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July 4 is almost here in Freedom Land. Celebration of the liberties, self-congratulation for having the best form of government (that goes for the Tea Party folks, too, who love the image although they absolutely hate the results), and endless repetition of how we’re so lucky to not live anywhere else.
All of which is true, more or less. And it’s also why so many of our impoverished and downtrodden neighbors to the south try to get in–and stay–here. Witness the recent flood of children and teens arriving unaccompanied at the US border, despite the dangers and long odds, and actually hoping to be apprehended.
Also witness the alarmed anti-immigrant eruption here, which has been at a boil for decades, but now threatens to explode, with the anger aimed directly at the federal government, which is supposed to do something.
Sadly, the antis don’t realize that this is a battle they cannot win. And I’m really growing weary of both their strident complaining and their lack of awareness of history, at least the history of the past 500 years or so.
Let’s rewind the tape, and go back to the Spanish empire in the late 1500s, specifically to the empire’s trading hub in Manila.
To oversimplify, the Spanish were doing a brisk, and highly profitable, business with their Chinese trading partners. But they needed laborers, so Chinese peasants began arriving in waves, and didn’t stop. The Spaniards eventually felt threatened and, when conflict erupted they banned the Chinese and slaughtered them by the tens of thousands (the Chinese fought back).
Horrific, no doubt. But this didn’t happen just once. The cycle repeated itself again and again over decades, despite the perceived risks on both sides. In the end, it simply didn’t matter: the Spaniards needed the labor force and the Chinese needed to improve their lives. So they kept on coming.
And this is the lesson that Americans have to learn. The influx of illegal immigrants will stop, perhaps, some day, but only when it isn’t worthwhile for people to uproot themselves and risk life and limb to sneak across the border.
That day is further away then many an anti-immigrant advocate would like because of the rotten governments and elites the US has fostered in Central America for ages.
There is no US remedy, no matter how draconian, that will stem the flow for long.
So, America, enjoy the Fourth of July, and welcome the new residents, because they’re here to stay.