and live under reactionary laws for the latest faux-crisis du jour. Screw the Enlightenment! Screw inalienable rights!

The country's full, we've hit quota. Close the borders down. If you weren't an American at noon today, you never will be! People burning the flag? Some folks in power don't like that -- arrest them! Lock them up! While we're at it, let's ditch free speech and silence those who aid the terrorists. Terrorism is a big problem - so let's outlaw religion too, because most terrorists are driven by religion. In fact, let's make it so the only ideology legally allowed to be espoused is one approved by the government.

English the only language! Mandatory military service!

While we're at it, why deport all these illegal aliens when we can reap the benefit? There must be some kind of camps we can send them all to, where they can do work for us. There's no legal objection - I mean, they're illegal, right? They bring crime and disease into our otherwise peaceful country, and they use our tax money without contributing anything back. This is just punishment!

We'll give them enough food and medical care to survive, and we'll mark them in some way so that we can make sure they don't escape and hide in society - maybe some kind of a tattoo, let's say on the forearm. Then our country will be free of crime, all social ills will be remedied, and we will be perfect examples of the free world - American Supermen!

This sounds great. Why didn't we think of this YEARS ago?

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, so, sad. Adolf has gone off the deep end with his rants.

7:25 PM  

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