“What are they doing coming here? I mean, why don’t they fix their own problems instead of bringing their poverty and diseases to our soil.” History.com, paraphrase from Irish Immigration page
“Bunch of thieving unwashed criminals are flooding us!” Another paraphrase from Wikipedia on anti-Italianism
Yep. We’ve seen large influxes of immigrants from other countries before and for similar reasons. Both the Irish and Italian immigrations of the mid 1800s and early 1900s were triggered by terrible economic conditions in their home countries and life in the United States offered the hope of a better future.
By and large, these dreams came true. Heck, my grandmother’s maiden name was Durfey (Irish) and my family name is Lunetta (“little moon” in Italian).
Today, we see a large group of Central Americans seeking a better life in the U.S. as well. Large bands of people from Honduras and Guatemala are marching toward our southern border as we speak.
I think what offends many of us who are already here is that these migrants are marching, breaking down fences, and seem to be demanding to be let in. That is not the American way.
Dude, just ask us politely. We’ll probably say “yes.”
Why do I say this? Because the United States is extremely generous and open about immigration. Last year, we allowed about one million folks to become legal residents. I have also heard that an additional 3.5 million people are allowed in through chain immigration but I could not confirm this.
We are a nation of immigrants. Always have been. Always will be.
The folks marching up from Central America seem to be numbered anywhere between 1,000 and 7,000 in several large bands. Let’s call it 10,000 just for argument’s sake.
I looked at Irish immigration for the years 1820-1930. It was about 4.5 million people or 41,000 per year on average. No wonder St. Patrick’s Day is such a big deal and any game at Fenway Park has 10,000 drunken Irishmen in the bleachers. Seriously.
On the Italian side, from 1820 to 2004, about 5.5 million showed up, which equates to about 30,000 per year. Wonder why Olive Garden is so popular? Yep, it’s all those goombas like me that need our pasta fix.
Just to put it into perspective, we are talking about a one-year surge of 10,000 people that equates to a quarter or a third of the immigration we allowed for Irish and Italians for 100-plus years. That does not seem like very much.
Add to the fact that Honduras and Guatemala are really small countries that cannot sustain high levels of immigration, I don’t think we have much to fear over the long term.
Why don’t we come to some sort of compromise? Instead of simply saying “no” to these immigrants, why not set up a system that controls their entry, ensures that there are no criminals or terrorists among them, and preserves the integrity of our border?
In exchange, the migrants must agree to “ask us politely” — i.e., formally request refugee status, get in line, and wait for us to make a decision. If they start breaking down fences and running, we load ’em on a boat and ship them back.
We could start the process immediately. There are U.S. consulates in Mexico along the March route. The marchers could apply for entry, Mexico could grant temporary residence there, and we gradually bring them north.
For those who seem dangerous, we flag them to the Mexicans, who ship them back to their southern border.
I am curious about one thing, though. Who is paying for this? Our intrepid press that seems to be breathlessly following these marches hoping that it will bring crisis and calamity to the evening newscasts have abjectly failed to answer this question.
Some have accused liberals like George Soros of providing material support. Others have accused foreign governments and charitable religious groups.
I tend to think, with a few exceptions, that most of it is being self-funded with reliance on the generosity and kindness of the communities through which the marches pass.
It’s very unfortunate that this issue has blown up into the political football it is today. Maybe we conservatives and liberals should put the politics aside and simply solve the problem.
Like the Italians and Irish of the past, these folks are simply looking for a future. As long as they respect our laws and are patient, we can find a way forward.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and likes Olive Garden, Dino and Sinatra. He can be reached at email@example.com.