Say one thing about the Trump presidency. From day one, issue one has been immigration, more specifically, the issue has been American anxiety about the rising tide of immigrants, especially Mexican or other nonwhite immigrants.
Several days ago, I’ve been reading No One Is Illegal by Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis, published by Haymarket Books. I’ve learned new things on virtually every page, especially the harrowing history of how the U.S. treated immigrants over the years.
The history of the U.S. is largely seen by the demand for workers from China, Japan, the Philippines, and later Mexicans. They would be invited, welcomed, super-exploited by growers, and then they were demonized by politicians and media to be assaulted, insulted and deported. These workers were paid a mere pittance. Some, like Chinese, were spit on in the street by white ruffians and vigilantes. Some were beaten. Some were killed.
When Mexicans came north to take these jobs, some by way of the U.S. Bracero program, they were isolated and separated from others so that they could more easily be exploited. They were signed up to work by contract, and once that ended, they were deported back home to Mexico. They essentially feed the U.S. nation for pennies only to be demonized, isolated, and forbidden to join unions.
The hardest working get the lowest wages. Sound familiar? The struggles of migrant workers in the U.S. are truly eye-opening. It ain’t pretty, but it gives us a lot to learn. That U.S. history ain’t shown at the movies. Those stories have yet to be told.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.