Think back to your days in elementary and/or high school American history class, specifically to the lessons focusing on early 20th century mass immigration through Ellis Island.
Chances are the material was accompanied by black and white images of blank staring, nameless and expressionless people from some region of the globe where opportunity and the chance for making a better existence for oneself and one’s family was not as great as it was in the United States of America. Beckoned by this country’s promise of economic freedom, private property ownership and a choice to live virtually wherever you wanted within its boundaries, the immigrants came in droves. Most of their names are lost to history, the cultural mixing bowl, intermarriage and assimilation, but their legacy remains.
Or perhaps they were lured by the Emma Lazarus’s famous poem at the Statue of Liberty, which reads:
“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 tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Regardless of the immigrants’ rationales for desiring to come here, they weren’t exactly treated as though they’d reached any kind of “golden door” upon arrival. Life was difficult for those who’d survived the trek over the ocean from Europe (see below). As newcomers, the potential Americans didn’t have a whole lot of expectations -- or rights -- likely figuring they’d be fortunate enough just to be allowed to stay in this country, simply because the Land of the Free represented a promising prospect and a way to make their children’s lives better.
Contrast this futuristic mindset with the Biden administration’s recent proposal to pay reparations to illegal immigrant families who were separated for short periods of time during Donald Trump’s administration. As everyone realizes by now, Trump promised to deal with the problem of hundreds of thousands -- or millions -- of non-citizens rushing our southern border with Mexico every year. Not only was it potentially disastrous for legitimate citizens of America’s standard of living, it was extremely dangerous for the aliens themselves.
Upon arrival, some of the families needed to be split for necessary processing of asylum claims. A hardship for the human beings involved? Somewhat. But what about the Americans who must make accommodations for their own children’s care when at work? Or military families with one parent overseas? They’re separated every day.
The proposal to pay the law-breaking border crossers was preposterous. Needless to say, congressional Republicans weren’t wild about the Biden administration’s latest outrage. Stephen Dinan reported at The Washington Times:
“Republicans moved … to block a reported plan by the Biden administration to make $450,000 payments to illegal immigrants who were part of family separations during the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border policy...
“The [Wall Street] Journal said the payments are intended to compensate thousands of children and parents for trauma they suffered in the separations. During zero tolerance, families that jumped the border without permission saw the adults prosecuted. The adults were jailed and the children had to be separated. But an inspector general investigation found the Trump administration lacked the ability to reunite the families once the parents were released, usually after a few days. By then their children were in the federal shelter system.
“Thousands of families were affected, and some remain separated to this day. The Journal reported that the total payout under the Biden plan could be $1 billion.”
Hey, whatever, a billion here, a billion there. It’s barely pocket change to a Democrat.
By now, everyone’s heard of this nutty idea, though Biden hasn’t commented on it specifically, to my knowledge. It’s hard to find the words to describe the feelings engendered by our Democrat-controlled government’s considering paying illegal aliens for anything, except maybe for a bus ticket south with no roundtrip possibility, unless they wait in line for legal permission.
But alas, here we are. At this point, it would be instructive to view the conditions the immigrants at Ellis Island were greeted with when they first set foot on American soil. Courtesy of a regular reader who recently visited the historic landmark come these images:
Women and Children: Immigration officials detained unescorted women and children until their safety was assured once they left Ellis Island. A telegram, letter, or prepaid ticket from waiting relatives was usually required before detained women and children would be sent on their way. Single women could not leave Ellis Island with a man who was not related to them. When a fiancé and his intended were reunited at Ellis Island, their marriage was often performed right on the island -- then they were free to leave.
Days in Limbo: During Ellis Island's busy early decades, its detention rooms were generally packed with anxious and bewildered immigrants. Detainees were caught in a limbo of enforced idleness, suspended between fear and hope -- fear that they would be sent back to their homelands and hope that they would soon be permitted to land. Meanwhile, they sat on hard wooden benches and waited. Sometimes their confinement was broken by visits to the roof garden, where they could get a breath of fresh air and their children could run around in a small playground.
My friend’s comments accompanying the photos, with a touch of sarcasm: “Those poor migrant kids in air conditioned ‘cages’ really had it bad. Never in our history have we seen such outrageous U.S. policy.A ‘moral stain’.”
Yes indeed. It’s safe to say most people harbor a smidgen of sympathy for the separated illegal families, but it ends there. Basic emotions. After thinking about it for a second, the more common reaction would be, “They brought it upon themselves, so they must deal with whatever the authorities throw (not literally) at them.”
To suggest paying illegal aliens for psychological anxiety tarnishes the memory of those millions who passed through Ellis Island as one leg on their American journey. Descendants of those adventurous immigrants no doubt make up the backbone of America today. Somehow, I doubt anyone who’s related to a person or family who was at Ellis Island would demand anything from our government today for the lack of luxury or royal treatment afforded the travelers back then. Instead, they’d kiss the ground and give thanks that their ancestors made it through.
Living here is a privilege, right?
One can’t help but conclude this “reparations for illegal aliens” scheme is somehow related to the Democrats’ other kooky ideas, such as payments to descendants of slaves to compensate them for the sin of systemic slavery (abolished over 150 years ago), or Kamala Harris’s recent suggestion that Native American tribes were owed reparations-type payments because white European-blooded United States citizens kicked them off their land and didn’t honor treaties.
Why not just rename Columbus Day -- make it “Indigenous Peoples Day”. Oh yeah, they already did that!
Joe Biden’s and the Democrats’ lumping of all illegal aliens into the same category insults everyone, as though all people with tan skin should feel a kinship to other people with similar looking surface color.
Think about it. Does a naturalized American citizen of Mexican heritage feel a special closeness or affinity to the would-be border crossers from Guatemala or El Salvador today? How about Haiti? How about paperless Middle Easterners on the terror watch list? Arabic or Persian people could probably pass for Hispanic if viewed in the right light, couldn’t they?
The logic extends outward from there. My ancestors were from Germany, Great Britain and some mixture of a few other European countries, for example. I’ve never asked, and there’s no one left living that can speak for the original immigrants, but do you believe my German ancestors would’ve favored full citizenship for French or Italian illegal immigrants just because they looked similar? Or how about the Irish? Escaping the great potato famines of the Old Country, would the newcomers feel warm and fuzzy feelings for Jewish immigrants from Russia because they’re pale and were oppressed by their government? How about vice versa?
Should Asian immigrants from South Korea feel as strongly about Filipino or Japanese -- or Chinese -- applicants, just because they’re from the same region of the world and there are similar facial features? Or should all immigrants with brown eyes and high cheek bones want to welcome others with the same description?
The whole notion that Hispanic Americans today are wholesale in favor of illegal immigration is a complete fallacy. While migrants from different central American countries and regions might share certain aesthetic qualities, they’re as different as night and day in other ways. MS 13 is a Salvadoran gang, right? Would Mexican gangs welcome them? Or would migrant work crews from Honduras be open to allowing in Columbian illegal workers as well?
I have a family member who lived and worked in an area where there were meat packing plants. Being familiar with the industry, he said there was much angst and consternation among the immigrant frontline workers due to cultural differences. The Hispanic laborers had to be physically separated from the Somali ones because of different religions, languages and customs. Skin color too? You heard it right -- mix ‘em together and they’d fight (and we’re not talking about loud civil discussions in jumbled English).
Not all illegal alien groups are the same. And putting a reparations price tag on their experience at the hands of the border patrol is about as crazy as it gets. Stupid is as stupid does in Democrat-land, with doddering senile pants-pooping Joe as their spiritual leader.
It used to be that immigrants to this country were willing to endure severe hardships in order to gain legal entrance through places like Ellis Island. Now the Biden administration hopes to pay illegal alien “victims” reparations for being separated at the border through their own actions. That was then and this is now. I’ll take the Ellis Island approach any day. How far have we slid?
reparations for illegal aliens
Joe Biden administration
separation of families
Donald Trump administration
Return to Mexico policy
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