History Repeating blog posts have been monthly for the first year, however, posts will now appear intermittently so more time can be spent on other website features such as videos and the new Pic the News blog. Sorry for the inconvenience.
In a summer filled with news stories covering the increased immigration of undocumented minors and related consequences, a recent Gallup poll has found immigration to be the number one issue for Americans. The challenge large numbers of undocumented minors have posed for immigration officials, the heart-breaking conditions the children endure, and the anti-immigration protests in communities against housing the children led up to President Barrack Obama’s meeting with three Central American presidents last week. In the early 1900s, Japanese children were also put center stage in a heated immigration debate that prompted presidential involvement.
As the debate over immigration policy has languished for years without Congress producing comprehensive legislation that satisfies immigration supporters and opponents, communities have taken matters into their own hands. Earlier this month, protesters in Murrieta, CA turned back three busloads of undocumented immigrants who were sent to be housed in the town. Additional anti-immigration protests have since occurred in anticipation of the arrival of more buses. Likewise, people in Oracle, AZ have staged protests against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s plan to house 40 or more child migrants there, and protesters even stopped a bus full of YMCA campers they thought were illegal migrants.
Against the backdrop of an increasing number of anti-immigration protests and the high number of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. (57,000 caught since October), Obama met with the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras last week. Obama encouraged them to do more to stop the migration of children in particular, and the Central American leaders asked for the U.S.’s help in combating two major motivations for migration: drug-related violence and stagnant economies. In making the request, they emphasized the U.S.’s shared responsibility for the problem. Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez argued that the U.S.’s demand for illegal drugs fuels the violence in his country that causes child migration. The White House meeting ended with the four leaders issuing a joint statement saying there is “a spirit of shared responsibility to address the underlying causes of migration by reducing criminal activity and promoting greater social and economic opportunity.”
Immigration issues and tensions are certainly not new to the U.S.; action at the local level directly prompted presidential action a century ago. Even though an 1894 treaty allowed Japanese workers to move to the U.S., a strong anti-immigration movement developed on the west coast. Hostility toward Japanese immigrants increased as it became clear they were not just migrant laborers but permanent residents with growing families and an increasing population.
Anti-Japanese sentiment created the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League in 1905 and passed the San Francisco Board of Education’s 1906 policy that required all Asian students to attend the Oriental School. Japan took offense, and so President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration entered into talks from 1907 to 1908. The Gentlemen’s Agreement was reached whereby Japan agreed to stop issuing passports to U.S.-bound workers (family members of immigrants already in the U.S. were still permitted to move), and President Roosevelt agreed to pressure the San Francisco Board of Education to rescind its segregation policy, which it did.
These two instances show what happens when the federal government fails to comprehensively address immigration in a way that satisfies immigration supporters and opponents. Without responding to the concerns of communities most directly impacted by immigration, anti-immigration attitudes grow from privately held opinions of individuals to organizations willing to take collective action. The federal government is then forced to act in an environment of hostility between entrenched viewpoints that are not easily assuaged. Ultimately, the Gentlemen’s Agreement did not end the anti-Japanese push. The Supreme Court ruled in 1922 that Japanese immigrants were ineligible for U.S. citizenship in the Takao Ozawa v. United States case, and the Immigration Act of 1924 stopped all Japanese immigration for decades along with other restrictions for people of other nationalities.
With the introduction of children in the crosshairs of the immigration debate, an agreement that satisfies both sides has become more urgent. However, as the Gentlemen's Agreement shows, an immigration agreement may not mean the end of an anti-immigration movement. Thus, for now there’s only the hope that Obama’s meeting and any subsequent agreements will prove to be more successful in stopping the flow of undocumented minors and forestalling future anti-immigration actions than the Gentlemen’s Agreement was in preventing greater discrimination of Japanese immigrants.
What provisions are necessary for an enduring immigration agreement? Leave a comment.
Even though President Barrack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 has been brushed aside by a Congress with a reputation for inaction, the U.S.’s system of federalism has allowed state and local governments to take action. Legislation passed in Massachusetts and Seattle, WA highlights a strength of the American system, that gridlock at one level does not necessarily put the entire nation at a standstill. This is a lesson well known a century ago in the Progressive Era. Faced with a federal government unwilling or unable to take action due to deep ideological disagreements about the role of government, reformers looked to state and local governments to create change.
The most recent mass shooting in California has predictably reignited the gun control debate. At a memorial for the victims, Richard Martinez, the father of a victim, led a chant of “Not one more!” as he called for stricter gun laws. The resemblance of last week’s mayhem to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre shows how little has changed in the last seven years. Gun rights supporters still reject reforms, but if similar events keep occurring, complete opposition to new legislation may backfire in the long run.
More than two decades after the Cold War ended, the United States is still trying to evict communism from its neighborhood. ZunZuneo, the Twitter-like social media program, follows a long list of unsuccessful plots to undermine Cuba’s communist government. While less aggressive than previous attempts such as the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, ZunZuneo similarly aimed to generate regime change. Despite using twenty-first century technology to create the information-sharing platform, U.S. officials should have followed the example of the more successful Cold War endeavors of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
The federal government’s investigation of General Motors’s recall due to faulty ignition switches comes as it has just completed a settlement with Toyota over its 2009-10 recall to fix accelerator problems. The automakers’ awareness of potentially fatal problems well before alerting consumers has generated controversy. These instances also provide useful case studies for what is typically a vague, theoretical argument waged in the midst of political campaigns over the proper role of government in an otherwise free market.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s recent conviction of 20 counts of corruption follows a rich history of crooked city politicians who sullied the office they held. In the Gilded Age time period of United States history, which was perhaps the golden age of political corruption, the muckraking journalist, Lincoln Steffens, warned that the effect of corruption “is literally to change the form of our government from one that is representative of the people to an oligarchy.”
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s new book provides a behind the scenes look at President Barrack Obama’s administration that is thrilling to political junkies, but harmful to democracy. While open debate and freedom of speech are hallmarks of a healthy democracy, there is also a place for discretion. Even frequent Obama critic Senator Marco Rubio acknowledged the negative consequences of publishing a book too soon, saying, “My preference would be that people would refrain from writing these sorts of things until the president is out of office because I think it undermines the ability to conduct foreign policy.” Gates’s book is neither groundbreaking in its timing nor in its content; it follows a trend of former government officials exposing the inner workings of the administrations they served as the rest of their former team is tasked with continuing to run the country.
In the ongoing argument between government regulation supporters and detractors, there has been little pushback on the FDA’s new guidelines regarding giving antibiotics to livestock for the purposes of promoting growth. The recommendations come after years of warnings that the overuse of antibiotics has created drug-resistant bacteria that pose a substantial threat to humans. Now that the chickens have come home to roost in the form of superbugs, the FDA has taken action, and the food and drug industries ostensibly have consented. The government’s eventual regulation of food and drugs to protect public health after years of inaction recalls the circumstances surrounding two 1906 laws: the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act. These episodes a century apart show that in the mind of the public, preventing threats to public health can rise above liberal or conservative ideology.
Although democracy typically relies on the rule of the majority, the United States Senate is the rare democratic institution in which the minority can prevail. In the last two weeks, Republicans in the Senate, who are the minority party, used filibusters to block President Barack Obama’s nominations of Patricia Ann Millett and Nina Pillard to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. For a nominee to win a confirmation vote, a simple majority is need whereas to overcome a filibuster, a three-fifth majority is required. Thus, filibustering allows a party with a minority in the Senate to obstruct the will of the majority. In response, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has floated the idea of ending the filibuster so Democrats can approve presidential nominees by a simple majority vote. Despite the Democrats’ outrage that filibusters prevented votes on the two nominees, they used the same tactic when the roles were reversed in 2005. And correspondingly, the Republicans who had a majority in the Senate at the time discussed the possibility of changing the filibuster rules.
highlights similarities between current events and historical events and provides commentary on lessons learned. Since history repeats itself, citizens should look to the past to inform our actions in the present.