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U.S. Foreign Policy Has Created Its Immigration Woes

Immigration or migration to the United States has a long history of problems that have never been addressed in history or with a modern-day analysis. The Protestants and the Catholics in Europe murdered one another for over 500 years and brought that problem with them when they came to the Americas and stole Native American lands.  Before their “migration” to America, people in Europe lived in fear of practicing their religious beliefs. For instance, it wasn’t uncommon for Catholics, Protestants, Puritans, and Quakers to face being jailed, banished from the colony, burned at the stake, or tortured until they converted to the ruling party or faith. This is why the First Amendment was added to the Constitution so that there would be freedom of religion. However, freedom of religion was the vehicle by which Europeans could collapse into the invented racial category of “white.” Before that, there were no “whites,” but only French, English, German, and others. This “white label” is a human invention by European colonists to create a limited democracy that could later dominate others.  It was reinforced by preventing people of color from immigrating to America and included the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This racist law was enacted to prevent America from being populated by Chinese and the U.S. made its first attempt to restrict immigration by race. This immigration policy was discriminatory as a result of increased hatred by former slave owners and southerners who lost the Civil War. The Chinese Exclusion Act set the stage …

Immigration or migration to the United States has a long history of problems that have never been addressed in history or with a modern-day analysis. The Protestants and the Catholics in Europe murdered one another for over 500 years and brought that problem with them when they came to the Americas and stole Native American lands. 

Before their “migration” to America, people in Europe lived in fear of practicing their religious beliefs. For instance, it wasn’t uncommon for Catholics, Protestants, Puritans, and Quakers to face being jailed, banished from the colony, burned at the stake, or tortured until they converted to the ruling party or faith. This is why the First Amendment was added to the Constitution so that there would be freedom of religion. However, freedom of religion was the vehicle by which Europeans could collapse into the invented racial category of “white.” Before that, there were no “whites,” but only French, English, German, and others. This “white label” is a human invention by European colonists to create a limited democracy that could later dominate others. 

It was reinforced by preventing people of color from immigrating to America and included the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This racist law was enacted to prevent America from being populated by Chinese and the U.S. made its first attempt to restrict immigration by race. This immigration policy was discriminatory as a result of increased hatred by former slave owners and southerners who lost the Civil War. The Chinese Exclusion Act set the stage for policies that were based on racism for decades. According to the Office of the Historian, “In the 1850s, Chinese workers migrated to the United States, first to work in the gold mines, but also to take agricultural jobs and factory work, especially in the garment industry. Chinese immigrants were particularly instrumental in building railroads in the American West. As Chinese laborers grew successful in the United States, many of them became entrepreneurs in their own right. As the number of Chinese laborers increased, so did the strength of anti-Chinese sentiment among other workers in the American economy. This finally resulted in legislation that aimed to limit future immigration of Chinese workers to the United States and threatened to sour diplomatic relations between the United States and China.”

According to the History Channel, “American experience with Chinese exclusion spurred later movements for immigration restriction against other “undesirable” groups such as Middle Easterners, Hindu and East Indians and the Japanese with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924.”  

Now, racism is directed against Mexicans, Haitians, Hondurans, Africans, Guatemalans, and others from Central and South America. According to the Association for a More Just Society (ASJ), there are central reasons why thousands make dangerous trips to the Mexican border. This includes extreme poverty, lack of jobs, gangs, political violence, and instability. Much of this originated from U.S. policies that kept dictators in power over many years, forcing revolutions and eventually positing the countries into extreme foreign debt. The problem at the Mexican border is not an “invasion,” a term used by those to stoke miscommunication and create an us against them scenario. 

Haiti was exploited for years by the French, and in 1915, the U.S. sent in its Marines to protect its assets and eventually help a pro-American Haiti leader to become president, though it was not the choice of the people at that time. This set in motion an unstable government that was ravaged by gangs. In Honduras, the U.S. government supported a right-wing dictatorship that has plunged the country into crisis. The U.S. government has a long history of supporting dictatorships in Central and South America with the sole intent of setting up military bases instead of trying to address poverty. The United States supported the dictator Somoza in Nicaragua, eventually helping to shape a country torn by civil war and unrest. Operation Fortune was a secret U.S. operation to overthrow its president in 1952 and resulted decades later in the instability we see today. The roots of poverty in Latin America have been associated with American foreign policy aimed at extracting resources from these countries or sitting on military bases while protecting regimes that care little for democracy. 

We cannot talk about fixing the immigration problem without looking at the historical roots of policies that were aimed at supporting anti-democratic regimes. To fix the problem, our foreign policy must change. These countries must find ways to educate their populations, provide jobs, and maintain a neutral status instead of allowing military bases onto their territory without just compensation. The people at the border are primarily hard-working people who only want human and economic rights. They are not gang members coming here but mothers with their children and fathers looking for ways to live in peace. 

To fix the problem at the border, a bigger picture must emerge. According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, “By and large, the neoliberal agenda that Washington has aggressively promoted has not worked for the people of Latin America, but rather has hampered economic development and contributed to drastic increases in inequality. However, these damaging policies have, once again, generated a popular backlash that is planting the seeds of change in many countries.” 

Our government’s foreign policies are significantly to blame for the chaos at the border, and until we look at the overall problem, calling them “invaders” will change nothing. Developing a just immigration policy internally while changing our foreign policies is a solution.

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