George Washington Was Pro-Migrant

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Changeseeker's post reminded me of this the other day.

For Christmas my mother gave me this book compiled by Steve Coffman entitled Founders v. Bush: a Comparison in Quotations of the Policies and Politics of the Founding Fathers and George W. Bush.  In all honesty, the book isn't very good (sorry mom!).  It strings together quotations that I think are unrelated and unfair.  Just to give people the quotations I'm going to cite are contrasted with two of Bush's quotes under the header "Importance of Union" (p. 3):

GEORGE W. BUSH: "I'm a uniter, not a divider."
-Interview with David Horowitz for Salon.com, May 6, 1999

GEORGE W. BUSH: "I care what 51 percent of the people think of me"
-To Oprah Winfrey, September 20, 2000, quoted by Salon.com
Then to my surprise, in the same section, I get blown out of the water by these quotes from George Washington that have startling relevance in the fight for migrant emancipation.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment."
-Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association and the Other Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland Who Have Lately Arrived in the City of New York, December 2, 1783
GEORGE WASHINGTON: "Happy, thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter who have contributed anything, who have performed the meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabric of freedom and empire on the broad basis of Independence, who have assisted in protecting the rights of humane nature and establishing an asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions."
-General Orders, April 18, 1783
After reading both of those quotes, I couldn't help but feel that George Washington would have been unhappy with those that have denigrated millions of migrants for the simple act of seeking a better life for themselves and those around them. 

They should migrate legally, the anti-migrant trolls would say in response to that, but it's a little hard when the U.S. only legally accepts 147 new un-skilled workers without US citizen or legal resident family already here.  A poor migrant from Guatemala without any family in the U.S. would have to wait 3000 years to get in at that rate.

As much as I have a problem with allowing the rich white males who founded the U.S. to speak on behalf of the country, I do have to say that it feels good that George Washington would have been on our side, the man who could have become King of the U.S. but instead decided to step aside after 8 years of presidency.

Despite all of the irreconcilable damage that the George W. Bush has done to the world, in order to be fair I have to say he is pro-migrant as well, and that the following is one of my favorite quotes from his entire presidency:

"We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain. We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say."
I think you should put that under the "Importance of Union", Mr. Steve Coffman.

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10 Comments

kyledeb said:

This was cross-posted on Daily Kos and Blue Mass. Group.

janna said:

Sometimes it's just too easy to broadly paint Bush a pendejo with one swift brushstroke, when in actuality, there may be times when he's not 100% idiot. I do like that quote.
That whole "I don't mind immigrants, as long as they do it legally" thing is really sooo old. There is so much misinformation and ignorance out there about our so-called system. Like this comment I saw earlier today: http://www.wacotrib.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/01/16/01162008wacbrokenpromise4.html#comment-13472702
If I see another comment like that one, I think I'm gonna scream.

Horace said:

Judging by his belief in principles of the Constitution, George Washington also believed in law and order and that this is a nation of laws and not men. It's extremely doubtful that he would have thought that the concept of ends-justifies the means, i.e. the breaking of constitutionally consonant law (immigration codes in this case), would have been an acceptable means for prospective immigrants to obtain their objective. Your reasoning is little more than a perverse use of history to justify a manifestly wrong deed.

Changeseeker said:

I bothers me that Bush would read something like this in public and yet be adament about pushing policies that do not reflect this mentality at all. So many of this administration's practices (surveillance, torture, rendition, and denial of due process, to name just a few, not to mention the way thousands of immigrants are locked up for long periods and deported at great cost to taxpayers, while their children are also locked away) are repugnant to me.

Talk, as they say, is cheap. At least when you're at the top of the food chain.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Don't get me wrong Changeseeker,

Bush's dictatorial ways as head of the executive branch make me sick to my stomach, and Bush now has the power to stop the raids and deportations, but at one time Bush was a friend of migrants. I blame the anti-migrant forces in the U.S. for the present situation more than I do Bush. I've got everything else to blame on him, lol.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

I think you've sidestepped the central question here, Horace. The question is not whether or not George Washington believed in law and order, the question is whether or not Washington would have believed that the laws on the books, which are made by men not God, are correct and just. Judging by his quotes here, the laws on the books certainly don't meet with Washington's idea of justice.

George said:

How can you speak for George Washington on the issue of illegal immigration? George and the other Founding Fathers were restrictionists to a certain degree. If they weren't then they wouldn't have provided for rules for naturalization in Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution. From what I understand, there were many at the time who were concerned that so-called "imperialists", those who would have the country revert back to rule under England, would be dominant immigrants, and our citizens victims of their own permissiveness. I'd say they very valid reasons to be concerned with whom they permitted to immigrate. Today, the concern isn't so much for domination by foreign powers, (except perhaps for political interference by Mexico), but for growth of welfare entitlements that would eventually result from the adopting millions living at the poverty level. It is for this very reason that we have immigration laws restricting such people from legal residency. Personally, I think that this is logical. As to justice, I believe that justice should serve the citizen first, as it is they that are referred to as "We The People" in the constitution. The first duty of government is to look after the interests of its citizens, and that is what we ask of our ours. That's just what Mexicans and Guatemalans expect of their government. How is that unjust? Just what kind injustice are you referring to?

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

I appreciate this thoughtful discussion George, and I think you've gotten at the heart of the question, which is whether there should be different standards of justice for U.S. citizens and non U.S. citizens within the U.S.'s borders.

You come down on the side that it should be justice for U.S. citizens first, which seems rational to the average U.S. citizen reading this. But i don't think justice is something that is limited, and I don't think another has to suffer injustice in order for U.S. citizens to live a just life. That is to say I don't think justice for migrants has to be separated from justice for U.S. citizens. On the contrary I think that justice for migrants is actually in the interests of U.S. citizens. If U.S. citizens were to actually focus on the roots of migration and work to give opportunities to migrants in the countries that they are leaving from that U.S. citizens would benefit. Instead of spending billions on enforcement, if those billions could be used to keep migrants from fleeing lack of opportunity that everyone would be better off.

The U.S. was founded on the principle that all humans are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To deny that to migrants, and the restrictionist viewpoint does deny that to migrants, and I think that runs directly against what the country was founded on and what people like George Washington believed.

Richard Bond said:

I see that somehow starting off from a different point of view you have managed to come down in pretty much the same place. I hope to see Lou Dobbs this Thursday where I will congratulate him on his support for the struggle against amnesty. I will then ask him how with an estimated annual budget of half a million on horses he does not seem to be raising horses or making saddles or tack or anything in Mexico where his wife's family the Seguras are from. The best way to fight amnesty is promoting legitimate trade, travel and investment.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Hey Richard!

You should tape the interaction and see what comes of it. I'd love to put that on youtube!

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