Harper's Percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born : 13. Percentage that was foreign-born in 1913 : 15. Change in the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States since 2007 : 900,000
Reagan on amnesty: "I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally." - Ronald Reagan in debate with Walter Mondale, 1984
When was the last time a Mexican cut your pension?
Sam Smith, 2006 - Those wishing to test the extent of the immigrant problem might want to conduct this quick test:
1. Has a Mexican ever fired or laid you off?
2. Has the plant you worked for until it was sent overseas been bought by Mexicans or is it still owned by the same people you used to work for?
3. Has a Mexican ever cut your pension or health benefits? Outsourced your job to India?
4. How much does Latin America contribute to global warming and its results - such as bigger hurricanes and more tornadoes - compared with the United States?
5. Was Enron run by Mexicans?
6. Are Mexicans responsible for NSA's spying you?
7. Do you think Mexicans or the pharmaceutical corporations are more responsible for high drug costs?
8. How much of the corruption in Washington has been instigated by the Mexicans?
9. Did the Mexicans' make us invade Iraq?
10. Are the Mexicans responsible for George Bush being so dumb?
Chances are most your answers will be in the negative which is a clue to stop spending so much time worrying about immigration and turn your attention to something else.
Living "Illegally" In this probing investigation, a team of scholars in political science, religion, and Latin American studies offers a considered account of the complex global dynamics that shape immigration in America. The authors track the oscillations in U.S. immigration policy, from the open borders of the country's early history through the rising tide of nativism in the early 20th century and the growing restrictiveness of immigration policy over the past 20 years. - Publishers Weekly
The United States already allows a significant amount
of legal immigration from Mexico under the guest-worker
program1.6 million entries by legal immigrants and 3.9
million by temporary workers from Mexico over the last 10 yearsbecause
farmers cant find enough native-born Americans to pick
@Harpers - Percentage change in the number of immigrants entering the United States illegally between 2006 and 2011: -73
75% of Americans say legalizing undocumented immigrants will help the economy
@amprog - Almost 1 in 5 small U.S. businesses is owned by an immigrant.
Nearly two-thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in this country for at least 10 years and nearly half are parents of minor children, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Louis E.V. Nevaer, New American Media For a generation, Mexican intellectuals have pondered the possibility of a "Greater Mexico" - the idea that Mexican immigration to the United States was so persistent and sustainable, that Mexican culture could "re-settle" lands lost to the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican American War. Americans, clinging to the belief of a "melting pot," dismissed that notion, arguing that Mexican immigrants would follow historical norms and assimilate into mainstream American life, as previous generations of newcomers did before them.
A new study by the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, part of Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Relations, offers insight that answers this lingering question. As Carlos González y Gutierrez, IME's director, told Notimex, "To our surprise and unease, we realize that Greater Mexico isn't on the other side of the moon, but that more and more it looks like us, and that has many consequences. The principle one is that this new situation reflects, to a good degree, our divisions of class, background, language, ethnicity and educational attainment."
In other words, there is a "perfect
storm" in which middle class ambition, immigration and higher
birth rates among Hispanics, is changing the face of Mexicans
in the United States. Whereas in the past the bulk of Mexicans
entering the United States has come from the economically marginalized
- rural farmers, urban poor, under-educated and unemployed -
as part of NAFTA's unintended consequences, Mexican middle class
professionals are now establishing themselves on both sides of
the border. Hundreds of thousands of non-indigenous Mexicans,
meaning Mexicans who are Caucasian and of European descent, are
migrating to the United States; the idea of a "Greater Mexico"
is becoming a reality.
IMMIGRATION: WHAT ARE WE REALLY WORRIED ABOUT?
Best estimates of unsanctioned immigration to this country puts the total at 3-4% of the total American population, or roughly twice as many people as support Mike Gravel, who can't even get into the presidential debates, let alone become a major topic of them.
While it is clear that immigrants are being used by conservatives as a target to deflect criticism from themselves - much as southern whites used blacks in the days of segregation - it is possible that something else is happening as well.
What if large number of Americans are afraid - consciously or not - of something that their leaders, most environmentalists and the media won't discuss at all: the real consequences of population growth? Immigrants make an easy substitute for dealing directly with this issue for in the end they commit only one real sin other than not following regulations: adding to the competition for human existence by an ever increasing population.
Ten years ago, I wrote about it this way:
|||| We know it took about four million years for humans to populate the earth with its first billion humans. It took just a hundred years for the second billion. Thirty-five years for the third. Fifteen years for the fourth and twelve for the fifth.
The world is growing by 10,800 people an hour, adding the equivalent of a city the size of Newark, NJ every day
Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, counselor of the Wilderness Society, has a good way of describing it. At the current rate of growth, he says, the population of the United States will double in 63 years. So at some point around the middle of the next century, we are likely to have (or need) twice as much of everything we have now. Twice as many cars, trucks, planes, airports, parking lots, streets, bridges, tunnels, freeways, houses, apartment buildings, grade schools, high schools, colleges, trade schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons.
Imagine your city or town as it would look with twice as much of everything. And, oh yes, don't forget to add twice as much farmland, water and food if you can find it. And twice as many chemicals and other pollutants in the air and water, twice as much heat radiation from all the new construction, twice as much crime, twice as many fires, twice as big traffic jams and twice as many walls with graffiti on them.
Not that everyone accepts this scenario. There are those who think we can, with the help of science and technology, feed tens of billions more people. Some of them are scientists who admit that life will be degraded but think it still physically possible. Some are Roman Catholic bishops who said a few years ago that the earth could support 40 billion people.
Some are the voices of industry or in think tanks. Their argument is based on the economic notion that growth is an unmitigated virtue and that anything opposed to growth is wrong. And many of them are economists who, as Amory Lovins has said, "are people who lie awake nights worrying about whether what actually works in the world could conceivably work in theory."
Gaylord Nelson suggests some questions for them: "Do the unlimited growth folks really believe that the more crowded the planet becomes, the freer and richer we will be? Do they think a finite planet with finite resources can sustain infinite economic expansion and population growth? If not, where do they draw the line? They don't say." ||||
The number of foreign born - legal or not - now comprise the same percentage of the population was the case in 1930 and considerably less than between 1860 and 1910. Looking back, those weren't such bad times. Why are American so worried now, even discounting for all the politicians and media George Wallacing the issue?
One answer is that people are really worried
about something they know is happening and no one will talk sensibly
to them about it.
AP - The executive director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism says Oklahoma's new immigration law does little to make the state or country safer from terrorism. "We should remember that the 9/11 terrorists ... all had visas and entered this country legally," Don Hamilton said Wednesday in an interview after speaking to members of the Council of State Governments. . . About half the illegal immigrants in the United States entered legally but overstayed their visas, he said. "If you put death rays on the border with Mexico that were 100 percent effective, you would only have solved less than half of the illegal immigration problem," he said.
WHY THERE ARE FAR BETTER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT THAN IMMIGRATION POLICY
RUSSIL WYONG, CAN POLITICS 1997 - Costs: Direct expenditures consist of (among other things) increases in AFDC and food stamps, SSI, health costs, and prison costs. . . Estimates of tax payer burden range from an annual surplus of $27 billion to a deficit of $40 billion depending on the assumptions made. A "reasonable" estimate of tax accounting provided by (immigration critic George) Borjas shows that immigrants received $23.8 billion in government entitlement and paid $85.4 billion in taxes. This statistic seems to suggest at first glance that immigrants are more than paying their way for welfare benefits. However, as Borjas points out, on average only 8.9 percent of taxes goes towards entitlement programs. Thus, only $7.6 billion of immigrant taxes went on average to entitlements. This results in a $16.2 billion fiscal burden on native taxpayers. Therefore, it is likely that immigrants impose a net burden on native taxpayers on the order of $16 billion annually.
Displacement costs occur when immigration either reduces the wages of native citizens or results in native citizens being laid off or forced to move from the area. The various estimates conclude that the elasticity of the native wage with respect to the number of immigrants is at most -0.1. This implies that a city with 10% more immigration than another will have wages that are 1 percent lower. In other words, a $10.00 per hour wage will fall to $9.90. . . If the number of workers in the US has increased by 10 percent due to immigration, then native wages and salaries fall by 1 percent to 62.37 percent of GDP. In a $7 trillion economy, this works out to just over $44 billion. In an economy the size of the U.S., this effect is small.
The same result is found for unemployment. The great majority of studies conclude that immigrants rarely force a native worker out of a job. The effects are statistically insignificant.
In sum, direct expenditures result in a net loss of $16 billion, and loss of native wages add another $44 billion for a total cost from immigration of $60 billion.
Benefits from immigration include increases in economic welfare, increase in cultural diversity, and increases in the standard of living of immigrants.
A 10 percent rise in immigration lowers native wages by up to 1 percent, or possibly $44 billion per year. However, these wage reductions don't just disappear. To the extent that immigrants provide low-cost labor, either more income accrues to the employers, or cost reductions are passed on to the consumer. Therefore, the host economy benefits by an equal amount that native workers lose from the cheap labor of the immigrants. In other words, the $44 billion is simply redistributed to other people in the economy, and the net effect washes out.
But the gains from the low wages go beyond the $44 billion from lower wages. The goods produced by immigrant workers also generate additional profits for employers because they are able to sell more of their products at the lower price. Borjas estimates this gain to be $7 billion per year.
Increase in cultural diversity: This aspect of life is difficult to quantify but consumers benefit at a minimum by the increase in product diversity (for example, ethnic restaurants, cultural centers in cities, and so on). However, diversity also leads to costs including more crime, ethnic violence, and so on. Since these aspects are so difficult to quantify, we will take the easy way out and simply assume that the positive and negative aspects of diversity cancel each other out.
The economy gains $44 billion is lower costs and/or prices from immigrant labor, and gains $7 billion more on top of that by generating more profits for employers. Thus the total benefits to immigration are on the order of $51 billion annually.
The cost-benefit analysis suggests that the costs ($60 billion) outweigh the benefits ($51 billion) by $9 billion annually. Therefore, current immigration policy is not as efficient as it could be, though the inefficiency is small.
What do we make of all this? First, immigration (legal and illegal) has become more costly in recent times because the number of immigrants has increased, and the relative skills of immigrants have decreased. Therefore, the economic burden of immigration has surely increased in the last two decades. Second, the "stealing of natives' jobs" is mostly a myth and simply does not happen on a large scale.
An important distinction must be made again
between efficiency and equity. We have tentatively concluded
that the costs of immigration outweigh the benefits by $9 billion
annually. From an efficiency point of view, the solution is to
reduce the number of immigrants until the benefits equal the
costs. Another possibility is to only admit the more educated,
wealthier immigrants. This is what some countries such as Canada
has done. This lead to a more "efficient" immigration
policy. But is such a policy fair?
Finally, though the tax payer burden of supporting immigration may be $16 billion annually, this is about one percent of yearly federal tax revenue. Therefore, while immigration may certainly contribute to federal budget deficits, they are not the major source of the fiscal deficits in the US.
USA TODAY - Foreign-born workers make up about 11% of the U.S. population and 14% of the labor force. But their impact is outsized, accounting for more than half of total workforce growth from 1996 to 2002. In the western Midwest, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, foreign-born workers accounted for more than 90% of employment growth from 1996 to 2002. "When employment was growing, we wouldn't have been growing as quickly without immigration," says Pia Orrenius, researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
TPR - Between the 1880s and the 1920s immigrants represented 12-15% of the population. This sank to 5% in the 1960s but has been rising since.
USAT - The immigration agency estimates about 7 million people were in the country illegally in 2000, with the number of illegal immigrants doubling in the 1990s. Recent estimates peg illegal residency at 8 million to 10 million.
Paul Harrington of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, says a study this month found immigrants, legal and illegal, displaced U.S. workers during the past three years, continuing a trend. Harrington argues immigrants are taking jobs from teenagers in particular. . .
His research shows immigrants have revitalized cities that would have otherwise lost population. Despite the changes, nearly two-thirds live in California, New York and Texas. Two-thirds of illegal immigrants come from Mexico. . .
Immigration can hurt state and local governments by increasing demand for education, health care and some social service programs. At the same time, it can help federal budgets as workers pay taxes to shore up such programs as Social Security. . . Immigration could help Social Security, at least in the short term, given the relatively young ages of immigrants and the rapidly aging native population. . . .
The U.S. Chamber's Donohue argues that the U.S. economy is projected to create 22 million jobs by the end of the decade but has a projected workforce growth of only 17 million. . .
DONALD J. BOUDREAUX, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY - Each immigrant comes to America to make himself better off. Suppose government no longer redistributes income to immigrants. . . Absent government welfare payments to immigrants, immigrants who do not seek work burden no one other than family or friends who voluntarily assume this burden. I here ignore such non-working immigrants who receive no government handouts. These immigrants do not raise the ire of anti-immigrationists. Opponents of immigration object most vehemently to immigrants who are eager to work. . .
Productively employed immigrants invariably increase the nation's wealth by intensifying competition and expanding the division of labor. Immigration restrictions, in contrast, reduce economic growth. . .
ANA VINAS, NM STATE U - Researchers and academics from several Texas universities agreed at a conference conducted by Federal Reserves Bank that immigration in the short run costs U.S. taxpayers, but in the long run the effect is beneficial for the country once immigrants start working and paying their taxes.
Immigration effects in the U.S. economy were analyzed by specialists, among them Jeffrey Passel, director for Urban Institute Migration Politics Research; Robert Cushing, academic at University of Texas in Austin; Jorge Santibanez, researcher for Northern Mexico Border College.
Santibanez commented that the big operations implemented at the borders, such as "Gatekeeper" in Tijuana, and "Hold the Line" in El Paso are not the answer to stopping illegal immigration. "They are just a key to control the flows," he added and explained that these operations in urban areas direct the flow of illegal immigrants to the mountains and the deserts. In turn, this causes women and children to stay behind and the ones who successfully make it to the U.S. are young males.
He also said, "The borders are the observatory for the immigration flow." According to the specialists, last year a total of 916,000 legal immigrants, while close to 300,000 came into the United States illegally.
According to George Borjas, public politics professor at Harvard University's School of Government, illegal immigration has a short period cost to each tax paying family in the U.S.--in states such as Texas the cost is about $1,000 per year. "However, in the long run the effect is reversed once the immigrant starts working and paying taxes," said Borjas.
For example, an immigrant without average education will cost the state about $13,000 per year; however, one who has at least two years of college education generates $198,000 in taxes over his lifetime. . .
ROGER LOWENSTEIN, NY TIMES 2006 - Borjas's seemingly self-evident premise - that more job seekers from abroad mean fewer opportunities, or lower wages, for native workers - is one of the most controversial ideas in labor economics. . .
Easily the most influential of Borjas's critics is David Card, a Canadian who teaches at Berkeley. He has said repeatedly that, from an economic standpoint, immigration is no big deal and that a lot of the opposition to it is most likely social or cultural. "If Mexicans were taller and whiter, it would probably be a lot easier to deal with," he says pointedly.
Economists in Card's camp tend to frame the issue as a puzzle - a great economic mystery because of its very success. The puzzle is this: how is the U.S. able to absorb its immigrants so easily?
After all, 21 million immigrants, about 15 percent of the labor force, hold jobs in the U.S., but the country has nothing close to that many unemployed. (The actual number is only seven million.) So the majority of immigrants can't literally have "taken" jobs; they must be doing jobs that wouldn't have existed had the immigrants not been here. . .
It baffles some economists that Congress pays so little heed to their research, but then immigration policy has never been based on economics. Economic fears played a part in the passage of the exclusionary acts against Chinese in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and in the 1920's of quotas (aimed in particular at people from southern and eastern Europe), but they were mostly fueled by xenophobia. They were supplanted in the Civil Rights era by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended quotas and established a new priority based on family reunification. . .
With the exception of a few border states, the effect of immigration on public-sector budgets is small, and the notion that undocumented workers in particular abuse the system is a canard. Since many illegals pay into Social Security (using false ID numbers), they are actually subsidizing the U.S. Treasury. And fewer than 3 percent of immigrants of any stripe receive food stamps. Also, and contrary to popular wisdom, undocumented people do support local school districts, since, indirectly as renters or directly as homeowners, they pay property taxes. Since they tend to be poor, however, they contribute less than the average. One estimate is that immigrants raise state and local taxes for everyone else in the U.S. by a trivial amount in most states, but by as much as $1,100 per household per year in California. They are certainly a burden on hospitals and jails but, it should be noted, poor legal workers, including those who are native born, are also a burden on the health care system. . .
Americans who are unskilled must compete with a disproportionate number of immigrants. One of every four high-school dropouts in the U.S. was born in Mexico, an astonishing ratio given that the proportion of Mexicans in the overall labor force is only 1 in 25. . . .
But economists have had a hard time finding evidence of actual harm. For starters, they noticed that societies with lots of immigrants tend, if anything, to be more prosperous, not less. In the U.S., wages in cities where immigrants have clustered, like New York, have tended to be higher, not lower. Mississippi, on the other hand, which has the lowest per-capita income of any state, has had very few immigrants.
That doesn't necessarily mean that immigrants caused or even contributed to high wages; it could be they simply go where the demand is greatest - that their presence is an effect of high wages. . .
Card decided to study the 1980 Mariel boat lift, in which 125,000 Cubans were suddenly permitted to emigrate. They arrived in South Florida with virtually no advance notice, and approximately half remained in the Miami area, joining an already-sizable Cuban community and swelling the city's labor force by 7 percent.
To Card, this produced a "natural experiment," one in which cause and effect were clearly delineated. Nothing about conditions in the Miami labor market had induced the Marielitos to emigrate; the Cubans simply left when they could and settled in the city that was closest and most familiar. So Card compared the aftershocks in Miami with the labor markets in four cities - Tampa, Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles - that hadn't suddenly been injected with immigrants.
That the Marielitos, a small fraction of whom were career criminals, caused an upsurge in crime, as well as a more generalized anxiety among natives, is indisputable. It was also commonly assumed that the Marielitos were taking jobs from blacks.
But Card documented that blacks, and also other workers, in Miami actually did better than in the control cities. In 1981, the year after the boat lift, wages for Miami blacks were fractionally higher than in 1979; in the control cities, wages for blacks were down. The only negative was that unemployment rose among Cubans (a group that now included the Marielitos).
Unemployment in all of the cities rose the following year, as the country entered a recession. But by 1985, the last year of Card's study, black unemployment in Miami had retreated to below its level of 1979, while in the control cities it remained much higher. Even among Miami's Cubans, unemployment returned to pre-Mariel levels, confirming what seemed visible to the naked eye: the Marielitos were working. Card concluded, "The Mariel influx appears to have had virtually no effect on the wages or unemployment rates of less-skilled workers.". . .
PROGRESSIVE POPULIST, 2006 - It is no accident that an estimated 11 to 12 million people have come into the US in search of a better life in the 20 years since the last immigration reform, during the Reagan administration. That migration accelerated with the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.
Ross Perot predicted in 1993 that as manufacturing in northern Mexico expanded, hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers would be drawn north. "They will quickly find that wages in the Mexican maquiladora plants cannot compete with wages anywhere in the US. Out of economic necessity, many of these mobile workers will consider illegally immigrating into the US," Perot wrote. . .
Roger Bybee and Carolyn Winter noted in the [Progressive Populist] that the movement of US agribusiness into Mexico has pushed more than 2 million Mexicans off the farms and into the cities, looking for jobs. Retailers such as Wal-Mart have moved into Mexico, displacing an estimated 28,000 small and medium-sized Mexican businesses. And Mexican factory wages actually have fallen, as multinational firms force them to compete even cheaper manufacturing costs in China and other lower-cost nations.
The US economy largely absorbed those immigrants through the boom years of the 1990s. Even with the Bush recession after 2001, their presence was little noted outside service industries, building trades and meat-cutting industry, where immigrants were employed to keep down the pressure for higher wages. But this year Republicans were looking for an issue that could excite working-class whites, since it was apparent that tax cuts for the rich weren¹t doing anything for them.
WARREN HOGE, NY TIMES - Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the rapid growth in global migration should help, not harm, all countries but that broad international cooperation would be necessary to ensure it. "We now understand better than ever before that migration is not a zero-sum game," Mr. Annan said. "In the best cases, it benefits the receiving country, the country of origin and migrants themselves.". . .
From 1990 to 2005, the numbers of migrants in the world rose to 191 million from 155 million, the report said. It estimated that migrants sent $232 billion home in 2005. Of that, $167 billion went to developing countries, Mr. Annan said. The report said that migration sometimes reduced the wages of low-skilled workers in advanced economies, but that it more often freed citizens to perform high-paying jobs.
Listing demographic statistics that will make a continued rise in migration inevitable, the report said that in developed countries there is an average of 142 young entrants to the labor force for every 100 people about to retire, but that in 10 years, the ratio will be 87 young entrants for every 100 who leave the labor force. This trend, it argued, creates a deficit that only migrants can close. At the same time, developing countries will have 342 candidates for every 100 jobs that open up.
PATRICE HILL, WASHINGTON TIMES - Immigrant labor -- both legal and illegal -- has been an important force propelling U.S. economic growth for years. Growth in the native population has been in decline since the 1970s, so immigrant workers have filled in, providing half of the growth in the U.S. labor force since 1990. . .
While the role of immigrants in the U.S. economy already is substantial, it promises to be even more important in the future as baby boomers retire and the number of American workers shrinks more rapidly. "Immigration will be vital for long-run economic growth in the United States," said Augustine Faucher, analyst with Economy.com. He estimates that average yearly economic growth will fall to about 2 percent in the next 30 years from 3 percent today -- even with a continued flow of about 800,000 new legal and illegal immigrant workers a year -- because of retirements. . .
Periods of high immigration have been associated with periods of high economic growth in the United States. Most recently, during the late 1990s, when immigration surged to a peak of 1.5 million new entrants a year, economic growth picked up to more than 4 percent a year and the unemployment rate fell to below 4 percent, the lowest level in a generation.
By contrast, when immigration dropped dramatically after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to about 1 million a year, economic growth stagnated and the job market sank into a recession and sluggish recovery. The jobs recession finally receded in 2004 -- about the time that immigration picked up again to 1.2 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. . .
To prevent the economy from overheating, the Fed has raised interest rates almost four percentage points since 2004, citing concerns that inflation will pick up if not enough workers are available to fill jobs, driving up the cost of wages and benefits and ultimately the prices consumers pay.
Worker shortages already are apparent or projected in key areas that have attracted immigrants, including construction, restaurants, hotels, nursing and home care. Technology and life-sciences businesses that depend on foreign workers to fill key technical jobs also are reporting trouble finding workers, in part because of the tough new restrictions and delays imposed on legal immigration after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
WHO'S AN AMERICAN?
1600s Most of various tribes scattered throughout the continent didn't know whether they were Americans as there was no one to tell them
1774 Continental Congress leaves it to each state to decide who shall be a voting citizen
1776 Full citizenship to white male property owners, with six states granting it to all white males whether they had property or not. Some states had higher property qualifications than others and some even required membership in a specified religion.
1781-89 Articles of Confederation accept in principle that the central government should regulate Indian affairs.
1789 Secretary of War is placed in charge of Indians
1790 Naturalization of foreign 'free white persons' permitted. Women carried the legal status of their husbands.
1795 Naturalization denied free whites unwilling to give up foreign titles of nobility
1812-21 Six western states join the union with full white male suffrage. Four of the original states abolish property requirements
1830 Indian Removal Act passes Congress, calling for relocation of eastern Indians to a territory west of the Mississippi River. Cherokees contest it in court, and in 1832, the Supreme Court decides in their favor, but Andrew Jackson ignores the decision. From 1831-39, the Five Civilized tribes of the Southeast are relocated to the Indian Territory. The Cherokee "Trail of Tears" takes place in 1838-39.
1853-56 United States acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands through 52 treaties, all of which it will subsequently break.
1856 North Carolina becomes the last state to abolish the property requirement. Previous barred Catholics and non-Christians are enfranchised and in a few states even immigrants not yet naturalized are allowed to vote.
1857 Under Dred Scott decision, no black person can be a U.S. citizen.
1858 Stephen Douglas debates Abraham Lincoln, arguing that "I believe the government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity for ever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men. . . instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races." Lincoln disagrees.
1866 Civil Rights Act declares all persons born in the U.S. - except Indians - to be natural citizens
1869 Territory of Wyoming grants women suffrage in state elections
1870 15th Amendment is passed: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." South deals with the amendment by instituting polls taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses that limit the vote to the offspring of the formerly enfranchised. Naturalization of black immigrants (but not Asians) is permitted.
1871 Residents of the District of Columbia lose the right to vote for mayor and city council as a territorial form of government with appointed governor is installed
1871 - General Sheridan issues orders forbidding western Indians to leave reservations without permission of civilian agents.
1874 Supreme Court rules that it is not unconstitutional to deny women the right to vote.
1875 Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and "Mongolian" prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers
1878 Chinese are ruled not eligible for naturalized citizenship
1882 Chinese Exclusion Law suspends immigration of laborers for ten years. Late 19th century exclusion from naturalization includes prostitutes, convicted felons, lunatics, polygamists and persons likely to be a 'public charge' Early 20th century exclusion from naturalization includes anarchists, communists, and the illiterate.
1902 Chinese exclusion is extended for another ten years.
1904 Chinese exclusion is made indefinite
1915 Eleven states have given women the right to vote
1918 Servicemen of Asian ancestry who served in World War I receive right of naturalization
1919 American Indian soldiers and sailors receive citizenship.
1920 The 20th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, is ratified
1923 Asian Indians ruled not eligible for naturalized citizenship.
1924 Congress gives the right to vote to original Americans, the Indians.
1940 Congress passes Nationalities Act granting citizenship to all Native Americans without diluting tribal authority.
1941 After declaring war on Japan, 10,000 Japanese-Americans along Pacific Coast states and Hawaii are rounded up and interned in Department of Justice camps.
1943 The Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed. The annual immigration quota for Chinese is set at 105.
1945 The War Brides Act permits immigration of Asian spouses and children of American servicemen in the war.
1946 Luce-Celler bill grants right of naturalization and small immigration quotas to Asian Indians and Filipinos
1949 5000 highly educated Chinese in the U.S. granted refugee status after China institutes a Communist government.
1952 One clause of the McCarran-Walter Act grants the right of naturalization and a small immigration quota to Japanese.
1957 Utah becomes the last state to permit Indians to vote
1965 Immigration Law abolishes "national origins" as basis for allocating immigration quotas to various countries - Asian countries now on equal footing.
1974 Residents of the District of Columbia regain the right to vote for mayor and city council lost over a century earlier but still lack voting representation in Congress or real power over their budget and criminal justice system.
IMMIGRANTS SHOVED INTO INHUMAN CONDITIONS TO AID PRISON INDUSTRY PROFITS
UTNE - According to Deepa Fernandes of Corp Watch, immigrants are the fastest growing prison population in the United States today, with courts processing 350,000 immigrants in fiscal year 2005. Those numbers translate to dollar signs for a prison industry that only six years ago was wallowing in a $1 billion debt. But that, Fernandes reports, was before a post-9/11 border crackdown, and before the "government began to target non-citizens with mass arrests during sweeps through immigrant communities."
Now the increase in detainees is winning the prison industry contracts to build new prisons to house them. And the influx of incarcerated immigrants has the added business value of providing prisons with a cheap labor force; since the Department of Homeland Security restricts non-citizen prisoners from earning more than a $1 a day, the prisons get maintenance workers and janitors for a pittance. "The war on drugs has conveniently become a war on immigrants," Tucson attorney and human rights activist Isabel García told CorpWatch, "and there is a lot of money to be made in detaining immigrants."
Beyond the staggering numbers of incarcerated immigrants are the equally alarming imprisonment conditions. Take, for example, the "tent city" that has been constructed in Raymondville, Texas, to house 2,000 detained immigrants. Within the confines of the windowless tents, detainees incur a 23-hour-a-day lock down, and, as Corp Watch notes (citing a recent Washington Post article), immigrants are "often with insufficient food, clothing, medical care, and access to telephones." Immigrant detainees can be held for months, even years, and, as Democracy Now! reports, many are denied legal assistance.
AMERICA THE CRUEL: THE ICE RAIDS
RICH STOLZ, NEW AMERICA MEDIA - In a matter of hours, more than 1,000 federal agents arrested a total of 1,282 workers across the country, brutally disrupting the daily life of hundreds of families, the economies of their communities and Swift & Company's business operations.
Hundreds of families in communities like Greeley, Colorado and Marshalltown, Iowa endured the holiday season without their loved ones, not knowing where their relatives were being taken and fearing for the safety and future of family members who were driven away in small fleets of white Department of Homeland Security buses. . .
Those detained are now rapidly going through a nightmarish and expanding immigrant detention system. Civil rights advocates have raised serious concerns about the denial of basic due process, fair trials and appeals processes. They also questioned expedited removal processes that separate families with no concern for the consequences on loved ones that are left behind.
IMMIGRANTS AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT
RUTH MILKMAN BOSTON REVIEW - The late-20th-century transformation of work through de-unionization and restructuring, as well as the influx of immigrants into low-wage employment, were national and global rather than local or regional developments. . . Contrary to the claims of some commentators that the influx of impoverished immigrants precipitated the deterioration of wages, benefits, and working conditions in service, construction, and other blue-collar jobs, the timing suggests that the causality runs in the opposite direction: immigrants were hired mainly in the years after the jobs in question had been degraded by de-unionization and restructuring. The details vary by industry, but employers' vigorous efforts to de-unionize workplaces in the 1970s and 1980s led native-born workers to abandon jobs as unions were weakened, wages declined and benefits and job security evaporated. Only then did immigrants move into the now-vacant positions. And soon afterward, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the foreign-born work force proved to be a key factor facilitating union renewal in the region.
Unions have not always been pessimistic about immigrants - in fact, they have relied on them for leadership and growth throughout U.S. history. During its formative years, organized labor's growth was predicated largely on recruiting immigrants and their offspring, who made up a huge proportion of the working class in the urban and industrial regions of the country that were the primary sites of union-building. In the New Deal years, ironically, U.S. labor leaders were disproportionately foreign-born themselves, even when anti-immigrant sentiments within the unions were at their height. . .
But this history had been largely obliterated from public memory by the 1970s and 1980s, when mass immigration resumed. . .
However, by the late 1980s, as more and more organizers began to grasp the potential for immigrant unionization, the once conventional wisdom about "unorganizability" began to dissolve. Indeed, in Los Angeles, and sometimes elsewhere as well, unionists were increasingly persuaded that foreign-born workers were actually far easier to recruit than natives, and by the 1990s that revisionist view would be widely echoed in public commentary as well as inside the labor movement. . .
Moreover, national data suggest that Latinos have more positive attitudes toward unionization than most other ethnic groups. In the 1994 national Worker Representation and Participation Survey, for example, 51 percent of Latino respondents nationwide (regardless of nativity) who were not union members indicated that they would vote for a union if a representation election were held in their workplaces, compared to 35 percent of non-Latinos. The figures were similar for Asian-American respondents, 49 percent of whom said they would vote for a union, compared to 35 percent of non-Asians. African-American respondents expressed even stronger support for unionism, with 64 percent indicating that they would vote for a union, compared to 32 percent of non-African-American respondents. Although Latinos are not quite as pro-union as African-Americans, both groups are consistently more positive toward unionism than whites.
EIGHT CITIES DECLARE THEMSELVES IMMIGRANT SANCTUARIES
UPI - The mayor of a suburban San Diego city says he wants to turn his city into a "sanctuary city" for undocumented immigrants. National City Mayor Nick Inzunza said the designation would forbid all city employees and law enforcement officers from inquiring into a person's immigration status and from enforcing federal immigration laws. The proposal has raised the ire of City Council members, who said they were surprised Inzunza made the announcement in a National Public Radio interview last week, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. "Doing this sanctuary thing, to me that just sounds like a lot of fluff," said Councilman Ron Morrison. "What are we, Berkeley?" Berkeley actually is not among a growing number of cities in California that have declared themselves sanctuary cities. Others include Maywood, Pomona, Huntington Park and Coachella. Outside the state, El Paso, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; Portland, Maine; and Cambridge, Mass., have declared themselves sanctuary cities.
THE ECONOMIC ROOTS OF BORDER PROBLEMS
PATRICK OSIO, JR, HISPANIC VISTA - - The roots of most political problems exist where there is an economic disparity between the two divided nations. The greater the disparity, the greater the political problem. Thus when the problems are not cultural or language, rather economic disparity, it makes little difference what the names or world locations of neighboring countries. So North Korea is to China what Mexico is to the US; Lesotho is to South Africa what Mexico is to the US; Guatemala is to Mexico what Mexico is to the US, and on it goes.
When there is no economic disparity, the political problems between countries are mostly based on historical issues, commercial rivalries and in modern times, environmental issues. . . The economic disparity between the peoples of Canada and the US is of little consequence thus the political problems based on the border as a dividing line were, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attack, for the most part non existent, though there are Canadians living and working illegally in the US. . .
Along the US-Mexico border the situations is dramatically different. . . Unskilled or semi-skilled factory workers in the US earn $11.30 an hour; in Mexico $1.13. A US skilled factory worker earns $16.90 an hour; in Mexico $2.79. An office building janitor in the US earns $9.37 an hour; in Mexico $0.87. A US store clerk earns $8.91 an hour; in Mexico $1.67. A US plumber earns $26.97 an hour; in Mexico $2.50.
How long do workers in the above job examples have to work for some basic staples like: half-gallon milk; 10-tortilla pack; 1-lb butter; 1-lb Cheddar cheese; 1.42-liter corn oil; 1-lb potatoes; 1-whole chicken; 1-dozen eggs? The US factory worker: 1-hour 45-minutes - Mexican worker: 9-hours 16-minutes . . .
For millions of Mexicans their earnings, if they have jobs, do not provide sufficient income to provide the basic necessities to support a family, so they cross the political line without official permission in search of economic opportunity, and most find it rather easily. Due to the massive numbers crossing a political problem has been created in the US. The economic disparity in wages coupled with job availability in the US are the root problems of the political problem between the US and Mexico. So what does America, the country made great by immigrants, propose doing to solve the root problems? Build fences and militarizes the border, declare those desperate souls felons, criminalize aiding them in any way, deny their children education, prohibit renting them shelter and classify them as terrorists to ease the American conscience. . .
WARNING: FOREIGN VISITORS NO LONGER SAFE IN U.S.
"Lawyers in the suit. . . said parts of the ruling could potentially be used . . . to detain any non-citizen in the United States for any reason."
NINA BERNSTEIN, NY TIMES - A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled yesterday that the government has wide latitude under immigration law to detain non-citizens on the basis of religion, race or national origin, and to hold them indefinitely without explanation. The ruling came in a class-action lawsuit by Muslim immigrants detained after 9/11. . . This is the first time a federal judge has addressed the issue of discrimination in the treatment of hundreds of Muslim immigrants who were swept up in the weeks after the 2001 terror attacks and held for months before they were cleared of links to terrorism and deported. The roundups drew intense criticism, not only from immigrant rights advocates, but also from the inspector general of the Justice Department, who issued reports saying that the government had made little or no effort to distinguish between genuine suspects and Muslim immigrants with minor visa violations. Lawyers in the suit, who vowed to appeal yesterday's decision, said parts of the ruling could potentially be used far more broadly, to detain any non-citizen in the United States for any reason.
THOSE DAMN ENGLISH-SPEAKING, HARD-WORKING, FAMILY VALUING IMMIGRANTS
TYLER COWEN AND DANIEL M. ROTHSCHILD, WASHINGTON POST - Despite claims to the contrary, census data show that most Latino immigrants learn and speak English quite well. Only about 2.5 percent of American residents speak Spanish but not English. . . Only 7 percent of the children of Latino immigrants speak Spanish as a primary language, and virtually none of their children do. . .
The family has long been the core social unit in America, and immigrants share that value. Census data show that 62 percent of immigrants over age 15 are married, compared to 52 percent of natives. Only 6 percent of Latino adults are divorced, compared with 10 percent of whites and 12 percent of African Americans. Latino immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households rather than just visiting grandparents a couple of times a year. . .
WHO'S MORE ILLEGAL HERE? BILL O'REILLY & GEORGE BUSH OR A DESCENDANT OF AZTECS AND INCAS?
ROBERT MIRANDA, HISPANIC VISTA - Mexicans come from 10,000 years of human history and all of it in the conquered lands now known in history books as Mesoamerica and the United States of North America. Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Columbians and all the ethnic peoples that make up Latin America and the Caribbean basin come from native tribes that flourished long before the invasion of the Spanish Europeans and the introduction of African slaves into this Hemisphere. . .
Latinos are a people who remember our ancestry. We know that the lands that were taken after the Indian Wars and the Mexican - American War, are ancestral lands that many Mexicans consider to this day as part of their ancient history.
Who you calling "illegal?"
The Aztecs and Incas, Apache, the Comanche, Pueblo Indians and all the native people who for thousands of years harvested these lands and built cities, and lived free under their own set of laws and rules, thrived and prospered. . .
These lands stolen by the greed and manipulations and war of those who arrived on ships from Europe, and then began stealing land that was never theirs, today have descendents who have inherited their wealth from this theft and have turned to the descendents of the native people and have called them "illegal".
Who you calling "illegal?"
The blood of Geronimo, Orocobix, Cochise and Pope, of the Pueblo Indians reminds us conscious Latinos - Chicanos of our legacy and ancient history. I'm supposed to surrender this history because Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and Milwaukee's local right-wing talking heads say that I must? . . .
Who you calling "illegal"?
CUT IMMIGRATION, LOSE VALEDICTORIANS
SQUARING THE GLOBE - The Boston Globe website published the pictures of each valedictorian in Boston's high schools and other high school programs. As you thumb through the pictures, it is striking how many of these students are immigrants. . . The Globe listed the country of birth for each student. For some US-born students I guessed that they were 2nd generation immigrants (for instance if they were Vietnamese). Almost 2/3 of the Boston valedictorians are either immigrants or children of immigrants. From my analysis: here is the breakdown of the 38 valedictorians:
1st or 2nd generation US 63.2%
Born in the US 52.6%
OVER HALF THE FOREST FIRE FIGHTERS IN NORTHWEST ARE IMMIGRANTS
KIRK JOHNSON, NY TIMES - The debate over immigration, which has filtered into almost every corner of American life in recent months, is now sweeping through the woods, and the implications could be immense for the coming fire season in the West. As many as half of the roughly 5,000 private firefighters based in the Pacific Northwest and contracted by state and federal governments to fight forest fires are immigrants, mostly from Mexico. And an untold number of them are working here illegally. A recent report by the inspector general for the United States Forest Service said illegal immigrants had been fighting fires for several years. The Forest Service said in response that it would work with immigration and customs enforcement officers and the Social Security Administration to improve the process of identifying violators. . .
Some Hispanic contractors say the state and federal changes could cause many immigrants, even those here legally, to stay away from the jobs. Other forestry workers say firefighting jobs may simply be too important - and too hard to fill - to allow for a crackdown on illegal workers.
WOMEN LEADING MANY IMMIGRATION GROUPS
PUENG VONGS, NEW AMERICA MEDIA - The movement for comprehensive immigration reform has sent oceans of people to the streets nationwide, and women have emerged as leaders of this upsurge. "Many immigration advocacy groups across the nation are led by women," says Lillian Galedo, executive director with Filipinos for Affirmative Action in Oakland, part of the National Network for Immigration and Refugee Rights. . .
Emma Lozano, executive director of Centro Sin Fronteras in Chicago, has been working for immigrant rights since 1983. For nine months she asked Spanish-language radio deejays to speak out against tough anti-immigrant bills. The result was a Chicago protest on July 1, 2005 that gathered 50,000. That followed later with the first major protest in early March in Chicago, which drew 300,000 and put the movement on the map. On May Day she helped turn out 400,000 people in Chicago. . .
The number of female immigrants, legal and illegal, worldwide rose from 46 percent in 1960 to 49 percent in 2000, according to a United Nations report. In Europe, Latin American and North America, women make up more than half of the immigrant population. The Pew Hispanic Center says of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 4 million of them are women. That also means that a greater number of them are being caught in immigration crackdowns.
OTHER IMMIGRATION POLICIES THAT HAVEN'T WORKED
Under penalty of death, no Irish man, woman, or child, is to let himself, herself, itself be found east of the River Shannon. - Order of Parliament, 1654
BLAMING IMMIGRANTS FOR GLOBALIZATION
THE IMMIGRATION issue is getting its legs in no small part from a successful transfer of blame for job loss from globalization to immigration. Honest statistics are hard to come by, but you can be fairly certain when a chronic problem becomes an instant crisis, there is far more than data driving it.
Consider, for example, a recent speech by Stewart Acuff, organizing director of the AFL-CIO in which he points out:
"The passage of NAFTA forced the Mexican government to end subsidies on the growing of corn and beans. So farmers couldn't afford to grow basic foods and workers couldn't afford to buy. And we wonder at the huge increase in immigration in the last ten years.
"In fact, real manufacturing wages in Mexico have declined by 9 percent. In the AFL-CIO research before the FTAA Summit in November of 2003 we found that Mexico had lost more than 550 factories to China in 18 months, where wages are 60 cents an hour instead of $2.00 an hour."
But you won't hear about this in the immigration debate, nor the fact that many of the jobs that have been lost as a result of the Bush regime have been the direct result of government laws and not lawless Mexicans.
For example, noted Aucff, "Real wages for America's workers have been stagnant for 25 years. In the five years after the passage of NAFTA, the State of Georgia lost half of its apparel and textile manufacturing jobs destroying or economically gutting communities like Americus which lost a 300 job Manhattan shirt plant or Blue Ridge which lost a 500 job Levis plant or Rome which cost a 1,000 job denim plant or Waycross which lost a 1,000 job Levi plant . . . Finally, our nation lost three million manufacturing jobs during Bush's first term - more than in the previous 22 years combined."
VOTING AND THE NON-CITIZEN
RON HAYDUK, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - Although it's not widely known, non-citizen voting is as old as the Republic itself and as American as apple pie and baseball. Non-citizens voted from 1776 until 1926 in forty states and federal territories in local, state and even federal elections. Non-citizens also held public office. . .
Historically, voting and citizenship worked both ways. The right to vote has never been intrinsically tied to citizenship, which is why women and African Americans -- who were citizens -- were widely denied the vote until 1920 and 1965, respectively. Voting has always been about who has a say and who will have influence over the actions of government.
This historical precedent is making a comeback in some circles today. Currently, non-citizens vote in local elections in six towns in Maryland and in Chicago school elections. Over the past decade, non-citizen voting campaigns have been launched in at least a dozen jurisdictions from coast to coast, including Washington D.C., California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
BLACK AMBIVALENCE ON IMMIGRATION
EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON, NEW AMERICAN MEDIA - Two things happened within a day of each other this month that rammed race back into the debate over illegal immigration. A Field Poll in California found that blacks by a bigger percentage than whites, and even American-born Latinos, back liberal immigration reform measures. The very next day, a spirited group of black activists marched in front of the Los Angeles office of popular and outspoken black California House Democrat Maxine Waters, protesting her firm support of citizenship for illegal immigrants. . .
The Field Poll is accurate, but only up to a point. The majority of blacks instinctively pull for the underdog, especially if the underdog is poor and non-white. The majority of illegal immigrants fit that bill, and much more. . . .
Blacks also cringe at the thought that they could be perceived as racial bigots. When pollsters ask blacks their opinions on issues that deal with civil rights and racial justice, they reflexively give the response that will cast them in the most favorable racial light on these issues. Yet, like many whites, a significant number of blacks privately express doubts, even animosity, toward illegal immigrants.
The month before the results of the Field Poll were announced, a poll by the Pew Research Center found that many blacks were hostile toward illegal immigrants. The sore point with them was jobs. They blamed illegal immigrants for worsening the dire plight of young, poor African-American males. Recent studies by researchers at Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton, and the Urban League's annual State of Black America report confirm that black males suffer a jobless rate double and triple that of white males in some urban areas. Their unemployment numbers are also substantially higher than those of Latino males. . .
While civil rights leaders and black Democrats now firmly support illegal immigrants' rights, for a long time they were mute on the issue. The Congressional Black Caucus opposed the Sensenbrenner bill in the House last December. But it made little effort to expose the punitive and draconian provisions of the bill, let alone inform and engage blacks on how illegal immigration impacts their interests. . .
THE CULTURE OF IMMIGRATION
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST - I don't think the immigration debate is about economics . . . It's about culture and it's about fear.Among other things, it's about this voice-mail message: "Para continuar en español, oprima el numero 2. To continue in Spanish, press 2."
Many Anglos in Phoenix and elsewhere were surprised by the size of the protests two weeks ago, but the demonstrations were coordinated and publicized in the open, on Spanish-language radio. Latino immigrants in this recent wave, whether they intend to stay permanently or just work for a while and go home, are learning English but also keeping their Spanish -- and the fact is the United States now has a de facto second language. That seems to frighten a lot of people. . .
Maybe the real fear is more visceral . . . Maybe it's that you don't have to extrapolate immigration and fertility rates very far into the future to see an America in which minorities -- Hispanic, African and Asian Americans -- are a majority. To put it another way: an America in which whites join the rest of us as just another minority. That's already the case in our two most populous states, California and Texas, according to the Census Bureau, with others including New York, Arizona and Florida likely to follow soon. Don't freak out, folks. It's not the end of the world. You might ask your black neighbors for advice on how to cope.
JOHN D. GARTNER, WASHINGTON POST If you've been following the big immigration debate, you might get the impression that the primary economic advantage of liberal economic immigration policies is that they supply America with low-wage workers willing to do grueling, unskilled jobs that native-born Americans won't touch. Not true: They are the source of America's success.
The secret to America's wealth is that we were settled by restless, driven, overconfident, risk-taking dreamers. As I have explained in a book on the subject, these traits are all signs of a genetically based, mildly manic temperament, which is not a mental illness, called hypomania. . .
America is an amazing natural experiment -- a continent populated largely by self-selected immigrants. All these people had the get-up-and-go to pull up stakes and come here, a temperament that made them different from their friends and relatives who stayed home. . .
Not surprisingly, given this entrepreneurial spirit, immigrants are self-employed at much higher rates than native-born people, regardless of what nation they emigrate to or from. . . The four nations with the highest per capita creation of new companies are the United States, Canada, Israel and Australia -- all nations of immigrants. New company creation per capita is a strong predictor of gross domestic product, and so the conclusion is simple: Immigrants equal national wealth. . .
Immigrants, [Andrew Carnegie] wrote, were unusually "capable, energetic and ambitious" people. They had to be. "The old and the destitute, the idle and the contented do not brave the waves of the stormy Atlantic, but sit helplessly at home." . . .
ROLE OF FREE TRADE IN IMMIGRATION INCREASE IGNORED
CHIAPAS AL DIA, MEXICO - Migrating from or through Mexico to the United States without visas, 473 persons died last year along the border before reaching their destination. Most died of exposure to the elements (i.e., they froze to death in the mountains or died from heat stroke and dehydration in the desert or they drowned in canals or rivers). Some were murdered. The 10-year total of border-area migrant deaths is over 3,000. They died looking for work. Looking for one of the 4-D jobs (dirty, dangerous, dull, domestic) that Americans disdain. . .
A fact studiously ignored in the United States is that the US has promoted the same economic policies that have wrought disaster. But the chickens have come home to roost with a vengeance. There has been a significant upsurge (300% in ten years) of emigration from Mexico and Central America.
The response in the US has been a partial gamut of options: beefed-up border security, raising walls, threats of sanctions to employers who hire undocumented migrants, persecuting day laborers in Wal-Mart parking lots. All options are exercised. Except one. The only one that would make a significant advance in solving the migratory crisis, i.e., a thorough revision of economic policies. Open-market, neoliberal policies enshrined in free-trade agreements make it illegal for Mexico and the Central American countries to protect certain strategic and vulnerable parts of their economies. Protecting economies would entail the use of tariffs and duties to keep out competing goods from (principally) the United States. Yet by protecting their economies, countries such as Mexico would be able to resume successful industrialization programs that created jobs. Likewise, protecting the rural sector from cheap, highly subsidized, US agricultural products would help reestablish livelihoods on small farms, allow people to stay on the land and preclude the need to migrate to survive.
Yet it appears that exploring such options, the real root cause of emigration, is verboten in the United States. It's not even seriously discussed in academic circles.
The immigration myth
IT IS taken as a given in the immigration debate that our current system for dealing with the issue has some sort of historical logic. It doesn't. The story of immigration in the U.S. is a mishmash of hospitality and hatred, encouragement and restriction.
The Naturalization Act of 1790, for example, said that "any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States." Blacks, indentured servants, and most women couldn't be citizens no matter where they came from, but the underlying approach to immigration would boggle the mind of today's strict constructionists. If you were a free white male, you came, you saw, and you signed up. As the Citizenship and Immigration Services describes ti, "the law required a set period of residence in the United States prior to naturalization, specifically two years in the country and one year in the state of residence when applying for citizenship. When those requirements were met, an immigrant could file a Petition for Naturalization with "any common law court of record" having jurisdiction over his residence asking to be naturalized. Once convinced of the applicant?s good moral character, the court would administer an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States."
The essence of immigration as we know it today - i.e. the restriction of immigration - didn't become a major issue until the Chinese exclusion Act of 1882, hardly something of which Americans should be proud. This was the period of the great post-reconstruction counter revolution during which corporations gained enormous power but the rest of America and its citizens lost it.
The counter-revolution was not only an attack on would-be immigrants, it was aimed at American ethnic groups who had proved far too successful at adding to their political clout in places like Boston and New York City.
Richard Croker, a tough 19th century county boss of Tammany Hall, grew almost lyrical when he spoke of his party's duty to immigrants:
"They do not speak our language, they do not know our laws, they are the raw material with which we have to build up the state . . . There is no denying the service which Tammany has rendered to the republic. There is no such organization for taking hold of the untrained, friendless man and converting him into a citizen. Who else would do it if we did not? . . . [Tammany] looks after them for the sake of their vote, grafts them upon the Republic, makes citizens of them."
Alexander B. Callow Jr. of the University of California has written that Boston pol Martin Lomansey even met every new immigrant ship and "helped the newcomers find lodging or guided them to relatives. James Michael Curley set up nationalization classes to prepare newcomers for the citizenship examination . . . Friendly judges, anticipating election day, converted their courts into naturalization mills, grinding out a thousand new Americans a day. . . . Flags were waved, prose turned purple, celebrations were wild on national holidays. . . . Patriotism became a means for the newcomer to prove himself worthy."
By 1891 the federal government had assumed control of admitting or rejecting all immigrants and one year later Ellis island opened. By 1903 we had a law restricting Mexican laborers and during and after World I, laws were expanded greatly including a ban on all Asians save the Japanese.
We did not have the equivalent of a green card until 1940 and the actual card of that name only came in during the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. What we think of as our immigration system is in no small part a leftover from the McCarthy era.
It is common today to discuss immigration as though it were primarily an employment and economic matter. The trouble with this claim is that many of the people who are most anti-immigration are the same who have caused infinitely more economic harm to the country through globalization and outsourcing.
In truth, what really scares the exclusionists is the politics of immigrants, potentially more progressive than they would like. From Nordic populists in the northern middle west to European socialists, to the right immigration has meant left.
This, of course, isn't always true as in the case of Cuba but it helps to make the debate a bit clearer to understand what it is about.
In the end, we don't really have an immigration policy but an exclusion policy, outsourcing our prejudices by not letting their targets enter the country.