What? Nothin’ better to do?
Why don’t you kick yourself out
You’re an immigrant too.”
– Jack White
The above lyrics from the 2007 hit “Icky Thump” remind me of the oft-repeated notion that the only people who are not immigrants are the Native Americans.
But then immigrants have always taken the scapegoat beating.
Before there was even a United States of America, Ben Franklin warned his fellow British colonists about the “ignorant” Germans in the 1700s.
The Chinese were rewarded for building our railroads in the 1800s with a law that forbade them to immigrate legally to the United States until its repeal in the 1940s.
The 20th Century was notable for Help Wanted newspaper advertisements like the one I saw not long ago in a museum, with the infamous language “No Irish Need Apply.”
And today, Hispanics continue to suffer discrimination, along with many other ethnic groups, as we await immigration reform.
The last true immigration reform occurred under Ronald Reagan some thirty years ago.
Two and a half years ago, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a leader of the 1960s civil rights movement, compared the protests of undocumented immigrants to that of African Americans, decades before.
Rep. Lewis noted that he was arrested dozens of times while working alongside Martin Luther King Jr. He told a crowd of immigrants: “I was beaten, left bloody, but I didn’t give up and you must not give up.”
So we will not give up.
We wait again – apparently until 2014 – as Congress gets ready to close out a year that should have seen the House of Representatives join the Senate which actually passed a sweeping immigration reform bill in June.
However, that Bill with its bipartisan support, now looks very similar to the efforts of Senators McCain and Kennedy in the mid-2000s, which were strongly endorsed by then-President Bush, who also pushed hard for a Guest Worker law.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ― Nelson Mandela