Immigration Nation

[column written  8/24/18 © 2018 Mumia Abu-Jamal]

Say one thing about the Trump presidency, from day one, issue #1 has been immigration.

More specifically, the issue has been American anxiety about the rising tide of immigrants – especially Mexican or other ‘nonwhite’ immigrants.

Several days ago, I’d been reading No One Is Illegal by Justin Akers Chacon and Mike Davis (Haymarket books: Chi.)

I’ve learned new things on virtually every page, especially the harrowing history of how the U.S. treated immigrants over the years.

The history of the U.S. is largely seen by the demand for workers from China, Japan, the Philippines, and later, Mexico. They would be invited, welcomed, super-exploited by growers, and then they would be demonized by politicians and media, to be assaulted, insulted and eventually – deported.

These workers were paid a mere pittance, some, like the Chinese, were spit on in the streets by white ruffians and vigilantes. Some were beaten.

Some were killed.

When Mexicans came North to take these jobs, some by way of the U.S. Bracero Program, they were isolated and separated from others, so that they could more easily be exploited. They were signed up to work by contracts, and once that ended, they were deported back home to Mexico.

They essentially feed the U.S. nation – for pennies- only to be demonized, isolated and forbidden to unionize (and when they tried to do so, immediately arrested and deported!)

The hardest working gets the lowest wages – sound familiar?

The struggles of migrant workers in the U.S. are truly eye-opening.

It ain’t pretty, but it gives us a lot to learn.

That U.S. history ain’t shown at the movies.

Those stories have yet to be told.



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