tideshift

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Immigration

I marched outside Rep. Mike Ferguson’s offices on May Day with almost 200 courageous, American-flag-waving, cheering immigrants – men, women and small children – reminding us that no human being is illegal, demanding a path to citizenship, and opposing the unspeakably harsh Sensenbrenner bill Ferguson supported with his vote.

Many recent anti-immigrant letters to the editor (here in New Jersey) have come from people with German, Italian and other non-Lenape names. If the only people in America were descendants of the indigenous tribes who lived here before the European invasion, there would be far fewer people, and it would be a far more beautiful country – both physically and morally.

But here we all are. And it’s the foreign policy decisions of the descendants of those first wealthy, white colonists – to kill, enslave, rape the land and steal the resources of not only the native people of North America, but also the people of South America and Central America – that have forced the 12 million “illegal” immigrants now living and working here to abandon their ancestral homes and their extended families and run north.

They could not make a living “where they came from,” which is why they each made the painful decision to spend all their savings, set out in the dead of night, spend days or weeks in the desert danger, facing death from heat, dehydration and violence, to come to this country. Their desire to live is not to blame. America’s desire for ever-greater wealth, rather than sustainable, just co-existence with the people of other lands – is to blame.

The least we whites can do, to simply begin to right the wrongs of our colonial past and present, is to support the immigrants, help get them a path to full citizenship, help them organize their workplaces to increase their wages (and thereby all wages) and better their working conditions (and thereby all working conditions). It’s not about liberal guilt. It’s about real justice, recognizing that laws empowering capital at the expense of people are unjust laws, deserving only civil disobedience.

I hope that this really is the end of the 500 years of colonialism that indigenous prophets have foreseen for so many centuries. I hope there will soon be a flowering of indigenous wisdom, and that we’ll soon all live in a very different kind of world: more just, more peaceful.

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