We Are All Immigrants (Forever)

How many times to people have to have the concept of immigration and assimilation explained to them. I can’t believe that I have to spend 5% of my life reminding people that we were all immigrants at one point. At one point Irish and Italians were looked down upon. At another Japanese and Chinese immigrants. And now it is Mexicans in particular and Latinos in general. What the hell?

Have the last 300 years shown absolutely goddamned nothing? Let’s take Chinese immigration as a simple example. Here’s a pamphlet published in 1902:

Effects of the Geary Act.

The effects of Chinese exclusion have been most advantageous to the State. The 75,000 Chinese residents of California in 1880 have been reduced, according to the last census, to 45,000; and whereas the settlement of California by Caucasians had been arrested prior to the adoption of these laws, a healthy growth of the State in population has marked the progress of recent years. Every material interest of the State has advanced, and prosperity has been our portion. Were the restriction laws relaxed we are convinced that our working population would be displaced, and the noble structure of our State, the creation of American ideas and industry, would be imperiled, if not destroyed. The lapse of time has only confirmed your memorialists in their conviction, from their knowledge derived from actually coming in contact with the Chinese, that they are a nonassimilative race, and by every standard of thought, undesirable as citizens. Although they have been frequently employed and treated with decent consideration ever since the enactment of the exclusion law in 1882, which was the culmination and satisfaction of California’s patriotic purpose, they have not in any sense altered their racial characteristics, and have not, socially or otherwise, assimilated with our people.

1902 American Federation of Labor (AFL) Pamphlet

The Chinatown in San Francisco still exists. However, can anyone argue that Chinese immigrants have not integrated into the community? The Chinese immigrant population, like every other immigrant population, started out localized to a few areas and over the course of two to three generations it slowly broadens out into a culture that is broadly integrated with American society in general. Sure, they celebrate Chinese New Year in the spring but Catholics have to cross themselves all the time and which of those is more bewildering to me on a daily basis?

Do you want to live in a world without Chinese food? I hope not. Can we survive a world without Mexican food? Highly unlikely. Burritos are an essential component of my life as are tacos, mole sauce, tamales, and sopapillas.

I want one concrete example of someone who was laid off for an illegal immigrant. You were denied the chance to be a busboy? Your lifelong dream of cross-country truck driving? What, exactly? Mexicans might live in their own neighborhoods right now but soon, very soon, they will be just another part of American society. In all honesty, you can spend the next fifty years of your life muttering quietly about shifty Mexicans or you can be glad there is finally someone who can teach you how to make decent tacos.

They Might Be Giants said it rather catchily,

This is where the party ends
I can’t stand here listening to you
And your racist friend
I know politics bore you
But I feel like a hypocrite talking to you
And your racist friend

And finally, enjoy a crazy punk cover mp3 here (by Australian pop-punk band Bodyjar) courtesy this TMBG fanblog.

12 thoughts on “We Are All Immigrants (Forever)”

  1. I tried to move to a comment friendly ending after what was otherwise a stereoptyical angry rant

  2. Assimilation didn’t work in the 80s when Reagan did it! Our culture has been decimated by all those illegals that were made citizens and taxpayers…wait, something is completely screwed up about that sentiment.

    I think the idea that the nuts have of rounding up 11 million people and shipping them out is hilarious.

  3. I was born in Vienna, Austria. I was born an American citizen, however. Depending on how you read the Constitution, I am either electable or unelectable for President.* Let’s ratify that change and let me be the Philosopher King!

    *Of course, depending on which state of mind I am in, I am also either electable or unelectable. Either way, I am still going to be an awesome President.

  4. “…one need not have to make a utilitarian argument for the worth of an entire swath of humanity…”

    Nitpick: one should not need to. Unfortunately, without such a back up (and this goes for the fight over hate crimes legislation and abortion and any number of other hot button issues), one cannot get the much-needed sociopath vote.

  5. Chuckie, I thought if you had a parent either stationed in the military or working for the Federal Gov’t, they allow you to become President if you were born elsewhere so long as your parent is a US citizen. Is that not correct? I have no idea having been born in the US to American parents*.

    *I think UC is using me for green card status.

  6. Nice post, fulsome. I have to take umbrage with Pinko, however, in that the taco (and its burrito brother) is arguably the greatest cultural contribution of any American immigrant group.

    But the Chinese and Mexican cusine talk made me think that I should invent the General Tso’s Burrito.

  7. AG, it all depends on your interpretation of the constitution. No doubt my opponent will use this against me after I win by the largest margin in 50 years.

  8. Brando, I think if you read his comment carefully he does not make that claim. If he does, however, you are right and we will have to declare fatwa on him and his “Italian Beef” crusade.

    Most importantly, however, I wish you luck on your culinary creation.

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