“Conditions recently became so alarming — that is, so many Negroes were leaving,’ wrote an Alabama official, that the state began making anyone caught enticing blacks away — labor agents, they were called — pay an annual license fee of $750.... or be ‘fined as much as $500 and sentenced to a year’s hard labor.’”
“Macon, Georgia, required labor agents to pay a $25,000 fee and to secure the unlikely recommendations of 25 local businessmen, 10 ministers, and 10 manufacturers in order to solicit colored workers to go north. But by the middle of World War I, those laws were useless. Northern industries didn’t need to recruit anymore.”
“The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson
I believe I have a very simple solution to our immigration headache. The solution, however, while within the grasp of Washington, D.C. lawmakers, eludes them. They can’t seem to let their good sense outweigh their ideology — an ideology of their own creation.
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The demeaning of immigrants coming to this country is not new. The Irish experienced it, Catholics, Hungarians, Jews, Germans and Asians. Some came seeking better lives; others fleeing war, tyranny and famine. All endured discrimination and hatred. And throughout our history, this country has always shown favor to those residents seeking our shores coming from the whitest of countries while restricting those from countries with people with darker skin or different features.
I wasn’t surprised by the president’s juxtaposition — Africa, Haiti, El Salvador and other “shithole” nations — with Norway. In the 1880s, according to the Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island Foundation, 9 percent of Norway’s population immigrated to the United States. Excluding people of color from this country is in our DNA.
What’s the solution? Immigrants should give what some in this country think they want. Mexicans, primarily, but this could apply to all people of color who believe this country is such a great place to live, including illegals, legals, “Dreamers” foreign nationals attending university here and people on temporary protective status visas.
While I happen to agree this country is a great place to live, at this particular time, the welcome sign has been withdrawn, and the easiest and most profitable thing they can do for themselves and their home countries is to leave. Leave just like 6 million-plus blacks left the South during the Great Migration.
During World War I when the migration started to pick up steam, according to Wilkerson’s award winning account, only 10 percent of the nation’s black population lived outside of the South — by its end — well into the 1970s, that figure would be 47 percent.
But here’s the lesson for the migrants who are under such pressure today and a cautionary word for those who feel no sympathy for them. An editorial from Sept. 15, 1916 in The Macon Telegraph: “Everybody seems to be asleep about what is going on right under our noses. That is, everybody but those farmers who have wakened up on mornings recently to find every Negro over 21 on his place gone to Cleveland, to Pittsburgh, to Chicago, to Indianapolis. And while our very solvency is being sucked out beneath us, we go about our affairs as usual.”
The Hispanic community in this state is being preyed upon by local, state and federal law enforcement like never before. Yes, it is all legal, and that’s why I suggest they should leave. Take the more than $60 million in state taxes they pay and leave. If the crops rot in the field, that’s not their worry. If the jobs Americans say they want so much go unfilled, that’s not their problem.
If some Americans don’t understand that in Georgia, as early as 2012, according to the Selig Center at UGA, Hispanics, legal and illegal, contributed $16 billion to our economy, shame on us.
Nationally in 2016, Hispanic buying power reached $1.4 trillion. That “means the U.S. Hispanic market is larger than the GDP of Mexico and bigger than the economies of all but 14 countries in the world,” that according to the Multicultural Economy Report from the Selig Center.
And there is another reason they should leave. But that will have to wait until next week.