Rhetoric against immigrants part of ugly U.S. history

07/08/2014 12:35 PM

07/11/2014 4:46 PM

It is a recurring problem in U.S. history that officeholders find political value in hurting, oppressing and making life difficult for newcomers.

Chinese immigrants were the targets in the late 1800s after they were brought to the United States to help build the railroads. Once completed, laws were enacted to ban their immigration.

Restrictions in the early 20th century were put on targeted immigrants from certain parts of Europe. Racism and bigotry were at the root of such political actions.

It’s no different now. In this 21st century, the scorn turns to the Mexican border, where thousands of people — many unaccompanied minors — are crossing seeking the ages-old American promise of a better life.

A law signed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush is at the root of the latest influx of people. It was meant to curtail human trafficking.

But it has resulted in a surge of minors coming to the United States. Efforts now are underway to step up deportations with the Obama administration seeking more than $2 billion in emergency funds to expedite the legal processing of the more than 52,000 children and 39,000 families who are captured each year.

Immigration reform will have to wait. It has no political traction.

The politics right now is on talking tough and acting tougher against the newcomers. It’s part of our American history.

But one has to wonder what things would be like if Native Americans had responded in a similar fashion more than 500 years ago.

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