By Yukio Tazuma, For The North American Post
The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., caused a lot of hateful reactions. Many called for banning all Muslims from entering the United States. A State Rep. of Snoqualmie, Wash., posted: “Islam is incompatible with western civilization.” (Muslims in the United States are estimated at over 2.6 million.) Hateful attacks targeting Muslims are egregious as they are bullied, spit on and shot at. Their homes, temples and schools are defaced, fire damaged and vandalized. This also includes people falsely perceived to be Muslim – East Indians, Sikhs, Middle Easterners of all religions; even some Latinos. God bless America.
Banning immigrants from the United States is not new. The irony of America being a nation of immigrants! They have all played a role in American life. Immigrants arrived in the 1600s from France, England, Germany, Ireland and Scandinavia for religious and political freedom and cheap land for farming. Some bought captured native Indians for tobacco farming, or African slaves for cotton farming. Then, in 1847, Mexico lost the war with the United States losing all territory north of the Rio Grande. That land became the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. The few Mexicans remaining became foreigners in their former “native land.” Today, new undocumented arrivals are designated as “illegal immigrants,” subject to deportation to Mexico. God bless America.
Perhaps the greatest impact during U.S. industrial revolution in the 19th century depended on additional immigrants. From south and east Europe – Italians, Russians, Poles, Greeks and Jews. Next – East Asians, Central and South Americans. The trans-continental railroad was completed in 1869 and terminated thousands of their low-paid Chinese laborers. These Chinese had to compete for the other “white” jobs, stirring up anti-Chinese feelings. AntiChinese riots led to them being beaten, killed and herded by unemployed west coast whites. In 1877, led by an Irish immigrant, Dennis Kearney’s Workingman’s Party in California proposed the exclusion of all Chinese. This led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banning Chinese immigration and barred Asian wives and families. European wives came without limits. (This act was repealed in 1943 when China became an ally of the United States in World War II. Chinese also became the first East-Asians permitted to be naturalized.) God bless America.
The free practice of unrestrained capitalism discouraged labor unions and work-strikes. It allowed for the pitting of immigrant labor against native labor and one ethnic group against another at lower pay or as strLocally in 1885, 450 Chinese were forced out of Tacoma by a mob that included Mayor Jacob Weisbach, a German immigrant. (In 1993, Tacoma apologized for this violence.) In 1907, hundreds of whites in Bellingham, Wash., drove 700 Asian-Indians into Canada. Those in Everett, Wash., were expelled. In 1907, the Exclusion Act was expanded to bar immigrants from India, Burma, Siam (Thailand), the Malay states, the rest of Southeast Asia, part of Asia-Russia, Asia-Arabia and Asia-Afghanistan. But astute U.S. businessmen contracted Japanese immigrants as cheap replacements for the excluded Chinese. Then, antiJapanese immigration sentiment began. Created by King County, the McKinley Republican Club included organized labor and the San Francisco Building Trades Council. Then, the United States persuaded Japan to “agree” to limit their immigrants to the United States. God bless America.
In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Japanese were “aliens ineligible to citizenship.” V.S. McClatchy of the Japanese Exclusion League of Calif. in his testimony to Congress, declared: “Of all the races ineligible to citizenship, the Japanese are the least assimilable and the most dangerous to this country…” In 1924, Congress prohibited entry of “aliens ineligible to citizenship.” Since other East-Asians were excluded before, this specifically
banned all Japanese from entering the United States. (It was repealed in 1952 when East-Asians were finally allowed entry to the United States, and also permitted to be naturalized.) The Philippines became a U.S. territory in 1934, and Filipinos were the only EastAsians permitted to immigrate to the United States, but were limited to 50 per year. God bless America.
In the late 1930s only a few western European Jews were admitted to the United States. They were blocked by strong U.S. anti-Semitics. In 1939, 83% of Americans were opposed to relaxing restrictions on immigration. A transport ship with 900 Jewish refugees was banned from landing in the United States, and forced to sail back to Europe. Now, some Americans are attempting to bar all Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the United States. It’s like Yogi Berra, son of Italian immigrants said: “It’s like Déjá Vu all over again.” God bless America.
Editor’s Note:Yukio Tazuma was born in Seattle and lived in the Puget Sound region almost all of his life, except for the three years he was confined in the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho with other Japanese Americans during World War II. Before his retirement, he worked as a graphic artist at The Boeing Co. He can be reached at ydentsuma@ gmail.com