Our VoiceImmigration

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Guest Blogger • Dec 23, 2010

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”

With Christmas a mere week away, Ebenezer Scrooge, or rather the US Senate, voted down the DREAM act.  A Scrooge will be a Scrooge, however, and apparently the U.S. Senate is trying its hardest to live up to the miserly portrait that Charles Dickens so masterfully painted for his Christmas antagonist.  With nothing but the kindest of holiday cheer, and keeping with the metaphor, allow me to play the part of all three Ghosts, affording the U.S. Senators a glimpse of immigration past, present, and future.

Ghost of Immigrants Past

Following the Great Famine and widespread political tyranny, millions of Irish emigrants came to the United States at the end of the 19th century, sparking widespread xenophobia and antipathy towards immigrants.  One reaction to this migration was the Know Nothings, a racist political party that was inherently anti-immigrant, specifically anti-Irish, and anti-Catholic.

When Chinese immigrants came in droves to the US, they too were met with extreme hostility.  After suffering severe work conditions while constructing the First Transcontinental Railroad, xenophobia won again and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was passed, the first and only piece of legislature to explicitly ban one group of immigrants.

And again, when millions of southern and eastern Europeans began to immigrate to the US, the Immigration Restriction League was formed as an effort to curtail the number of people seeking a new life in this country.

Other racially motivated legislature came to pass as well.  In 1921 the National Origins Act was passed.  This gave preference to northern and western European immigrants, limited the number of eastern and southern European immigrants, and completely excluded Asian immigrants.

Ghost of Immigrants Present

With the number of immigrants entering the US returning to late 1800 and early 1900’s volume, racially-based legislature again threatens the well-being of millions of individuals bringing their rich cultural heritage to an already diverse nation.  Take SB 1070, a racist piece of legislature drafted by anti-immigrant group FAIR, for example.

Ghost of Immigrants Future

In a nation where xenophobic legislation and political action historically take precedent, it’s not exactly shocking that the DREAM Act failed to pass.  Sad, but not shocking.  I wish to remind the Senators that voted against the DREAM Act, that when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come visited Ebenezer Scrooge, he came in the visage of the grim reaper.  The Ghost showed Scrooge his grave stone and the not-so-favorable remembrances held by the public.

So, Senators, at this time next year will you still desire to deprive those in need and want of better opportunities for themselves and their families? Or will you find it in your hearts to extend a warm greeting to America’s future?

Your political futures may depend on it.

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