My grandfather was an illegal alien. During the 1800s he travelled from England, where he was born, to Canada, which was British territory in those days, so he wasn’t required to have a passport. He travelled to the Canadian West, then crossed the border into Idaho, to be known, thereafter, as an American.
Grandfather took the route of Joseph, a chief of the Nez Perce tribe, who was still fighting the white man in those days, but vastly outnumbered by the US cavalry. Joseph would do battle and make his way into Canada through the Idaho panhandle, only to come back to fight again another day, according to family legend.
Grandfather prospected for gold, and made enough from it to buy supplies to do more prospecting. He also cowboyed and did other rough jobs. Well into the next century, his family rounded up and “broke” wild horses they would sell. Some of my early memories are of cowboys being flung over corral fences by bucking broncs, hard men who, with a broken arm in a sling, would mount the next horse so as not to miss out on a day’s pay of some $2.
My maternal grandfather (grandpa) was not an illegal alien, but his parents were. They settled in North Dakota in the 1800s. Grandpa’s parents spoke no English, only French, and he was needed to work on their farm, so had to leave school after the fourth grade.
Grandpa had ten children, my mother the second oldest and oldest girl. During the depression grandpa made and sold illegal whiskey to feed his hungry family, providing a gallon jug once a month to the local sheriff to keep the law at bay.
Grandma was Irish so couldn’t imagine that whiskey could be illegal. Her parents were illegal Irish who’d plowed the hard North Dakota ground with a team of oxen named Tom and Jerry in the 1800s. I learned the oldest family stories from her, shamelessly agreeing when she noticed that “Leprechauns must have eaten some of the cookies I baked. . . .”
There you have my illegal alien history. Just about all of my ancestors were illegal at one time, but in those days nobody really cared, as long as immigrants were white people.
Chinese were welcome to work on laying the tracks for railroads in the 1800s, but they couldn’t bring their women. The plan was to use them for cheap labor and then let them die out. Overt racism has always been central to the immigration system of the USA.
It is most confusing to me that President Trump’s obsession, Mexicans, could be considered to be illegal, since most Mexicans are part, if not all Native American and roamed what we now call the American Southwest for centuries, it seems to me they have as much right to be there as anyone.
The white man would not be pleased if Native Americans went to Europe and planted their flag, claiming it as their own while pretending that Europeans did not exist (slaughtering any who disagreed).
But now we have the great government shutdown because we have a racist president who fires up his glassy-eyed followers with talk of terrorist Mexicans seeking to rape our women and eat our babies, or whatever his latest prevarications entail.
All my life I have witnessed the hypocrisy of moneyed Americans looking down their noses at Mexicans, but living off their sweat and blood. It is well known that among our wealthy class it is quite common to hire Latinos and Latinas as servants to this day. They work cheap and can be threatened that if they don’t labor for peanuts they will be turned over to government officials and sent back to Latin America.
Wealthy farmers have hired illegal aliens since before I was born 75 years ago, to pick crops. It’s everywhere in the country–not just the Southwest. In my youth I picked crops in Washington State beside thousands of people who didn’t speak a word of English, and I doubt that any of them were legal citizens.
They were hard workers, honest people who never complained about the horrible conditions. They knew when crops would be ready to pick in every part of the country, so as to travel from state to state in time for the harvest. The price of American food is as dependent on them as anything else.
Donald Trump never worked a day in his life. He probably found it to be traumatic that he had to spend part of a day signing for his inheritance when he came of age. He also had to hire someone to handle his money for him, what an inconvenience. Today he mostly seems to play golf when he’s not watching FOX News propaganda from which he got the idea to shut down the government.
His wall is one of the most stupid ideas I’ve ever heard for a way to waste billions of dollars. I can think of nothing good that it will accomplish, and lots of bad things. It will make it difficult for some species of animals to do their normal migrations. It will waste money that could feed kids, in a nation where millions go hungry some of the time.
If the Democrats cave to him, expect Trump to blackmail them again every time a budget is considered. As much as I hate to see government workers go unpaid, perpetual blackmail could be worse for the nation.
Because Trump is one of the most stupid presidents we’ve ever had (and we’ve had some winners) no sensible person knows how to approach him. American presidents have awesome power, far more than the Congress and Supreme Court put together, despite the bogus claim of “checks and balances.” Hell, presidents take us to war, at times without even disclosing it to the Congress, let alone asking for a declaration of war as required by the Constitution.
I would suggest Trump be approached by someone from FOX News to convince him to go to Afghanistan to talk with the Taliban, who are furious that millions of their brothers and sisters have been slaughtered by stupid and corrupt American presidents in that completely unnecessary war. Trump would be flattered that he is such a brilliant deal maker that he alone could convince the Taliban to make peace and end the longest war in US history.
I would insist that the butt-kissing Pence go with him, because a Pence presidency would be every bit as bad and probably worse, since Pence is less idiot than Trump and could get horrible legislation through the Congress beyond what Trump might accomplish.
I really don’t know what the Taliban would do with Trump and Pence, but I’m certain it would be a service to mankind. At the very least, I suspect it would open up the government, and stop “illegal” children from being separated from their families, locked in cages.
My family would have been illegal too, if the skin of my ancestors was brown.
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.