President Trump has announced several measures designed to prevent new immigrants from entering the country and to deport immigrants, already here, who don’t have specific legal permission to enter the country. He, and many of his supporters, justify these measures by saying, the USA is our country and we have the absolute right to determine who, if anyone, can enter the country. Anyone who wants to enter the country must first get our permission.
Strictly speaking, US law provides a firm basis for that point of view. But that view imposes a cruel double standard on those who want to come here now to make a better life for themselves.
Did our ancestors get permission of the current residents of what is now the USA to come here? Absolutely not!
Most of us are European American in ancestry. The first American settlement in the US was established at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The second was at Plymouth, Massachusetts, starting in 1620. In neither case did the Europeans ask permission to move in of the current owners of the land.
After those two colonies Europeans began flooding into Native American lands. If they met resistance from the original owners of the land, the Europeans just attacked them and beat them into submission.
In 1804 the US bought most of the land west of the Mississippi river from France for $15 million. None of the Native Americans living there had agreed to sell their land to France in the first place. And those Natives certainly did not get a share of the profit from the sale of their land to the United States.
In some cases Europeans simply drove all the residents out of areas the Europeans wanted. In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy, 16,000 Cherokees were forced to give up their lands east of the Mississippi River and to march to an area in present-day Oklahoma. Four thousand of them died of cold, hunger, and disease on their way to the western lands. Again, no one paid the Cherokees for their land.
The onward pressure of Europeans moving westward continued through most of the 1800ds. From the 1850s to the 1870s European Americans made war on the wester plains Indians because the Indians refused to get out of the way. Often the Americans slaughtered huge numbers of Buffalo, the Indian’s main food source, to starve the Indians into submission.
Given our history, it is pretty hypocritical to say that anyone else who wants to come here must have documented permission to be here, and anyone without such permission must leave.