Some of the descendants of today’s native Americans are also the descendants of today’s Mexican Americans. For thousands of years there has been a natural migration from well below the Rio Grande to cold northern parts of what is today’s “Upper Midwest.” The region today that is loosely made up of the Dakotas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Ironically, even the then pilgrims were considered “illegal aliens” by the then natives. The same natives who “hosted them” and welcomed the pilgrims in what we now call “Thanks Giving.” Certainly the then natives must have thought of the pilgrims as “illegal aliens” but gave them quarter and kindness nevertheless.
But “my oh my” how times have changed and how the Thanksgiving tables have been turned. The immigration debate promises to change how we all define America and maybe even begin to tie together a North American Continent that continues to play a role for new comers. We may yet get the facts straight and muster up some of that native hospitality that made that long cold winter of immigration survivable for the original pilgrims.
We may yet repair the growing divisions in our country and continue to be a beacon of giving, welcoming and building for future generations. Like the Statue of Liberty, a symbol with open arms, allowing our culture to continue to welcome and thank all of us who were here before the next comers, like the native Americans who taught us that Thanks Giving lesson.
Get the facts at Pew. The Pew Hispanic Center continues to provide resources and leadership in this important area:
“The nation’s total immigrant population reached a record 40.4 million in 2011, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center. Over the last decade, the number of immigrants in the U.S. has grown by more than 9 million. The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. grew in the early part of the decade before peaking at 12 million in 2007. It is now at 11.1 million as of 2011, the last year for which an estimate is available.”
New Data: Statistical Portrait of the Foreign Born, 2011
Report: Unauthorized Immigrants: 11.1 Million in 2011
Report: Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero