Immigration lessons from U.S. history

Posted6/12/2019 1:00 AM

Africans were brought to North America and enslaved. It was easier for their captors to carry out such an atrocity, as long as their captors viewed them as property and not humans. These enslaved Africans helped to build this country.

Irish Catholic immigrants, escaping a potato famine, sought refuge from hunger, poverty and disease. It was said that putting them on a boat and sending them home would end crime in this country. Irish Americans, this is the way the country felt about your ancestors.


Germans were once the "unwanted." Viewed as being unable to assimilate into society and then shunned when the U.S. entered World War I. They were offending Americans by continuing to speak German and by opening their own stores and businesses. They were also considered a security threat.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. interned Japanese-Americans in camps. Once again, hysteria set in. This rounding up of Japanese-Americans was done in an attempt to protect the "good" Americans from Japanese-Americans.

In 1942, hundreds of Jewish refugees sought asylum in the United States, fleeing the Nazis. They were turned away, being viewed as Nazi spies and a threat to national security. Turning a blind eye to this human tragedy, resulted in millions of Jews dying in the Holocaust.

Now, faced with people seeking refuge at our southern border, will we continue to inflict the same injustices as in the past? We are a country of immigrants and we still have room for those seeking a better life, like many of our own ancestors. Now, just imagine your life if our country were "full" when your ancestors knocked on the door.

Antonia Harlan


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