8/30/07

Immigration Truths

Immigration Truths (by Vito de la Cruz, Hispanic News - 8.29.07)

Phoenix - A pointedly appropriate saying comes to mind as the nation heatedly debates immigration reform: the truth won’t kill you but it sure is inconvenient. People opposed to immigration reform don’t like hearing the truth about immigrants and consequently try to drown out rational debate with venomous polemics. But, the truth lives in every street corner labor pool, hiring line, construction site, farm, and meatpacking plant. America is addicted to immigrant labor.

We can’t ignore it. Our love for our reasonably-priced standard of living won’t let us. The truth is America’s economy thrives because America mainlines immigrant labor.

This addiction started almost from the beginning. English, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, even Russian colonizers entered and claimed separate parts of Native America. Through force or trickery, they took what didn’t belong to them and settled this country, Canada, and Latin America. Yet, from the earliest time, we felt entitled to import immigrant labor, first indentured servants and later slaves. Our country even ripped itself asunder over the issue of the forced migration and subjugation of African slaves.

Ironically, even before the Civil War, America was hewed to its current addiction. Imported Irish and Chinese workers fueled industry, especially the railroads, foundries, and stockyards of a growing America.

Every generation witnessed a wave of immigration feeding the addict’s pipe dream. And, vocal minorities in each generation self-righteously clamored to "send them all back where they came from."

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