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JOHNSON: A nation of migrants

Sailboat passes in front of the Toronto skylin...Image via Wikipedia
> SOUTHERN INDIANA — As far as we know, the only true natives living in America today are the Indians. Columbus gave them that name. He was wrong...this isn’t India. In Canada, they are called the “First Nations;” this better describes those who were here long before a single European set foot on the continent. So, unless you have “First Nations” blood flowing in your veins, you are an immigrant, or a descendent of immigrants.

Immigrants built this nation; from the earliest days, people have come here looking for a better life, and worked hard to find it. Many fled poverty, persecution, and despotism. They came to experience the freedom to worship as they chose, and to live in a country where inalienable human rights were recognized.

Every new wave of immigration in our history has been met with suspicion and hostility by the people already here. The First Nations certainly didn’t want their land taken away...but it was, with the exception of a few reservations that the French, the Spanish and the English didn’t want.

When the Irish began to arrive on our shores in the early 1800’s, they were stigmatized by those already here as a whiskey-loving people incapable of little more than getting drunk and brawling. To a predominantly Protestant population, the fact that most Irish immigrants were Roman Catholics made them especially undesirable as neighbors. It wasn’t all that long ago when signs that read “No Irish Need Apply” could be seen on the doors of prospective employers everywhere, but especially in Boston, New York and other great cities of the northeast.

About the same time the Irish were coming from the east, the Chinese began to come from the west. The attitude of those who felt threatened by these new immigrants was that as bad as the Irish were, at least they were white. Since their language, customs and culture seemed especially alien, the Chinese were hated, feared and treated with considerable brutality.

In spite of their uncertain welcome, the Irish and Chinese kept coming ... and thank God they did. These two peoples built much of this country’s infrastructure, especially our railroads, bridges, and canals. As some still say today, they took the jobs that no one else wanted ... and did them well.

Later immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe; the Italians, Poles, Slavs, Greeks and others. These in their turn were met with hostility and suspicion by the people already here ... including the Irish and Chinese.

In recent years, our nation has been enriched by the arrival of legal immigrants from every nation, including the Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians; Indians, Africans ... the list is too long to publish. Most arriving on our shores have suffered the same suspicion and rejection as their predecessors ... but have stayed, worked hard and become law-abiding, contributing citizens.

Then there are the immigrants that came here against their wills; Africans who were kidnapped and sold into slavery here in America. Of all the immigrants to reach these shores, their treatment by those already here has been the most brutal; and they have suffered discrimination for the longest period of time ... generations.

In spite of these circumstances, no other immigrant group has contributed as much as they have to the success and culture of our nation. Someday Martin Luther King’s dream will come true; we will no longer classify people by their color or ethnicity, but judge them by the content of their character.

Today, some are concerned about people of Latin descent coming from Mexico and Central/South America. It’s the same old story; just the name of the immigrant group has changed. Latinos have already contributed much to our nation, and will continue to do so, just as immigrants who came before them have done.

Today’s issue is not about immigration, as some would have us believe; it is about illegal immigration. We are a nation of immigrants ... but we are a nation of legal immigrants. We are also a nation of laws. It’s not good to start a new life in a new country by ignoring the law.

Arizona has it right; leaving our borders open and unprotected is dangerous ... and foolish. Illegal drugs are flowing into our country from Mexico almost unimpeded. If our Federal government is unwilling to enforce its own immigration laws, then the states will have to step in out of self-defense.

The Mexican drug cartels are well financed, well-armed, and well-organized; and they are taking full advantage of our government’s inaction. If nothing changes, we can expect a continued escalation of violence on both sides of the border. Crime loves a vacuum. Law enforcement needs more help.

Drug money is a major source of funding for many of the terrorist organizations that have declared war on our freedom. Whether it’s heroin from the poppy fields of Afghanistan, or cocaine from South America, some of that money is buying bombs to be used to blow up innocent people.

Let’s not forget the Canadian border, either. Just because we don’t hear much about it in the news, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be paying closer attention.

In the end, we are a nation of immigrants. Immigration has made us the freest and strongest nation in the world ... the envy of those who desire to live here, and the bane of those who hate our freedom and want to take it away. We are all best served, citizen and immigrant alike, if our borders are secured, and those who desire to live and work in our country come here legally.
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