By Rebecca S. Jones
HOUSTON – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)” – St. Luke 2:1-4
In closing out the holiday season, I thought on this scripture in reference to the United States. Curiosity caused me to wonder, “What would happen if the WORLD issued a decree that every immigrant was to be taxed to return to the country of his or her descent?”
If all foreign immigrants were charged to Please Stand Up and go home, America as it has been known would be no more. That is, in reference to food, music, recreation, styles and trends and any other factors associated with immigrant-implementation. But first, let’s get an understanding of what an “immigrant” is. According to Merriam-Webster, and immigrant is defined as, “a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.”
Therefore, if we were to rewind back to America’s history, which alleges Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492; we would find, “only 1.3% of the country’s present population is original”. Once again, “Will the Real Immigrants, Please Stand Up!” The United States Census Bureau has seven classifications it lists to categorize the various races which are represented throughout the country today. Those classifications include: White alone, Black or African-American alone, American Indian and Alaska Native alone, Asian alone, native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone, Two of More Races, Hispanic or Latino and White alone, not Hispanic or Latino.
Despite the varying races which are present in the US today, one fact history cannot be white-wash – Indians were first to inhabit America.
George Catlin, a 19-century artist who heavily researched the natives described the group as, “a numerous and noble race of human beings.” In a diary he composed as he traveled the coasts painting portraits of the “fast passing to extinction” race, he concluded, “The Indians of North America were 16 million in numbers,” before the land was invaded by immigrants. The National Archives provides background insight in the section entitled, “Native North Americans”. An extract from the report reveals, “The first English explorers to settle in North America arrived five years after Columbus in 1497, led by the Italian Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot). In 1585, English colonists attempted to settle at a place called Roanoke. The settlement lasted only for a short time. After initial friendly relations, fighting broke out with the Native Americans when they refused demands for food from English soldiers. The colonists fled. On May 14, 1607, the first lasting English settlement in North America was established.
Though many of the colonists fled, at least 100 “unprepared” settlers remained. Due to the lack of provision for food and other essential necessities for survival, famine, and sickness soared amongst the settlers killing the majority of them. Those who were left, “together with new arrivals, began to cultivate the land, growing tobacco.” Before long, “Native American hunting grounds were taken, and the Native Americans began to fight back; any chance of peaceful relations were at an end.”
Land of the Free, Home of the Brave?
So, it’s safe to state when Francis Scott Key penned the poem, “The Star Spangled Banner” a couple centuries later the Indians had already been reduced to subjugation. Thereby, bringing much truth to the last line of America’s National Anthem. “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Though the phrase “Land of the free “might be up for debate, as many of the settlers paid with their lives during the invasion; “Home of the Brave” definitely resonates well, when one thinks of the atrocities committed before America was ever established as a country. Only a brave group would commit a hostile takeover and strip inhabitants of their land and call it their own, in the name of the “Land of the Free.” But, “Will the Real Immigrants, Please Stand Up?”
Fast forward to the emergence of other immigrants. History.com explains, 20 African slaves were brought to America in 1619 by a Dutch ship. It further notes, “Throughout the 17thcentury, European settlers in North America turned to African slaves as a cheaper, more plentiful labor source than indentured servants, who were mostly poor Europeans.”
Furthermore, History estimates “6 to 7 million Black slaves were imported to the New World during the 18thcentury alone, depriving the African continent of some of its healthiest and ablest men and women.” Over the course of the next century, “America’s westward expansion and the abolition movement provoked a great debate over slavery that would tear the nation apart in the bloody Civil War. Though the Union victory freed the nation’s four million slaves, the legacy of slavery continued to influence American history, from the Reconstruction era to the civil rights movement that emerged a century after emancipation.”