Since about the years 2004/2005 the topic of illegal immigration to this country has been a non-ending source of pandering and demagoguery. Ultra-right-wingers such as the teapot crackpots (tea party) and other assorted loons have been bemoaning the fact that there are supposedly about 11 million illegal aliens within our borders, and they just keep on coming. Some on the far-right have used figures as high as over 20 million illegals, with almost all of them being Latinos. In the right-wing delusional state that these tea partiers inhabit, the hope is that the Government will somehow round-up 11-20 million illegals and ship them back to Latin America. Mitt Romney, when he was campaigning for president, aided and abetted those delusions by making the weird statement that illegal immigrants should “self-deport” themselves back to where they came from. I’m going to go out on a limb, and taking a wild guess that this was the reason he only received 31% of the Hispanic vote, which in turn, cost him the election. Romney believed he had to pander to the far right-wing of the Republican party to gain their trust and, hence, their vote; by posing as one who was as crazy as they were when it came to the immigration issue. Now, Congress is supposedly trying to come up with new laws and solutions to the undocumented worker issue. Don’t hold your breath.
But it got me thinking as to what course our history would have charted if the Native American tribes that possessed the North American Continent had established tough immigration laws when confronting the sudden influx of white Europeans. Would they have created a tough and lengthy immigration process as we have now for those seeking to legally gain entry to our country? Would they have required white European settlers to speak and become fluent in the Iroquois language or those languages of other native tribes. (Who, by the way, were wrongly called Indians by Christopher Columbus and his exploration parties. Even after it dawned on them that they hadn’t arrived in India.) Would pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock have been required to have an extensive knowledge of the history and customs of each Native American tribe? Would these pilgrims first be required to obtain a green card or other work permits before they could even be considered for citizenship? Fortunately for the early European settlers, the existing Native American tribes were not militarily strong enough to insist on formal immigration procedures before these settlers could enter the country. So the Europeans started coming over in droves, and taking over, and occupying the lands that Native Americans had inhabited for centuries. Even if it meant slaughtering the natives by the thousands. Which they did without honor or conscience.
In the latter part of the 19th century, the illegal white settlers made some feeble attempts to right the injustices inflicted on Native Americans. They carved out some usually inhospitable territories and ordered native tribes to pack up and resettle in those lands. This meant the tribes had to give up their tribal grounds where their ancestors were buried and moving to unfamiliar lands. These movements of native tribes from their homelands to new territories are often referred to in history as the trail of tears. Many lives were lost along the way. Today, these tribal “nations” are usually riddled with poverty, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and high unemployment and welfare. (Who could have predicted that outcome?) Some tribes have secured permits to build gambling casinos on their lands which has, indeed, given these communities a fresh infusion of economic wealth. Sort of the way it’s done in Las Vegas and Reno. Those that haven’t built casinos are still mired in poverty.
So, to a large extent, all of us that are not Native Americans, are illegal immigrants. But that doesn’t stop the far-right from demonizing those amongst us that are “undocumented.” Which is, of course, overwhelmingly Hispanic. The deep-seated, if unspoken, fear among the tea party crowd, and other assorted right-wing looney-tuners, is that the growing influx of both legal and illegal immigrants will change the very nature of our ethnic and cultural heritage. Instead of a country dominated by white Anglo-Saxons, we will become a nation where minority populations will come to predominate. And Hispanics will have the largest numbers and influence among these minorities. Which is very true and already happening, whether the opposition likes it or not. This sends the anti-immigration crowd into a frenzy. If they could, they would like to build, like a thousand mile wall about a hundred feet high, with electrified barb-wire on top, along our border with Mexico. And post about 100,000 border patrol agents there, to shoot, on sight, anyone crossing the border without the required documentation.
One reason we have a large extent of illegal immigration to this country, is because the legalization process is so lengthy. It often takes about ten years of grueling paperwork to come here legally. It also requires a knowledge of American history, culture and politics that most high school and many college students in this country fail to possess. My own view is that anyone seeking to come here should be allowed in as long as they can speak a reasonable amount of English and have no criminal record. If they want to come, let them in. We have vast swaths of land that are nearly uninhabited, where they can settle. Here in Nevada, the hundreds of miles between Las Vegas and Reno, is mostly devoid of population. The same is true for practically the entire state of Montana. The very commercial and social foundations of this country were built by immigrants. If people in other counties that can speak English and have no criminal background believe they can make a better life for themselves here, we should welcome them in.
I realize, however, that this is a much too sane and rational solution to the immigration wars currently being waged. So Congress pontificates, the President offers proposals, and all are loaded with enough land mines to blow-up any common-sense resolution of the immigration situation. Such is the nature of our political process in present day America. I guess anyone seeking entry, but not willing to wait 10 years, will have to continue to try to sneak in. And right-wing whackos can retreat to their delusional ivory towers, and wait for all the illegals to self-deport.