Caravan of Love walk in support of immigrants and refugees. | Flickr1024 ├-- 576 - 224k - jpg
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In the heat of discussion about the status of legal and illegal immigrants, building the wall, and Islamophobia, it might help to consider a few aspects not generally brought into the conversation. Since early in our history, a mass of oppressed and impoverished peoples have flocked to our shores to seek haven and opportunity in the New World. With notable exceptions, they have always been welcome and have contributed fundamentally to the character and prosperity of our nation.
As the nation became more settled and populated, limitations were imposed on immigration according to economic conditions, country of origin, and other factors reflecting social and political attitudes peculiar to the time. In general, peoples from different cultures and countries have adapted well and, over time, blended into a common American style of living while retaining and contributing something of their native cultural identity - such as St. Patrick's Day, which everyone celebrates.
Among the notable exceptions are the harsh treatment and restrictions imposed upon Chinese immigrants during the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, and the unconstitutional imprisonment of Japanese, including native-born and naturalized citizens during World War II.
The eleven million or so undocumented immigrants from Latin American countries are a special case, requiring special treatment. Some of their ancestors were here before our nation existed. They have blended into the larger Latino community and have contributed immensely to our nation's well-being, commonly in essential menial jobs and at the sacrifice of better opportunities for self-improvement open to immigrants of legal status.
Granted, in a normal world - which doesn't currently exist - a nation would have control of its borders. But in the current state of affairs, borders are very fluid where countries are commonly transgressing each other's borders as flows of military forces and as exploitive economic policies of globalization create floods of political and economic refugees. A wall is not a permanent solution to keep out invasions of illegal immigrants. Walled fortresses and cities are the method of medieval times as required under perpetual hostilities. They reflect the medieval mentality of our present administration. We must look at the conditions causing the flow of immigrants and do something to correct them. And they are obvious.
Wherever there is great economic and political disparity, people will always migrate from poverty to better livelihood possibilities, and from oppression to relative freedom and opportunity. The flow will wax and wane but will never cease until some sort of equilibrium is established. The mere presence of our prosperous modern economic nation next to a region struggling under the backward plantation-like economic conditions of many Latin American countries acts like a magnet for immigration. On top of that, despite our government being in denial, our historical interference in the political and economic affairs of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Chile, Columbia, Argentina, etc., has contributed significantly to the flow of immigrants.
If we could change our policies towards Latin America to a "Good Neighbor" policy envisioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt - rein in our corporate exploitation there, change our trading, lending, and privatization practices that tend to drive some countries towards bankruptcy, as described in John Perkins' "Confessions of An Economic Hit Man" - that could curtail immigration.