He warned "that immigration to this country is increasing and"¦is making its greatest relative increase from races most alien to the body of the American people and from the lowest and most illiterate classes among those races....half of whom have no occupation and most of whom represent the rudest form of labor," are "people whom
it is very difficult to assimilate and do not promise well for the standard
of civilization in the United States."
[He] complained that many of them "have no money at all. They land in this country without a cent in their pockets." ...He objected that many "stay but a short time in the United States" in order to "then return to their native country with such money
as they have been able to save here." He warned that these sorts of
immigrants, "who come to the United States, reduce the rate of wages
by ruinous competition, and then take their savings out of the country, are not desirable. They are mere birds of passage. They form an element
in the population which regards home as a foreign country, instead of
that in which they live and earn money. They have no interest or stake in the country, and they never become American citizens."
Whoa, who is that? J.D Hayworth? Tom Tancredo? Surely its someone bashing on Mexican immigration -- the mantra is so familiar.
Well, no. Actually, it is Henry Cabot Lodge, in 1891, most likely referring to your grandparents. In these words, he was speaking mainly of Italians, but they are the same charges made against the Irish in the mid-19th century or Eastern Europeans in the early 20th century or, of course, against Mexicans today. Do you really want to stake out the position that yes, this argument was wrong every time it has been used in the last 200 years but it's suddenly right today?