Nativists in their Own Words

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?

  • http://www.linesinthesand.net Doug Murray

    The difference is that the bashing usually includes the word "illegal" and I hear it from immigrants as well as natives. Mostly European immigrants who followed the rules like most of our grandparents and feel cheated if others don't have to.

    I agree that the rules need to change to make immigration easier. But it's like the argument against the "living" constitution: when the times no longer fit the law you don't just ignore it or say it means something different now, you change it. Until then, you follow it.

  • http://mdahmus.monkeysystems.com/blog/ M1EK

    Exactly. Granted, the "rules" allowed for a lot more immigration, proportionally, back then; and it was a lot harder to get here illegally, but that's a key difference that none of the open-borders folks want to face up to.

  • Rob

    Naw. I'll say that the argument presented was right in the past. Not that everyone was a problem, but there were (are) problems and they bore (bear) addressing.

    Today? H1B visas. Do they cause wage depression? You bet your nether end. I'm in the middle of it.

    The real difficulty is in lumping illegal folks in with those whose use legal means to enter. Lodge was speaking to controlled immigration, not the whacked out border crossing we have going now.

    Yes, Angel Island and Ellis Island should probably be revisited as Point Of Entry.

    Start with real visas and real tracking of folks with visas (they are not citizens, they can be tracked). When somebody overstays their visa, automatic arrest warrant, and the folks to make those arrests. Oh yeah and congress needs to pass an immigration provision that assumes malfeasance when an overstay occurs -> instant deportation, not catch and release.

    It is Our country, Our "club" We make the rules.

  • http://tjic.com TJIC

    The "follow the rules" mantra is nonsense - the rules are arbitrary and capricious, and the body that hands them out (the US government) has no moral authority to make them in the first place. If a private property owner in the US has a job for an immigrant, and property for that immigrant to live on, what business is it of the US government's to get involved in a transaction between consenting adults?

  • Jody

    TJIC: the economic activity crossed borders

  • Joshua W. Burton

    If a private property owner in the US has a job for an immigrant, and property for that immigrant to live on, what business is it of the US government's to get involved in a transaction between consenting adults?

    Before or after 1808?

  • Jim Collins

    "The "follow the rules" mantra is nonsense - the rules are arbitrary and capricious, and the body that hands them out (the US government) has no moral authority to make them in the first place. If a private property owner in the US has a job for an immigrant, and property for that immigrant to live on, what business is it of the US government's to get involved in a transaction between consenting adults?"

    Wasn't this how indentured servitude got started? If you think that it can't happen do a search on how some foreign AuPairs and Nannys are treated.

  • stew

    "They are here to work" mantra about illegals is also nonsense and needs to be amended to say "create mahem, rape and murder." Need some examples? Check out Immigration's Human Cost http://www.immigrationshumancost.org/ to see how those nice, hardworking house painters and landscapers destroy lives.

  • stew

    "They are here to work" mantra about illegals is also nonsense and needs to be amended to say "create mahem, rape and murder." Need some examples? Check out Immigration's Human Cost http://www.immigrationshumancost.org/ to see how those nice, hardworking house painters and landscapers destroy lives.