Why do some people want you to hate people who are just like your ancestors? 

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

For nearly 200 years, Americans — okay, some Americans — have ranted, attacked and complained about immigrants. As immigration literally helped turn this country from an agrarian backwater to a superpower, it was always foolish.

But the recent verbal assaults by the likes of Donald Trump (ironically, the son of an immigrant), aside from being reprehensible and in direct oppositions to the teachings of the Bible, are unspeakably stupid.

We need immigrants.

You can make arguments about the need for diversity (when it comes to animal breeds, many of the purebreds have numerous health issues and are fragile, while it is the mutts that emerge as stronger and healthier). Also, welcoming immigrants is the sort of thing kind, evolved nations do, but you’ll end up down some rabbit hole of bizarre rationalization arguing this with most anti-immigration folks.

But the simplest argument — and the one impossible to refute — is economic. Immigrants fuel our economy and make the lives of the rest of us vastly better.

Here in Chester County, without immigrants, who works the mushroom houses, picks crops on our farms? Who staffs landscaping companies? Who cleans your house? Who cuts your lawn? Who does the dirty, backbreaking work far too many of us native-born folks won’t lower ourselves to do?


Yes, some number of them are here illegally. And while I don’t excuse breaking the law, our immigration system is so broken, it can be virtually impossible for people to come to our country legally. I think of my wife’s cousin, a native-born American who now lives in Guatemala, but could not move back to the US with his wife and child, because the immigration system is so dysfunctional. If an American citizen can’t navigate the system, imagine the challenge for true would-be immigrants.

For all of the claims about immigrant crime, immigrants (legal or otherwise) are less likely to commit crimes than other ethnic groups. Immigrants, especially ones here illegally, for the most part keep their heads down, avoid the authorities and stay out of trouble. They pay taxes — obviously sales taxes, but many also pay income tax and into Social Security — and use little or no public services. And no, they don’t vote.

And there is another thing: virtually all of these people who have come here have the drive and ambition to build a better life. Often, the journey here is long and miserable, and yet they endure, hoping to find their piece of the American Dream. Unlike too many of our own natives — some of whom can’t be bothered to get off the couch — these folks are striving to make more of their lives.

I don’t know about you, but I think folks like that will and have always made America a better, stronger place. Truth be told, we need more of them, not less.

What is heartbreaking to me is that so many people forget about their ancestors’ journey here and the difficult years that followed, scraping by and working their way up. My Irish ancestors were maids, day laborers and then worked their way to being prison guards and higher positions in police and fire departments. My great grandfather — an immigrant — became the first Irish-American County Clerk in Queens, N.Y. This was all in era, when the Irish were routinely discriminated against. An entire political party, the “Know Nothings” emerged in the 1850s primarily in opposition to Irish immigrants.

Virtually all of us can trace back to those who immigrated here (yes, even if you have ancestors who were on the Mayflower, the first immigrant refugees to come to North America). Unless you have pure Native American blood (or the are descendent of slaves only — which is very rare, as white slave owners tended to mix their genes in with their human property), some ancestor of yours decided to risk everything in hopes of finding a better life here.

Virtually everything that is great about our country is because of immigrants and their descendants. When you hear someone talking about “poisoning the blood” of America or describing immigrants as “animals” they’re talking about you and your ancestors (and as I note, they’re including themselves, too, as irony would have it).

These people are attacking the very essence of America, the great melting pot. America is greatest when diversity is celebrated and tolerance is the byword.

Which begs the question: why do some people want you to hate people who are just like your ancestors?

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