I don’t often agree with Conor Friedersdorf, but this time he nails it. I’m myself the grandson of turn-of-the-last-century Lithuanian immigrants. My ancestors arrived legally, because immigration was all but unregulated before 1905 and had no limits on anyone except East Asians before 1921.
I know a lot of people I went to school with in my hometown, of precisely the same background as myself, who have convinced themselves somehow that their ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, and who are now horrified to see the American landscape polluted by a new wave of exotic greenhorn immigrants speaking imperfect English.
Donald Trumpâ€™s immigration paper asserts, as â€œcore principles,â€ that â€œthere must be a wall across the southern borderâ€ because â€œa nation without borders is not a nation.â€ And it argues that â€œany immigration plan must improve jobs, wages, and security for all Americans,â€ because â€œa nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation.â€ Many have observed that America has never had a wall across its southern border, and that no immigration plan has ever improved wages and security for all Americans. By Trumpâ€™s logic, America has never been a nation.
One wonders what he calls the country that allowed his ancestors to immigrate here.
He is of German stock on his fatherâ€™s side.
Prior to his grandfatherâ€™s arrival, plenty of immigration restrictionists believed, not without reason, that German immigration had irrevocably changed their communities.
As one example, consider what took place in Cincinnati, Ohio.
â€œIn the 1840s and 1850s, Cincinnati society became increasingly unstable as German and Irish immigrants poured in,â€ The Cincinnati Inquirer reported in a historical retrospective. When an Italian emissary of the Pope visited in 1853, â€œGerman Catholics took to the streets armed with guns, pistols, clubs, canes and sling shots trying to run Cardinal Bedini out of town. The Germans, many of whom fled to the U.S. after the failed European revolutions of 1848, saw the priest as a symbol of repression.â€
Two years later, Germans clashed with a nativist mob alarmed by a rumor about electoral shenanigans. â€œGerman-Americans barricaded streets into Over-the-Rhine on the north edge of the Miami-Erie Canal,â€ the story notes. â€œMembers of the Turners, a German physical fitness organization, aimed their cannon and â€˜shot it over the head of the mob of nativists that came at them,â€™ says Don Heinrich Tolzmann, University of Cincinnati German-American studies director and curator of UC’s German-American Collection.â€ German immigrants, who started many German language settlements in the U.S., â€œhad become such a force at the ballot box that they pushed forâ€”and receivedâ€”bilingual education in city schools and Sunday beer sales.â€
The Know-Nothing Party ultimately failed at mid-century to stop the immigration of both Irish and Germans. And because they failed, Frederich Christ Trump could immigrate to America in 1885.
Read the whole thing.
Building a wall across the entire Southern US border would be preposterously expensive as well as constituting a disgraceful expression of totalitarian statism. Hispanic immigrants are not perfect. They are typically socially and educationally inferior to Americans. Some of them are criminals and undesirable. But that’s the way it always was. You get a certain number of crooks and radicals along with a great mass of perfectly assimilable salt-of-the-earth hard working people. America has always needed affordable labor, and America has always needed a new influx of people willing to take the low-paying, unpleasant jobs which native-born Americans, who have typically moved up and out of the laboring class, cannot be found to do.