Permanent Underclass: Why Illegal Aliens Should Have The Right To Vote
You are the average American. You may own a home, have a career that pays you decent money for the work you are asked to complete, and can raise a family without living in fear that you will never see them again. You may have even constructed a white fence around you property and own a cute dog that you take the vet once a month. If this describes you, you are a successful member of the middle class. Congratulations on your success.
If I were to tell you that there were at least over 20–30 million slaves in America today would you believe me? How would you define a slave? If you can’t own property in your name, you can’t vote, can’t attend public schools, don’t have access to a fair trial, and constantly have to fear being kidnapped are you a slave? Believe it or not there was once a time in America where you were free to travel without being questioned at a checkpoint. Where you were allowed to free associate or look for work with no paperwork or documents. Where there was no walls because we tore those down. Those days are over in the 21st century. That is the scorched reality of millions of people living and working in America today that need a voice.
In 2016 who would soon be President Donald Trump campaigned on draining the swamp of drug infested crime and rapists infesting the nation. We would save our country from the Mexican invasion by constructing a big beautiful wall that stretched out longer than China. We would deport every alien taking advantage of our tax dollars and gaining the system. The face of the monster immigrant was engrained in everyone’s conscious. This was the new language that every working class white American wanted to hear from a new kind of leader. They had found the new enemy.
Coming off from an economic collapse in 2009, many working class Americans continued to struggle finding jobs and making the same wages they had made before the recession. Saddam Hussien was defeated and America was tired of more war. “Radical Islam” did not have the same buzz it had in 2001 and America needed a new public enemy to blame. However this goes back much farther than the Trump White House, and even much farther than the 2009 recession. This has been a systematic racist problem throughout history, so let me take you on a little history lesson about why we have so many undocumented immigrants to begin with.
History Of Early Immigrants (1600’s-1800’s)
What does the illegal immigrants problem America faces today have to do with King George? We have to go back to colonial times to understand what is taking place right now in front of our eyes before it is too late.
You have to remeber that the United Kingdom was originally a monarchy and hence the name “kingdom”. What that meant was if you owed any debt to the kingdom, you owed your life to the crown and were considered a peasant. These peasants to the crown were either thrown in dungeons for being poor, or they signed an agreement that made them indentured servants that were used as slave labor.
So when King George The III realizede that Britain’s prison population was growing too large, he realized an opportunity in a new land. We would construct the 13 colonies that would be used for the planation of labor. The kingdom considered this a major investment, and new immigrants were willing to line up for a chance at starting a new life for their family.
Many history books refer to the name “pilgrim” but that is historically innacurate. These families that arrived at the new land were really working for the crown as indentured servents. From the 17th century to the 19th century, over half of America’s immigrants arrived as indentured servants belong to the separatists movement. Their debt would be purchased by their masters, and they would work for no pay until the master decided they had earned enough completed labor to be freed. These servants worked alongside slaves including woman on cotton and tobacco fields.
The only difference between indentured servitude and the slave trade was that you knew that one day you would eventually be freed by contract. Also since you were white you were probably sometimes treated a lot better. However the big understanding we need to get from this is that when we fought the Revolutionary War and won, we escaped servitude from the royal kingdom. The rebellion was lead by peasant farmers and factory workers who wanted to escape oppression.
So when indentured servitude was phased out in the 18th century and Americans rebelled against the British Empire, the 13 colonies switched to the African slave trade for working farms. The peak of the African slave trade was from 1830–1860. So powerful that we had to go to war with ourselves to end it and bring the union back together. Slavery was that essential to the American economy at this time. Until eventually 3.9 million slaves would be freed and given full voting rights.
We would go onto to continue this rebellion as we expanded out west. When we defeated the Spanish Empire in 1848, we signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War that gave us Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. What this treaty did is so very important because we could learn a lesson from this today. Over 80,000 Hispanic migrants were given full and immediate citizenship by President James K. Polk, and each family were given housing through homesteads and adopted into the first public schools.
Immigration up until the 20th century was actually a more reletivly fast process. You showed up at Ellis Island, you filled out paperwork as border agents looked at your passports, then they maybe changed your last name and you were given full citizenship in many cases in under five hours. From 1850–1930, 5 million Germans, 4.5 million Irish, 4 million Italians, and 1.5 million Poles entered through ports like Ellis Island with no understanding of the english language and with no money in their pocket. All of these immigrants were given the right to vote immediately, even if they were not full citizens yet. With the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty, many viewed the United States as a symbol of hope as did the original colonists.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” — Statue Of Liberty poem by Emma Lazarus (1883)
Historically over 40 states in history have given illegal aliens the right to vote. The right for new immigrants and non citizens to vote was actually protected in a Supreme Court ruling Minor v. Happersett (1887), in which the SCOTUS ruled that “Citizenship has not in all cases been made a condition precedent to the enjoyment of the right of suffrage. Thus, in Missouri and other places, persons of foreign birth, who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, may under certain circumstances vote.” This was long before the United States government made this a crime.
Before modern times there were actually many accepted languages spoken in America. In the 18th and 19th century most of the immigrants coming over from Europe were German. By the early 1900’s, over half of the American population had German ancestry. America’s first Speaker Of The House spoke in German, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and they even almost made a Germanic version of the Constitution when they founded the country. Although back then it wasn’t called “German” it was called Dutch. There were English variants of Dutch spoken in all of the original 13 colonies. This was nationally accpted.
There was actually a group similar to the modern Tea Party movement called the “Know Nothings”. Mockingly referred to as the “Know-Nothings”, they were actually the Native American Party. Anglo-Saxon protestants in the Democratic Party attempted to stop a new wave of Irish and Italian Catholic immigrants that were looking to settling in cities. They feared that Catholics were going to enslave their own people again. Their movement failed to garner enough support as it was quickly realized that immigration was benefiting the United States instead of hurting it.
Towards the end of the 19th century America started targeting fear and hatred into a new group of people. Not Africans Americans that were now free men, but in particular the color red. A host of new laws signed by Presidents after Lincoln including Indian Appropriations Act (1871), and Dawes Act (1887 General Allotment) delegitimized the contracts we had signed with every native tribe since the beginning of our country, and sold surplus Indian land to new white settlers. This followed by Commissioner of Indian Affairs William Atkinson Jones sending an order to all reservations that superintendents must force resident to cut their long hair and forced them to adopt Christianity. Tribes that refused were stripped of federal recognition and in modern times thousands of tribes are still unrecognized. The fear had now shifted away from slaves on the plantation to indigenous culture and the families that wanted to immigrate into new borders that refused to be relocated to reservations. This was just the start.
Mid Century Racism (1920–1980)
The 20th century was really an interesting time period of a new founded xenophobia and oppression not just in America but around the world. You had Nazism rising throughout Europe, and communism rising in Asia with giant walls surrounding Soviet borders. At the same time you had a new hatred towards Japanese and Germans in America, and the rise of the Klu Klux Klan in the early 20th century with Presidents endorsing eugenics.
During this time period America’s multiculturalism was destroyed and removed by government decree. Not many people look back at history and understand that Americans during colonial times spoke many languages other than English. German and Gaeilge was commonly spoken in schools and by American politicians. City streets at one point in our history displayed billboards and advertisements in Dutch. The Klu Klux Klan set out to eliminate any signs of culture that drifted away from the protestant church. We also saw the formation of the first white only country clubs.
Their new goal was to keep America Anglo-Saxon. It was sort of the opposing response to the enormous immigration that occurred a century before. They feared Catholicism and Judaism and the civil rights movements with black and native communities. For the first time it was becoming common to see hundreds of thousands of klansmen marching on Washington and even members in Congress and the Senate every month.
What happened was Woodrow Wilson and World War 1. Starting in 1919 and onward it became against the law to speak German in public in many places during those times, or to be suspected as a spy and face fines or imprisonment. German products were banned from shopping centers across the country. Signs in German and advertisements were removed from American cities and streets. In the early 20th century, the worst thing you could be suspected of being was German. Speaking your native language was frowned upon so many families learned english to protect themselves, even though prior to World War I Dutch was popularly spoken across the United States and in schools across America.
So in the 1920’s and going forward into the 1940’s, it was very unpopular to speak the language of the enemy. For the first time, America was fighting wars overseas. Some communities refused to give up their native language, and today they are known as the Amish in Pennsylvania. German to this day is still not commonly taught in schools anymore because of the stigmatism.
The same onset happened with Irish immigrants. The Irish Civil War that took place from 1922–1923 made Irish culture extremely unpopular in America. Many Irish immigrants feared losing their jobs and homes for choosing sides. This was associated with speaking in Gaelic. During the bloodshed immigration from Ireland was completely halted. Many families were broken up from the civil war and told they couldn’t revisit again.
We also moved into a new era of forced eugenics on black prisoners. However the first targeted minorities would come to an end when President Calvin Coolidge gave every indigenous tribe full citizenship in 1925. This followed with indigenous people being accepted into the military. This upset the Klu Klux Klan which then started the “half-breed” campaign, which later on would lead to many violent armed battles fought in America. One of the more famous examples being the Battle Of Hayes Pond. In 1926 Arkansas became the last state to ban new migrants from voting.
Then in 1941 President Roosevelt was pressured to act after the Japanese carried out the first attack ever on American soil. He started a complete campaign against the free association of Japanese immigrants. We all know the history by now. On February 19, 1942 FDR announced the prosecution of all Japanese Americans regardless of citizenship status by EO: 9066. Businesses were looted and shut down, families lost their homes and bank accounts, and entire generations were thrown in internment camps for the remaining years of the war on the west coast and lost all voting rights. When the war was over many permanently lost their businesses.
Campaign advertisements were placed in major cities of America to report your Japanese neighbor. Cartoons were shown on television depicting stereotypes of Japanese and also German fighters. Political pundits used the turmoil left over from widespread poverty under a depression, to fuel that anger towards a newer enemy abroad. It would not be until 1988 that an official apology to Japanese Americans took place in the form of reparations, but during this era we also found a new enemy among us.
During World War II we also refused to accept Jewish and Italian immigrants from Europe into America, an act that would later be a dark spot in political history. Many of the Jewish immigrants that were sent back to Europe likely knew they would not survive under the Hitler regime. Italian immigrants seeking asylum during the war were viewed as enemy aliens and also rounded up in internment camps alongside the Japanese. During this time many companies refused to hire Italians, or in many cases even refused to accept Italian customers for fear associated with Mussolini.
After we won the war the Japanese were no longer the enemy and a greater movement from Anglo-America pushed to go after another minority. During the 1930’s something happened in America and that was the advent of jazz musicians in the southern regions of the country. A plant was being brought over to America and used for recreation and becoming extremely popular among Hispanic workers and artists. Yes my friends that plant was reefer madness, and under Franklin Roosevelt cannabis was renamed “marihuana” and made illegal in the year 1937. These years formed the laws that would enable new programs such as border patrol and counter narcotics units under the FBI. It gave new power to question Hispanics walking on the street and search them for drugs by police departments.
America’s new enemy after the war were Hispanics, as the Hispanic population was quickly growing in America and by the mid 20th century white Anglo-Saxon communities started to panic and wanted a President to act. In 1954 President “Ike” Eisenhower passed a legislation known as “Operation Wetback” which would be the first legislation of its kind. Eisenhower hired cowboys and ranchers throughout the West Coast to roundup as many Hispanics as they could find that were working on farms. All together there were 1.3 million Hispanics living in America that were sent back on ships in cages to another part of the world on the Southern Mexico border with no food or money and families still living back in the United States. Even if you didn’t speak Spanish you were at risk of deportation. This was the first idea implanted of kidnap and release programs. From 1955–1962 the number of border patrol agents at the border doubled. For the second time in American history we were criminalizing an entire race of people.
During most of the 20th century only Europeans were allowed to legally immigrate to America. Tens of millions of new Hispanics were living in the United States, but they were doing so only under illegal terms. This greatly benefited the largest manufacturing plants in the country that would use Hispanics for cheap and illegal labor. No one wanted to legalize an entire race again, since companies and farmers could no longer use African slaves. This caught the eye of one politician in particular which was Bobby Kennedy and Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts. In the 1960’s Bobby Kennedy took tours across the country with union labor rights activist Cesar Chavez. Working with labor unions at the first half of the 20th century, to give migrants higher wages and safer working conditions.
Labor unions were allowed to negotiate contracts with cities that they had to hire only union workers, and for the first time farm workers had the right to go on strike. During mid century America unions were at their highest point of power, with over 50% of the private sector engaged in organized labor. This was during a time when farms and factories across the country were being exposed for harboring indentured servants and slavery in the 1960 television documentary Harvest Of Shame by Edward R. Murrow. Yes my friends, slavery had continued into the 20th century and Americans were too ashamed to admit what was going on.
This sparked newfound support for immigration reform, which under President Johnson signed Ted Kennedy’s bill into law in 1965. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 for the first time legalized a new race of people in America, which now said you would have the means to immigrate legally into this country after we made it illegal under Eisenhower and Roosevelt who setup the nation’s first border and drug controls. In every sense of the world, Hispanics could now become natural born citizens. This would be the last piece of serious immigration reform that would ever be accomplished. It had seemed like we were making progress. In the modern era we have regressed backwards.
As we know Robert F. Kennedy never made it into the White House, and Richard Nixon would win the hearts of America in 1969. He won on a campaign promise to bring law and order to the streets of America, which was getting tough on drug addiction and crime. For the first time since the 19th century Mexican-American wars, Richard Nixon closed down Mexico’s border and halted all immigration within his first year in office.
It was during this time when the Drug Enforcement Administration was formed. Nixon attempted to try and cut off supplies of Mexican weed under “Operation Intercept” in 1969 photographed below but it was completely unsuccessful. Prior to 1969 Mexico was a very common destination spot for Americans but this would change drastically after the 70’s. Then in 1970 in response to Kennedy’s immigration reform, the Nixon administration passed the Population Research Act which promoted the sterilization of Hispanics and indigenous tribes to prevent a new race of natural born citizens. He then ordered that US government aid in spraying poison over marijuana fields in Mexico with Paraquat Operation Clearview in 1975 which continued into the Reagan administration. This was only the beginning of the racist war that would haunt the next decade.
Now we step towards the end of the mid century. We have to understand that before this point, crossing the Mexican border into the United States was not a crime. It was a crime if you were transporting drugs, but before the Reagan administration it was once common to walk freely between the two borders. In fact Mexico was a common destination spot in the 1960’s and 70’s. There were zero immigration courts, zero private prisons, and zero checkpoints. Travel was once considered a right of passage for all humans, and you didn’t need papers for a foreigner to obtain employment.
Now we move into the 1980’s though and America is getting tough on crime. The Reagan administration steps up the war on drugs and catch and release deportations. States that went on to decriminalize marijuana went back to criminalizing it. During the Reagan administration it was once common practice to be picked up in a “dog catching” type van in the middle of the night, and driven and released in the middle of a Mexican desert. Reagan helped setup the first immigrant detention centers in the country in the form of private prisons, and the first border checkpoints through ICE. We were in effect criminalizing a behavior that was never illegal.
It got so incredibly bad that American citizens were being mistakenly deported, which inspired the Cheech Marin movie “Born In East LA” was was a true story. From 1980–1990 the number of incarcerated individuals grew by 300%, and many mistakenly believe that President Reagan actually was a progressive when it came to immigration reform and reaching across the aisle. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is commonly sighted as an important piece of landmark legislation, but people often forget the second word in the title. The 1986 immigration reform made it illegal for the first time in American history for migrants living in the United States to legally work without an approved green card.
Reagan made it so that any company in the United States would be fined and punished if they were caught hiring undocumented immigrants. Instead of giving migrants a platform for more job rights and better working conditions, it further pushed immigrant communities into the shadows. This was paired with forced drug tests at the workplace to weed out immigrants. By criminalizing a behavior that was never illegal to begin with, we have pushed a legitimate piece of our economy into the black market. This piece of legislation has not stopped companies from hiring illegal work. The vision of Cesar Chavez was that migrant workers should be protected by the minimum wage and gain access to adequate healthcare, and be a respected part of the workforce. Instead we have the opposite.
Finally in 1987 Reagan gave legal amnesty to 3 million children and families, only because the immigration reform bill set them up for deportation by making these families law breakers. Reagan had to cover his tracks. The Washington Post reported in 2014 that only a quarter of the migrants given amnesty IRCA ended up applying for citizenship. In other words citizenship is not what these migrants want and that should be okay. Granting citizenship is not a the solution. Maybe the better question would be asking, why is it a crime not to be a citizen in the first place? Should government have the power to make travel a crime?
This era was completed by Reagan’s Vice Present called the Solomon–Lautenberg amendment in 1990, which tried to convince states to take licenses away from minorities being arrested on drug charges by slashing federal funding for highways. 37 states refused to adopt the laws, and eventually increased to 45 states opting out as of the year 2020. Still Texas, Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Arkansas continue to enforce it.
Recent Immigration History (1992–2014)
At this point in history the country was heading into an entirely opposite direction from where it was headed just two decades before. At the end of the 1960’s progressive leadership began rising up and demanding better working rights. LBJ declared a “war on poverty” with the Office Of Economic Opportunity for new immigrants that Reagan would later shut down. We had leaders such as Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern and Jimmy Carter that promised to give these people a voice and more power. We were on the verge of decriminalizing marijuana entirely in 1977 and putting an end to the historically racist war on drugs. What happened was a counter movement in both the Democratic Party and Republican Party.
“Tale Of Two Cities” Mario Cuomo failed to rise to power when he had the chance, and progressive Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy never was able to compete against Ronald Reagan in the general election. With a divided progressive movement we failed again to nominate Gary Hart of Colorado that vowed to “legalize marijuana”, and the final progressive attempt at immigration reform was with former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis in 1988. Instead for over a decade we experienced a rise in religious and conservative extremism that just a decade before would have been viewed as unfathomable. In that same time period we saw a 20% drop in wages and a 35% drop in the minimum wage. This was really a backlash to the progressive era of civil rights activism in the 1950’s and 60's.
So when it came to the 1992 elections it would be of no surprise that a conservative Governor from the state of Arkansas would rise to the nomination of the Democratic Party. William J. Clinton would campaign on “getting tough on crime” and “getting tough at the border.” Americans didn’t want to hear about loosening the freedom to smoke the devil’s lettuce or giving more rights to foreign invaders during an economic recession. This was topped with Tea Party member Gingrich leading the Congress.
“Americans are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold should be held by American citizens.” — President Bill Clinton (1995 SOTU)
During the mid 1990’s Bill Clinton pledged to hire a record number of new border guards, and went on to deport twice the amount of immigrants of any other administration in history, and increased the crackdown on new immigrants working jobs. He successfully passed the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which for the first time introduced federal criminal punishment for foreigners casting a vote and harsh fines for states. Prior to this many migrants at one point in history could cast votes in local elections. This was at a time when the border patrol’s budget from 1992–2000 was increased by 300%. During this time we also setup the nation’s first highway stops in the country, where federal agents and police officers were given the right to ask for legal papers while traveling on American roads. Sort of like USSR?
This was in addition to the new Crime Bill passed in 1994, and the 1033 Program in 1997 which gave police officers across the country new financial incentives to ask for immigration papers and enforce the war on marijuana. Marijuana arrests from 1992–2000 jumped by 300%, and budgets for local police departments to enforce immigration laws increased substantially. This led to progressive governors defying Clinton’s new agenda with a rise in controversial sanctuary cities in the 80’s and 90’s, that pledged to protect immigrants right to work and provide for their families by telling police departments they could not ask for immigration status.
In 1997 Clinton also introduced the Basic Pilot Program computer hiring system in six states across major businesses in America, to create a digitally systemic crackdown on illegal hiring in the workforce for the first time in American history. It would later be renamed E-Verify and deployed in all 50 states, which forces migrants to commit Social Security fraud for work.
Perhaps the most ironic part of this was that just years prior the American people were criticizing the Soviets for having immigration checkpoints and asking for paperwork while traveling. We really adopted many of the same policies the Soviets practiced after their collapse, which we would have never imagined would be possible in America just a decade prior. However the 90’s was only the beginning of the slow trend towards a police state.
In the year 2000 you had former vice President to the Clinton administration Al Gore nominated for the Democratic Party, and very conservative Governor of Texas and son of the Reagan establishment George W. Bush nominated on the Republican side. America was not sure what we were going to get, but all hope was lost for honest negotiation and bipartisan immigration reform after the year 2001 when 19 hijackers on expired VISAs crashed planes into the World Trade Center and murdered 2,977 Americans. If at any point in history when Americans wanted to get tough on crime, this was perhaps the peak of hysteria and fear in the trade of freedom for security. This was going to be a brave new world.
Bush responded by opening Guantanamo Bay as a prison in 2002 that would serve as a center for torturing immigrants who were suspected of terrorism without due process or the right to a fair trial. In 2003 ICE was born under the guise of a new department called Homeland Security, determined to be the new law enforcement that was keeping America safe from future “terrorism” at the border and abroad. For the first time in American history, border agents were deployed in cities across America conducting raids on private homes and splitting up families. Undercover ICE agents were placed at factories and farms through America, deporting immigrants who were working to feed their families.
From 2001–2008 the amount of immigrants deported doubled again. Pew research reports that in that time period, 64% of deportations were non criminal. However also bear in mind, if you were caught with a joint in your pocket that would make you a criminal in the eyes of the law. George Bush also introduced new controversial border patrol technologies such as ultrasonic weapons and the redeployment of tear gas.
In 2006 George Bush approved the first major modern border wall, spanning 14 miles at the Diego–Tijuana border by declaring eminent domain on private property through the Bureau Of Land Management. These border walls have been of grave controversy as many families had lost access to family members that live on the other side of the fence. Many ranchers of Mexican decent lost half of their property and land value. In 2017 USA Today did a story on how border walls have effected minority home owners.
America really was becoming a former shell of itself in terms of freedom of travel, and the right to free associate as an immigrant in the land of the free. For the first time in American history you could no longer walk down the road without being surveilled. You could not talk on the phone without being monitored. Everyone that walked and talked like a terrorist, probably was a terrorist. Cartoons of Arab and Hispanic enemies were shown on television programs similar to the days of fighting Japanese and Germans. Perhaps we saw no other time period where liberties were more trampled upon, and immigrants with darker skins colors were more feared by both sides of political discourse. However a new hope was on the horizon. The progressive left which had dealt the blow of a two term Bush presidency was determined to come back into power and the season was ripe.
The year was 2008. America was getting tired of fighting out in Iraq and Afghanistan. This followed the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression of 8.8 million jobs, which hurt minority communities larger than anyone. The working class wanted to be more inclusive again. They were getting tired of enforcing a racist drug war at the border and started looking at marijuana as drug to decriminalize again. by 2008 19 states had either legalized medical marijuana or decriminalized. Immigrant rights organizations started gaining power and saw a new leader that could represent brown and black Americans into a new era of progress.
That man was Barack Hussein Obama. He was young, he would rise up to become the first black man to be nominated by any political party, and he was thought to be the first progressive nominee to have a solid chance at getting into the White House since Jimmy Carter. Immigrants, minorities, civil rights organizations, environmental organizations, labor unions all rallied in support of HOPE. Hope would go on to be Obama’s campaign slogan as he promised bold change. Such as the closing of Guantanamo Bay. His desire to give permanent amnesty to every immigrant in the nation for a path to citizenship. His desire to stop mass deportation at the border and defund border patrol. His promise to reform drug laws and criminal justice.
This hope and dream came true when on January 20, 2009, Obama would become the first black President ever to be sworn into office. I remember watching his inauguration at school and skipped lunch to stay by the television set because I was so fascinated with his message. I truly felt that we were on the right path as a country, and we were banding together for a better ideal. The entire country felt this hope taking place.
Unfortunately it did not turn out as expected, because as soon as President Obama stepped into office the signals started to change. The Obama administration went on to fire his entire staff of grassroots volunteers, and hired a record number of lobbyists into his inner circle. You can read an amazing story about what took place on the article I highlighted below.
During he two terms immigration reform groups rallied every year in front of the White House and faced mass arrests by the Obama administration, who later faced deportations after they had a criminal record. This received very little media coverage or concern during his time in the White House. Mostly because the Democratic Party favored stronger borders as well as the Republican Party. Little did we ask are we dehumanizing a race?
His promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay faded into the wind. His promise to ease up on mass deportations and pass sweeping immigration reform, when Democrats held the majority in Congress and Senate from 2007–2011 never happened. Instead the colder reality would come to fruition that the opposite would be taking place.
In 2012 President Obama did one huge move that shocked Republicans, and that was signing DACA after both parties refused to pass the Dreamers Act. This temporarily shielded new immigrants from deportation. Many had hoped this would be the first step towards giving immigrants new rights. However the executive order could be undone by future Presidents, and it was weak in language for allowing immigrants permanent residence.
In terms of deportations and increase in border patrol agents, President Obama deported more immigrants and increased more border agents than any President in American history up until that point. While Democrats held the majority in both the House and Senate, from 2009–2013 we saw a 20% increase in mass deportations. All together throughout Obama’s two terms he deported a record number 2.9 million immigrants. 57% of those deportations were non criminal families. By 2013 there were 21,391 border patrol agents, an increase of 22% from 2008. During that same time period Obama increased border patrol’s budget by nearly 70%.
At the same time marijuana arrests from 2009–2016 only decreased by 8% according to FBI, and by the end of Obama’s presidency even medical marijuana was still considered a schedule 1 narcotic. After Colorado passed legalization in 2012, Obama watched over the Drug Enforcement Agency raiding 247 Colorado homes, and seizing more than 80,000 plants in one state alone. Which included the bank accounts of legal operations. In Obama’s first three years in office, he conducted 100 raids on legal dispensaries in full compliance with state laws. The raids were conducted disproportionally in minority communities out west.
Ironically the President that is criticized by the right for “promoting open borders” and “communism”, in all reality was the most expansive President in history when it came to deportations and increase in immigration and drug checkpoints across America. For some reason the far right and religious extremism was brewing a new comeback that had not been seen since the Reagan administration. The new rebirth of the Tea Party movement with leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. They were determined to rise again in the White House in a revenge fashion that would set us off into another era into the early 20’s of the 21st century. No one on both sides could predict what was to become in the next election.
Era Of Trumpism (2015-Today)
Enter the year 2015. America was nearing the end of two terms of the Obama administration. We had just went through the slowest economic recovery in American history since the Great Depression. A deep populism was taking root not just in this country, but also around the world as we have to remember the American recession also affected the world economy. There was a movement growing in United Kingdom to seriously consider leaving the European Union. Far right leaders around the world were beginning to rise up such as Jair Bolsonar and Rodrigo Duterte. Tensions between America and Russia were at worse terms than at any point since the Cold War, and working class Americans witnessed what happened to their bank accounts under the gigantic transfer of wealth taking place.
The realities were that the largest financial institutions in America were bailed out as a reward for crashing the economy, as close to ten million Americans lost their homes during the recession. The Obama administration was promoting trade deals such as Trans-Pacific-Partnership that hurt blue collar American manufacturing jobs, and we were getting close to a large distrust and disrespect of our public institutions we had not seen since the 1960’s. This populism branched out into two very different sides, that had two very different opposing ideas for how the future of our country aught to look like. This would define the 2016 election.
On one side you had an independent Senator from Vermont that was promoting openness and unity. On another side you had a Realestate tycoon promoting fear and division, and it was this division he banked on.
The new headliner of the movement would be a strange choice, but a man that went by the name of Donald J. Trump. Yes the Realestate tycoon that did not attend church or read the bible, was the leader of the evangelical movement that was formed to retaliate against the Obama administration. Even though Obama was in many fashions even more conservative than Reagan. That did not matter as showman tactics meant that words were more powerful than actions. Trump was the master salesmen.
At the beginning of the campaign season he announced his run for office on the long ride down the escalator in Trump Tower. His words spoken into the microphone would become a slogan for the Trump movement.
“They‘re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. Some I assume are good people“ — Donald Trump (2015 Campaign Announcement)
Americans were willing to give up an even greater amount of rights, to solve a problem that really didn’t exist in the first place. There was not an increase immigrants entering our country. Illegal immigrants were not a burden on the American taxpayer. Immigrants were not taking jobs away from Americans. Yet a vast swoop of conservative America ate up his dogma and rallied around him in arenas across the nation. “Make America Great Again” whatever that meant was determined to be accomplished. Donald Trump was destined to save America from the mythical boogyman with darker skin tones that were invading our great nation.
It was humorous to watch because no one thought the American people would take such a message seriously. At the same time there was an even farther left progressive movement that was rising in the Democratic Party, that was considered a backlash to the Obama administration. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont began rallying behind new rights for immigrants in a way that had never been discussed before. Sanders strategy was using his energy to criticize and attack members of his own party.
However the Democratic Party was truly divided in the 2016 election, and in many ways parallel to the 1968 election. Democrats rioted the DNC convention in Philadelphia to the tune of 5,000+ in attendance to protest the nominee. Just like in 1968 when the silent majority rose up to elect Richard Nixon, they rose up in many blue states to support a Trump presidency. If it wasn’t in support, it was in protest of Hillary Clinton from both sides which represented a repeat of the Obama administration. However, no one actually knew if Trump was only bluffing on the campaign trail. The reality turned into a much more brittle disturbance.
Within one month in office, President Donald Trump banned all “muslim nations” from entering the United States borders, marking the first time we would turn our back on all refugees from entering since WWII. This was challenged by the courts, but the Supreme Court stacked with conservatives chosen by Trump eventually upheld the ban in his favor. He then claimed he was going to build a wall that was bigger than anything we had ever seen before to keep out the “immigrant convoy”, which never ended up actually happening because of lawsuits from private land owners. By the summer of 2017 Trump had revoked DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) which would have protected 700,000 immigrant families from deportation who were brought here illegally under no choice of their own as children.
Then in the spring of 2018 Trump started a new immigration policy that had never been tried before he labeled “zero tolerance”. When immigrant families were coming across the border they would automatically be criminally detained for three months under no circumstances, and for the first time children would be separated from the mother and father. This sparked outrage from both sides of the aisle as images of mothers crying for their daughters and sons were broadcast on television and newspapers. Trump officially ended the program the summer of 2018. However The New York Times later found that the program had secretly been in practice as early as summer of 2017 and continued until the fall of 2019.
He has continued threatening plans for mass deportation of families on expired VISAS, but has continually backed off. Many immigrants are constantly living in fear every day of their lives fearing the unpredictable response from Trump’s administration. From 2015–2019 ICE budget increased from 3.6 billion to 4.7 billion, and the proposed Trump wall that has not been built yet would have cost taxpayers 20 million dollars per mile.
Trump has even made it more difficult to apply for citizenship. The waiting time has been expanded for up to 18 months, and in 2019 something drastically changed about the definition of immigration. Trump has been proposing in Congress and Senate the idea of a “merit based” or points based immigration system, that would exclude the low income and uneducated immigrant families that are already here. It’s a prejudice system when you consider that when the ancestors of white Americans arrived at Ellis Island, they had not a penny to their name and could understand very little English. All they understood was that they wanted to start a new life in America. Also, wouldn't only accepting very highly educated immigrants actually take away jobs from middle class Americans, the very thing conservative are afraid of?
However there is one interesting aspect about the Trump administration, and that is that deportations are drastically down. Deportations dropped 40% from 2017–2020 compared to Obama’s first three years in office, but there is more to the story. With his zero tolerance policy the old policy of “catch and release” has been ended. Which means majority of the immigrants arrested under the Trump administration have been thrown in Americans prisons instead. Even though crossing the border is a misdemeanor not a crime that shouldn’t deserve prison time.
That brings us to the closer reality of what is actually going on. The era of Trump has the half of America believing there are foreign invaders and we need a wall, but the closer truth is that the invaders are already here and have been living among white communities for decades. If you take the year 2016, NPR reports that 62% of the newly undocumented immigrants were from expired VISAs that were already living in the United States. Marco Rubio brought to light an Associated Press report that estimated that over 40% of the illegal immigrants currently residing in America, came here legally on an airplane but were unable or chose not to renew their VISAS.
During the COVI19 pandemic the Trump administration has even been accused of gassing and spraying down immigrants in ICE centers which caused sever bleeding and asphyxiation in detainees. Immigrants are reporting they were denied access to fresh outdoor ventilation.
On June 20th 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Trump could not immediately revoke Obama’s DACA which provides work authorization and temporary protection from deportation. However he still has the power to end DACA which he threatens to do by the end of his first term. This was onky a delay.
This is how Americans have been manipulated, and it should be of no surprise to anyone because this President has had a history of attacking immigrants and minorities. He was the author of the birther movement which claimed Obama was a delegitimate President because he was an illegal immigrant. There is a closer hatred that is rooted in what we have witnessed in this century and it’s time we talk about what the truth really is.
The Reality OF Illegal Immigration:
Now that we have an understanding of the background of history behind how illegal immigration has been used in the past, now we can talk about why it has happened and what we can do to change the crisis was face.
The first question we need to ask is, are you a slave owner? Chances are if you are a white American you have used services from indentured servants. If you ever had your roofing on your home done, or maybe paid for landscapers to perform a “spring cleanup”. If you had carpenters working on your property, or eat strawberries or bananas then that would be a yes. I am white and I am guilty of using the services of illegal immigrants myself. Ironically so has this President, when it was reported by the New York Times in 2018 this his own company regularly employees illegal labor at his golf courses and hotel chains. Is that a double standard?
The United States today has the highest amount of indentured servants or slaves in the world in the 21st century. Most of them are underpaid and sometimes not paid anything at all for the shelter. They work on most every major farm, factory, school, newspaper, restaurant, and country club. He may be the janitor that lives across the street from you or the mechanic working on your car. He may be the attendant pumping your gas, or she may even be the Harvard valedictorian that drove her mother 2,000 miles.
They’re not rapists. They’re not criminals. They’re not bringing drugs. They work harder than any white American has ever worked including me. No white American has ever had to fear being kidnapped in the middle of the night and being deported for providing for your family. No white American has ever had to travel 3,000 miles on foot to pick strawberries. No white American is getting paid on average four dollars under the minimum wage. Somehow immigrants threaten the privilege that white Americans have?
Currently it is estimated there are between 11–13 million deemed “illegal” immigrants in this nation which used to be counted for since the courts ruled that the census cannot incriminate non citizens. This only represents 3% of the population. Somehow though there is an argument from far right political groups that 3% of the population picking strawberries is going to “take jobs” away from white Americans and threaten middle class wages.
It’s not a very logical argument, but unfortunately in recent times it has been given mainstream support not only in the White House but also on cable news. Even some proclaimed leftist news organizations do not really go far enough in exposing the blatant racism and xenophobia that exists.
Another argument that is commonly thrown around is that immigrants are a strain on the white American taxpayer. I emphasis the white demographic, because the argument is suggesting that immigrants do not pay taxes. The plain truth is that immigrants are now forced to commit fraud on stolen Social Security cards, just so that they can obtain an income. This means they pay taxes which they will never recieve the benefits from. Unlike white American taxpayers who receive healthcare and Social Security. This is why illegal immigrants have every right to attend public schools. Besides, doesn’t education and after school programs prevent crime and poverty?
The 2006 census reported that there were 360,000 undocumented high school graduates in that year alone. The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration reported that there are currently 450,000 undocumented students enrolled in college in the year 2020, which only represents 2% of all college attendees in America. They are taking jobs though? That doesn’t sound like the definition of rapists and gangbangers.
So which one is it? Are illegal immigrants taking middle class jobs, or are they rapists and violent animals? You can‘t have both in a logical argument. The sadder reality is that by not addressing these issues we actually benefit many of the most powerful companies in America that want to keep immigrants in the shadows so they can continue to benefit.
The New York Times reports that eight million people are working illegally in the United States. Which also translates to mean that 72% of the illegal immigrants living in America are working full times jobs and in many cases weekends. These employees are at greater health and safety risks, and they on average make 10% less than an American in the same position. This means if you are working a minimum wage job (which most immigrants do) that is currently at half the value it was in 1968, you are getting paid slave wages. Somehow this is threatening to upper middle class Americans.
“Employees say they work 12–14 hours a day, six days a week, with no lunch breaks. They are subjected to strong pressure, verbal abuse and threats of violence.” — Vangardia
One quarter of the workers employed by the restaurant industry are new undocumented immigrants. If you ever go out to eat, chances are your food was cooked by an illegal immigrant. As a collective group it is estimated that undocumented immigrants make on average 40% less than the middle class, either due to lack of education access or racism in the workplace.
They also heavily contribute to sales taxes in every state they reside in. Sanctuary cities get roughly 11 billion annually from illegal immigrants. Communities that deport and attack immigrant communities are losing out on billions of tax revenue. They have a right to use city roads and bridges.
Perhaps the greatest crime they commit is also a tragedy in and of itself, and not in the way you think. So they give us a ton of taxes, they provide white Americans with extremely cheap labor and sometimes for no pay at all, and they live in fear of being kidnapped and deported while they are sleeping. They live in fear they will never see their children again, and what do we tell them? They don’t have the right to vote. That is right, in other words they have no legal representation. They are 3/5 of a person which means they do not exist. If they dare ask for representation, if they dare ask for the right to be heard they are called enemy aliens that receive more disrespect from the white community than actual rapists and domestic abusers.
Yes the cardinal sin in America is not cheating on your wife or lynching a black man, it is having the audacity to have your voice heard. If you are accused of voter fraud and caught, you can be sentenced to prison for a decade or more. It took a civil war for slaves to be freed and win the right to be heard. It took a feminist movement across the nation for women to gain the right to be heard. In the 21st century, maybe it is time we have that same debate about hispanic immigrants. The question to ask would be, how can a community demand better wages and working conditions if we tell them they have to stay silent? There is perhaps nothing more demeaning to a culture than to tell them they are not important enough to be represented.
Yet voter fraud is not even a real problem, when half of the American population that is eligible to vote doesn’t even bother to participate. If we can’t get enough real people motivated to vote, how are we going to get people motivated to show up as dead people to vote. In the greater sense the issue of voter fraud is being used to manipulate the legal vote, and it is very apparent in minority communities and particularly in southern states.
In the year 2020 in four states you can still lose your license for getting caught with a joint in your pocket, even if you’re not driving. Imagine the implications of southern states adopting required identifications for voting, when minorities are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. The fastest way to take away a person’s right to vote is with drug incarcerations. Right now 2.2 million Americans have been stripped of their right to vote. In 2010 the US census reported that blacks and hispanics made up 60% all those incarcerated, even though they only make up 28% of the population.
Voter suppression is the greatest civil rights issues we face, because if you can’t vote you have no representation. Right now the greatest slave population living in the shadows is the immigrant community from south of the border, only because for the last three decades we have demonized a new race of people. We have made their simple existence a crime because we are afraid of a threat that does not exist. The greatest hypocrisy that exists today is that we condemn nations such as North Korea and Iran for having closed borders, while at the same time attacking an entire race of people already living in America. This hypocrisy has been pointed out by many notable leaders from the past including Bobby Kennedy.
Today the United States currently has some of the most restrictive voting rights and access in the world. In every European country, a migrant can show up and vote in any election in the entire continent if they reside there regardless if they are a citizen. Ireland even allows visitors to the country to participate in elections. The same story in Israel which allows non citizen residents to participate in their elections. Australia and New Zealand gave voting rights to all European migrants, and Brazil which allows European migrants along with many other South American countries. We are one of the few developed nations in the world which does not have automatic or compulsory voter registration. United States consistently has the worst voter participation in the entire world of free democracies.
If you want to stop human trafficking and illegal labor, you have to bring families out of the shadows and give them legal representation. Until that day millions of immigrant families and children will continue to suffer with no voice. White Americans today are more powerful than they have historically ever been. We fought the Revolutionary War and freed ourselves from tyranny. We abolished slavery and freed African immigrants. We opened our hearts to European refugees in the 19th century. Maybe it’s time we do the same for the hispanic migrants today. America has not passed any serious immigration reform in four or more decades.
So the next time you look down on an immigrant on the street or use them for labor, consider that they are human too. Consider the hardships these families have to face in their every day lives. That is the largest obstacle Americans need to overcome if we want to live up to our word of equality.