Paul Kusuda’s column
America Eyes Immigration Again
Recall also the Native Americans who were forcibly moved to reservations situated in undesirable areas and whose
children were forcibly removed from their parents and relatives to live in segregated boarding schools to learn to speak
English and to disavow their native language. That was less than 200 years ago; the Indian Removal Act of 1830 set the
official U.S. policy of moving Native Americans from their ancestors’ land and forcing them to live in remote sites set up
specifically for them.
Also, consider that 70 years ago during World War II, the U.S. forced 120,000 people (American citizens and their parents
who were denied naturalization rights) from the three West Coast states to leave their homes and be incarcerated in hastily-
built, tar-papered shacks only because of their Japanese ancestry. Our history of treating groups of people is deplorable. It
includes our inhumane treatment of African Americans. It includes taking lands from Native Americans, who ceded large
areas through treaties that were later often forgotten or ignored. It includes taking land from Mexicans in western U.S.
territories that later became states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Currently, much hidden and overt hostility is directed primarily to Hispanics (Latinos) who came from Mexico and South
America. Families came from poverty-stricken areas to work in various parts of the U.S., many at the request of farm
owners and managers who needed workers for labor-intensive agricultural jobs. Immigration quotas were ignored, so
families came as “illegal immigrants” who had no legal documents; they were migrant workers who moved from area to
area following crop and agricultural needs. Older children worked along with their parents. Pay was always low, work
conditions were much less than ideal, living quarters were squalid, schooling was on the basis of catch-as-catch-can.
Being migrant meant constant moves from one area to another; thus, children’s education had to have a lower priority than
work opportunities. Lack of legal documentation meant lack of opportunity for many privileges including naturalization.
Despite the generalized hostility, positive signs are showing up. There’s not enough and may not be sufficiently wide-
spread to engender optimism; however, a measure of relief may be ahead. A February 3, 2013, column in the Wisconsin
State Journal by Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council, referred to a recent report by a group that
studied Wisconsin’s workforce needs and reported to the Governor. He quoted: “Even if we are able to retrain Wisconsin’s
entire unemployed population and match them with available jobs, we will fall well short of filling the projected 925,000 jobs
created or replaced between 2008 and 2018. This is because our working-age population already peaked in 2010 and is
projected to continue declining through at least 2035.” Mr. Still concluded: “Immigration is good for the U.S. economy and
Wisconsin shouldn’t miss the chance to attract talent it needs to remain competitive.”
Another positive sign was President Obama’s January announcement in Las Vegas and in his February State of the Union
Address that immigration reform was necessary. Procedures should be developed to enable the millions of
undocumented immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens after meeting specified requirements. A corollary condition
would have to be an increase in border security. Also, children who had come with their parents illegally and farm workers
who had been invited to the U.S. should be given easier access to the naturalization process. Being discussed is creation
of an agricultural worker program to meet our nation’s needs when there aren’t enough American workers.
A third sign showing potential change in generalized antipathy to undocumented aliens occurred in Illinois when it became
the fourth state (New Mexico and Washington issue licenses while Utah issues permits) to allow illegal immigrants to
obtain driver’s licenses under a new law signed by Governor Pat Quinn on January 27, 2013, and to begin in October.
(Wisconsin State Journal, January 28, 2013.)
As our country’s population grows older and geriatric needs increase, personal care and other needs also increase.
Domestic workers are mostly female, and many are immigrants who are especially powerless to protest unfair and unsafe
conditions, another social concern that involves both of the groups providing important low-paid services. Despite the fact
that domestic workers are of great importance to the U.S. economy, and immigrants step up to meet the needs, we fail to
recognize our need for their help in this as well as in agricultural and technical areas of worker needs. The positive views
are encouraging, and my hope is that positive actions will begin to take place soon, not later.
PART 2 OF 2 (A reprint from 04/13 issue)
By Paul H. Kusuda
There are too many in the U.S. who look upon immigrants with disdain, dismay, dislike.
They look upon immigrants and immigrant families with a derogatory viewpoint. They use
terms and concepts as illegal aliens, undesirable aliens, foreigners who speak little
English and use languages that most of us don’t understand, labor competitors, workers
who willingly take less-than-minimum or less-than-living wages. They overlook the fact
that the U.S. is the country it is today because of immigrants from many lands.
Our history, including relatively recent events, shows how we look upon those whom we
consider “interlopers” or people whom we feel comfortable in mistreating. During the mid-
1930s, Californians generally looked down on those who were called Okies and Arkies, in-
migrants from Oklahoma and Arkansas who were chased from their homes because of
the terrible dust storms.