Munoz: American immigration has a spotted, shameful history |

Munoz: American immigration has a spotted, shameful history

Re: Chuck Abrams’ August 8 letter, “Young politicizes immigration reform”

Well, Mr. Abrams, if you found John Young’s column “politically polarizing” (GOP to Latinos: We are solidly pro-tortilla), then I’m sure you will find my letter even more so, and racially polarizing as well.

Ironically, you warn the reader about “skewed facts,” yet almost in the same breath, certainly in the same paragraph, you proudly proclaim and promote the mythology that the U.S. has always welcomed immigrants; “all we ask is to follow the rules.”

The first significant “rules” for immigrants were passed in 1882; these were called the Chinese Exclusion Act. The names says it all, but I encourage you to google “images for Chinese Exclusion Act” to see the racist motivation.

A more sweeping immigration “rule” was the National Origins Act of 1924 which established quotas that blatantly discriminated against people from southeast Europe and Asia. Tragically, many Jews fleeing the Nazis would be barred from entering the U.S. Quotas based on national origins were not repealed until 1965.

Then, immigration became very politicized during the Cold War when refugees fleeing Castro’s Cuba were readily admitted. This liberal immigration policy continued until the 1980 Mariel boat-lift brought darker-skinned Cubans, not as welcomed, to Florida. This mass of immigrants probably cost Carter the 1980 presidential election.

More Cold War policies in the 1980’s determined who would get political asylum. Nicaraguans would be admitted since it would appear they were fleeing the socialist Sandinista regime which Reagan’s Contras were trying to topple. Yet, refugees literally running for their lives from the civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador would be denied asylum. Very ironic, considering that the death squads in these countries were financed and supported by the Reagan administration.

Let me finish with an excerpt that gives another perspective to John Young’s comments on the politically pandering Congressman Mike Coffman. The non-partisan and conservative British magazine, The Economist reported: “. . . few Republican representatives . . . will ever run for president. Instead most of them will run for re-election next year, in bone-white districts where hostility to immigration reform, if not immigrants, is strong. In fact, thanks to ongoing gerrymandering, Republican districts are getting whiter even as the rest of the country gets browner.”

Cesar Munoz


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