As “Trump’s anti-immigrant onslaught sparks fresh alarm heading into 2024” and “His comments have renewed concern from Latino leaders, civil rights groups and experts on extremism…” (1) When is enough, enough? While the vast majority of immigrants coming into the United States these days are Latino, they are just the newest group to be scapegoated.
It is easier for people to blame than to accept, especially if those people are different. Xenophobia is a very real thing, and Donald Trump’s a master at fanning its flames. Contrary to his 2016 claim that Mexico sends its worst people. Those that have lots of problems, and are bringing those problems with us them, drugs, crime, and rapists. It is best to remember that America was populated by many of the dregs of European society. They did in fact send their worst people.
“Transportation, was a criminal term for forced emigration that allowed Britain to expel its social undesirables, criminals, and others to populate and colonize distinct lands. In practice, criminals sentenced to death could either choose transportation or hanging, so forced emigration was a common choice since death was the only punishment for a felony conviction under English common law. In the Americas, Europeans relied heavily on coerced labor from indigenous populations and imported unfree people, largely chattel slaves. Criminal transportation supplemented these efforts by banishing offenders to distant colonies under state supervision. Unlike African slaves whose enslavement became inheritable and perpetual, convicts facilitated colonial expansion by serving a term of service, and transportation also rid Europe of unwanted elements.” (2)
The mantra of many today is that these undocumented immigrants enter the US illegally, and that their parents or grandparents entered the US legally. This is not true in more cases than one. As The American Immigration Council states “Many people assume that their family immigrated to the United States legally, or did it “the right way.” In most cases, this statement does not reflect the fact that the U.S. immigration system was very different in the past and that their families might not have been allowed to enter had today’s laws been in effect. When many families arrived in the United States, there were no numerical limitations on immigration, no requirements to have an existing family or employment relationship with someone in the country, and no requirement to obtain a visa prior to arriving. The definition of who is “legal”—and who is not—changes with the evolution of immigration laws. In some cases, claiming that a family came “legally” is simply inaccurate—unauthorized immigration has been a reality for generations.” (3)
In the introduction to The Economic Assimilation of Irish Famine Migrants to the United States (2019), authors William J. Collins and Ariell Zimran state that “Most of the Irish emigrants settled in the United States, where virtually open borders gave sanctuary from the imminent threat of starvation and disease. While approximately 90 percent of immigrants to the United States came from Ireland, England, or Germany. Among these groups, the Irish were by far the largest. By the 1840’s, due to a potato famine in Ireland, the number of immigrants sky rocketed to 845,000.” (William J. Collins and Ariell Zimran) (4)
The roughly 125,000 undocumented immigrants that have arrived in New York City within the last two years, the majority of which are from Central and South America, or the African countries of Mauritania, Senegal, Burundi, Chad, and others, are fleeing their homelands for reasons very similar to those of earlier immigrants, ie, threat of starvation, disease, government corruption and political oppression. But unlike the immigrants of the past, today’s mostly brown and black immigrants do not find virtually open borders, nor are they fortunate to have a Castle Garden nor an Ellis Island to pass through. Because of the broken, and very discriminatory immigration system in the United States, today’s immigrants are forced to enter the US by sneaking across the Mexican boarder.
Donald J. Trump plays on the most vile aspects of the human spirit. His rhetoric is not only inflammatory but dangerous. From the very beginning there has always existed two opposing sentiments. One such sentiment has tried to count on the better aspects of the human spirit. Inclusion, liberty and justice for all. The other sentiment has always counted on the worst and most deplorable in human kinds spirit. This group placed economic gains above all else. They advocated slavery, initiated a war to keep it, and after the war and slavery was “abolished” they implemented the so-called Jim Crow laws. Always attempting to oppress, never seeking to edify.
The United States of America began on racist thoughts and actions. 247 years after it’s founding, some of those vile concepts still permeate. Lets look at some of those very racist immigration policies that have ensued:
- The Plantation Act of 1740 granted new, non-Catholic, English colonial settlers naturalization after seven years of residency.
- The Naturalization Act of 1790, extended citizenship to free white persons of good character who had resided in the United States for two years and took an oath of allegiance.
- 1798 Congress passed a group of Laws that came to be known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts subjected aliens to the threat of national surveillance and arbitrary arrest, and granted a new power to the president to deport non citizens via decree.
- By 1855, in New York City, 51 percent of the population was foreign born, while in California more than 63 percent of the population was foreign born.
- The Immigration Act of 1882 mandated state officials to identify, and deny entry to “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of him or herself without becoming a public charge. It also passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which initially imposed a 10 year ban on Chinese laborers. Congress then extended this ban through 1943. The Chinese Exclusion Act was in affect for a total of 61 years.
- Before the American Revolution, Britain transported about 50,000 convicts to the American colonies. However, the largest population of forced migrants to North America were not criminals but the 388,000 enslaved Africans. Slavery was different from the other forced migrations, for slaves there was no possibility of earning freedom.
As we can see from its earliest inception immigration was a very deliberate, controlled, and discriminatory process.
After the Civil War, Congress set about reforming the naturalization law to be consistent with the end of slavery. But members of Congress disagreed on how far to extend the rights afforded by naturalization. One Senator, Charles Sumner (R-MA), wanted to strike out “the word ‘white’ wherever it occurred so that there would be no distinction of race or color in naturalization. Other congressmen refused to extend naturalization rights to Asians and American Indians. The end result was the Naturalization Act of 1870 that granted naturalization rights to “aliens being free white persons, and to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent.”
Immigration after 1965
By the end of the 20th century, the policies put into effect by the Immigration Act of 1965 had greatly changed the face of the American population. Whereas in the 1950s, more than half of all immigrants were Europeans and just 6 percent were Asians, by the 1990s only 16 percent were Europeans and 31 percent were of Asian descent, while the percentages of Latino and African immigrants had also jumped significantly. Between 1965 and 2000, the highest number of immigrants (4.3 million) to the U.S. came from Mexico, in addition to some 1.4 million from the Philippines. Korea, the Dominican Republic, India, Cuba and Vietnam were also leading sources of immigrants, each sending between 700,000 and 800,000 over this period. (5)
White European immigrants up until 1970, accounted for the largest number of immigrants to the US, today, immigration from Europe falls behind that of every other area of the world except Africa.
Since 1965, New York City has continued to be a major destination for immigrants from a wide range of countries and regions. Here’s a list of various immigrant groups and the corresponding timeframe in which they have immigrated into New York City, although it’s important to note that immigration patterns can be complex and ongoing:
- Latin American Immigrants: Beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the present day, immigrants from countries such as the Dominican Republic, and various Central and South American nations have settled in New York City. There has been a steady stream of Mexican immigrants into New York City, particularly since the 1990s.
Caribbean Immigrants: Immigrant’s from countries like Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and other Caribbean nations have been a significant part of New York’s immigrant community since the 1960s.
Chinese Immigrants: New York City’s Chinatown has seen a substantial influx of immigrants from China, particularly starting in the 1970s.
South Asian Immigrants: Immigrant’s from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have been arriving in significant numbers since the 1970s.
Filipino Immigrants: Filipino immigrants have been coming to New York City in increasing numbers, particularly from the 1970s onward.
Russian and Former Soviet Union Immigrants: After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was an influx of immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics, with a significant increase in the 1990s.
African Immigrants: Since the 1980s, immigrants from a variety of African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Ethiopia, have chosen New York City as their home.
Middle Eastern Immigrants: Immigrant’s from countries such as Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and more have been coming to New York City since the late 20th century.
South and Southeast Asian Immigrants: Immigrant’s from countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have arrived in the city in notable numbers from the late 20th century through the present.
West African Immigrants: Immigrant’s from West African countries, including Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria, have been arriving in increasing numbers in recent decades.
Arab Immigrants: The Arab immigrant population in New York City has grown, with people from countries like Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen establishing communities.
Eastern European Immigrants: Immigrant’s from Eastern European countries like Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary have continued to arrive since the 1990s.
Central Asian Immigrants: Immigrant’s from Central Asian nations, such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, have also found a home in New York City, especially in the 21st century.
The Browning of America
In her paper, “The Meaning of The Browning of America” written in 1991 Miren Uriarte states that a “Population analysis and projections of the U.S. minority population conducted by the Urban Institute point to the fact that by 2070, over half of the population of the U.S. will be of color. The minority population that we will be speaking about then will be white. By the year 2000, just less than 1/3 of the U.S. population will be of color. (6)
However, according to the United States Census Bureau as of July 2022, 43.6% of the total US population is non white. That is a little under fifty percent. The browning of America has an even more significant meaning now. Using the information presented here, one can extrapolate that the America of the future will have changed drastically. Hispanic’s will be the largest economic engine, and one of the most influential political power faction. Could this notion be behind why so many old white men in power are fighting so hard to Make America Great, again? I’ll tell you, when any non-white person in America looks back in time, they will not see any period in American history that was great for them. They are not the one’s shouting Make America Great, again.
1619, is often seen as the beginning of slavery in America—but enslaved Africans arrived in North America as early as the 1500s. It was not until December 6, 1865, that the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, 246 years later.
The Plantation Act of 1740 granted new, non-Catholic, English colonial settlers naturalization after seven years of residency.
The 1790 U.S. Census showed that about 80.7 percent of the United States population was white. That same year Congress passed the Naturalization Act of 1790, extending citizenship to free white persons of good character who had resided in the United States for two years and took an oath of allegiance.
In 1795 the Naturalization Act of 1790 was amended to include a religious connotation, it changed “good character” to “good moral character.
In 1798 Congress passed a group of Laws that came to be known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts subjected aliens to the threat of national surveillance and arbitrary arrest, and granted a new power to the president to deport non citizens via decree.
By 1855, in New York City, 51 percent of the population was foreign born, while in California more than 63 percent of the population was foreign born.
The Immigration Act of 1882 mandated state officials to identify, and deny entry to “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of him or herself without becoming a public charge. It also passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which initially imposed a 10 year ban on Chinese laborers. Congress then extended this ban an additional 61 years, through 1943.
In 1929 the Great Depression begins and many Mexican and Mexican Americans are deported or repatriated to Mexico.
February 19, 1942 Executive Order 9066 places persons of Japanese ancestry, many whom worked on farms, into internment camps.
For many in power, political, economical, academic, etc. the notion of becoming a minority is very frightening, and subliminally of many regular Whites it is as well. Many do not even know that they are racist or have racist tendencies. “Some of my best friends are…” These thoughts are the motivating factors behind statements like “they are taking our jobs”, “they are lazy and just want to live on welfare”. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of these immigrants want to work hard and make life better for their families. While thousands of Italian and Irish immigrated here, most were decent and hard working. On the other hand some did engage in criminality and banded together to form organized criminal syndicates.
Eventually those immigrants assimilated into the American way of life and their offspring became successful, productive members of society. So to will todays immigrants. Unless there is a nefarious reason to want them out. No one says that it is easy to find a solution to todays immigrant crisis. But a solution was found to acclimate 20 million European immigrants, I’m sure that if we come together we can find a remedy for a mere 125,000.
(1) NYTimes Article “Trump’s anti-immigrant onslaught sparks fresh alarm heading into 2024”
By Marianne LeVine and Meryl Kornfield
October 12, 2023 at 5:19 a.m. EDT
(2) Criminal Transportation in the Atlantic World
Nicole K. Dressler, Aaron Spencer Fogleman
(3) Did My Family Really Come “Legally”?
The American Immigration Council August 2016
(4) The economic assimilation of Irish Famine migrants to the United States
William J. Collins and Ariell Zimran
(5) Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965
(6) The Meaning of The Browning of America