A dear lawyer friend of mine for nearly 60 years recently posted a Facebook comment lamenting President Trump's new, tightened immigration policy, saying that "immigration made America great." My wife and I will be visiting him and his wife not long after this essay is published. It is, in effect, a long response to his lament, but I am leaving out here any elaboration on what I will also say to him, "Jim, face it, America has never been great."
The land yet named "America," after first being set afoot by voluntary immigrants thousands of years earlier, was subsequently touched for the first time by another wave of voluntary immigrants, but along with them came the forced "immigrants," African slaves. Known if not suppressed by most Americans today is the misery these involuntary immigrants suffered under the tight and brutal yoke of the second landfall of voluntary immigrants, the blood-thirsty, religiously fanatical, and imperialistically land-grabbing white Europeans who were imitating their mother land's own forms of land grabbing, subjugation and incessant bloodshed throughout white Europe.
Why did America's power elite, themselves once immigrants, foster continued immigration but included allowing a decidedly different class of peoples? The two answers are clear to me, making America a gateway for cheap labor and for dividing and conquering the powerless.
What could be cheaper for the slave holders than unpaid hands working the plantations and tending to household duties than slave labor? What could be cheaper for the tycoons of early industrialized America than immigrants toiling for pittance in mind numbing, grueling, hazardous factories and rail yards? And what could be cheaper centuries later than today's illegal, undocumented immigrants who toil for pittance and no benefits on America's corporate farms and factories, in the restaurant and hotel business, and as house maids for the upper crust?
While the labor is indeed cheap for the laborers' employers, the costs to government are astronomical in absorbing the annual, multibillion-dollar expenses of subsidizing public education and providing a variety of welfare benefits and services.
History's power elite, vastly outnumbered by the powerless, soon learned that their best defense against them was to divide and conquer them. So it is to this day. The U.S. is a polyglot of ethnically diverse cultures, with their intolerances and prejudices toward each other. The "United" States" has never been united, and that suits the power elite perfectly. They designed it that way, and fostering immigration and its resulting divisiveness has been one of those ways.