“Go back to your country” rhetoric is ironic because, well, this is our country. African-Americans were forced here, Mexicans and Native Americans were already here. Those first Americans 40,000 years ago were descendants to ancient, African ancestors, and migrated from Asia to get to Alaska. Everybody beat the Europeans here, so if anything, they are the immigrants; everybody else is just home.
For years, most of us were led to believe Christopher Columbus discovered America. That’s the common story taught in schools, and the man was even granted an American holiday on the second Monday of every October.
As it turns out, that’s all a lie.
The Italian explorer set out in 1492 in search of the Indies, the chain of Southeast Asian islands that include Indonesia and the Philippines. Instead, he stumbled upon the modern-day Bahamas, dubiously named the native people indios, and proceeded to enslave them, spread diseases and massacre them. Rebellion eventually overtook his rule of the lands he “discovered,” and Columbus was exiled back across the Atlantic Ocean in 1500.
In fact, the first Europeans to sail their way onto North American soil predated Columbus by about 500 years, as Vikings from Greenland sailed to Canadian island Newfoundland before returning home a few years later.
In reality, the actual discovery of America is much more fascinating. Somewhere between 40,000 and 17,000 years ago, ancient humans migrated east from Siberia to modern-day Alaska across a landbridge that the ocean eventually swallowed up. From there they dispersed, and the resourceful hunter gatherers spread across the Americas, as far south as Peru and Chile. Eventually, the first ancient American civilization, the Olmecs, settled along the Gulf of Mexico in what is now the modern Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco.
Yup, the first Americans… were Mexicans.
That’s all a long-winded history lesson to say: What the fuck are white people talking about when they say “Go back to your country?” This is our country.
The (white) American fear of immigration is both ironic, and unfounded. Unfounded because, as reported by The Washington Post, not only do undocumented and documented illegal immigrants commit less crimes than native-born citizens, but states with larger shares of undocumented immigrants have lower crime rates.
That fear of immigrants, and feasting on it, has led to the bungled election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. That fear has also led to many despised, and eventually reversed, presidential decisions from Trump. His insistence on travel bans that targeted mostly Muslim countries was foolish, but appeased his voting base, even if the bans were eventually overturned by the Supreme Court.
His latest fiasco was somehow worse, as his zero tolerance policy for illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico to the United States led to children of those detained being separated from their families. The Trump administration saw no wrongdoing in their actions because, as his base put it, those children could not be detained in adult jails.
This, of course, led to heartbreaking photos of toddlers and young children being terrifyingly separated from their families, all as the Trump administration defended the practice. There have reportedly been three so-called “tender age” centers set up in Texas to house the infants and toddlers snatched from their families. The older children have been held under the care of federal governments as well, in stations that have been compared to internment camps. Audio from one of the camps leaked, and children could be heard wailing and crying for “mama” and “papa.” Still, the Trump administration remained steadfast in their defense of the practices.
“If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week. “We’ve got to get this message out. You’re not given immunity.”
Eventually, under public pressure from the world, and private pressure from his aides (including his daughter Ivanka), Trump’s team hastily worked on a fix. A new executive order to stop separating those families runs contrary to Trump’s previous insistence that he could not, legally, do anything about the forced separations, but it has been signed.
Unfortunately, Trump is almost as bad at fixing his mistakes as he is at making them. Reversing his hard stance on immigration has only led to more issues, as there is no plan to reunite families previously broken up at the border.
There are also no current plans to remove the more than 2,300 children stuck in federal care. All Trump has done is essentially promise to not break up families in the future, as he continues to forcibly toss them back onto the other side of the border, still with zero tolerance. Now, when he detains these families, entire families, they may be detained indefinitely.
While he may never get his wall, in some ways he is keeping the promises he made to his voter base by continuously going to inhumane lengths to appease his voters, often at the expense of minorities. Some have theorized that the entire episode is a distraction tactic, meant to open up the door for Trump to get that wall started; others have decided it’s just dubious Trump being dubious again.
Trump’s issue is he never understood that the damaging bigotry that won him the election would have real-life consequences. Maybe he never imagined that he’d actually win, or that if he did he’d actually have to put some action behind all of those words. Now he’s learning there are repercussions to his decisions, and they affect the entire world, and he’s even backing off his previously stated desires as a result.
The problem is Trump’s shortsighted ignorance comes from a real place that plagues this country. That ignorance is from the same place that got him elected; that puts the pressure on him to live up to those boastful promises he made while campaigning; that is responsible for the majority of the crime in this country; that eats up jobs that could go to more worthy candidates; that is largely responsible for merciless massacres; that fosters most of the hate in this country. The same place that is slowly ruining the country:
The immigrants who voted him into office.
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