With the new Minuteman Project, illegal immigration is in the headlines again. The debate isn’t new, of course. 150 years ago, it wasn’t the Hispanics that worried us; it was the Chinese and the Irish. The irony is enormous. We created the very problem that vexes us.
Consider the history. Our problem with Mexico began in 1846 with the Mexican-American war, a war literally invented by the United States. We simply took the Mexican territory that is now New Mexico, Arizona and California. In his Memoirs, President Grant, who fought in the Mexican War, said, "For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory." Abraham Lincoln denounced the war as a fraud, and John Quincy Adams lamented the intentional dismemberment of Catholic Mexico.
The 1849 California Gold Rush occurred one year after the war’s end. This brought thousands of Chinese into what had been Mexico but was now, through fraud and force of arms, the United States. American California responded by making it illegal for Chinese immigrants to testify against whites. Congress responded by forbidding American ships from transporting Chinese immigrants. But due to a silver strike in Nevada, Chinese laborers were needed to build the transcontinental railroad, so they were brought in despite the laws.
Thousands of Chinese died in the construction effort of the transcontinental railroad. One year after the 1869 celebration of its completion, America commemorated the event by refusing to allow any Asian to become an American citizen. The subsequent 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act restricted their ability to even set foot on American soil. The Chinese would not be permitted to become Americans until 1943, two years after we had joined China in its WW II fight against the Japanese. Japanese had been permitted to become citizens in 1924. Restrictions on immigration from the rest of Asia would not be removed until 1968.
But, while Protestant America hated Asians, it had hated Catholics first. Between 1776 and 1830, Catholics made up roughly one percent of the U.S. population. At that time, one in eight Catholics was a slave. Most of the rest were poor farmers. The U.S. Catholic population increased to today’s 24% primarily through immigration and annexation. First, we stole Catholic Mexican territory, then Irish and German Catholics flooded in due to famines in their home countries in the 1830’s and 1860’s. We annexed Catholic Spanish territory like the Philippines in the 1898 Spanish American War but did not allow (Catholic) Filipinos to become American citizens until 1924.
And even as we let the Filipinos in, we shut Mexican and European Catholics out. A large influx of southern Mediterranean and Eastern European Catholics had streamed in around 1900. In 1892, New York’s Ellis Island opened as the primary processing station for the East Coast. By 1903, attempts were made to require inspection of aliens (Catholics) crossing the Mexican border. By 1907, Arizona, New Mexico and a large part of Texas was reorganized into the Mexican Border District in stricter attempt to stem the flow of Catholics across that border. It wasn’t enough. The per capita immigrant rate was still four times higher in 1913 than it is today.
So, by 1921, the attempt to keep Jews and Catholics out (Germans, Poles and Italians) was further strengthened through immigration quotas, quotas that became even tighter in 1924 - the same year Catholic Filipinos were finally permitted to naturalize. Those anti-Catholic quotas stayed in effect until 1965. They were justified in part by safety concerns. After all, President McKinley had been assassinated by a Polish anarchist in 1901. To a WASP, there was really no difference between an anarchist and a Catholic.
People like to portray the history of American immigration law as a history of racism. While it certainly was that, it was equally a history of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic hysteria.
This year, for the first time in history, Protestant Christianity will no longer be the majority religion in the United States. However, even before it lost its dominance, secular humanistic atheists wielded abortifacient contraception, euthanasia and surgical abortion like swords, legally murdering America’s inconvenient and disabled. WASPs and atheists still export the American culture of death across the world.
But even as they labor to build their slaughterhouse, hundreds of thousands of Catholics steal across the border into the United States. Like the parable of the thief who breaks into the house to tie up the strong man, like the God who stole quietly into the virgin’s womb to overthrow the prince of this world, these illegals steal in to America. They are, after all, devoted to the Patroness of the Unborn, the Virgin who was herself an immigrant into the idolatrous land of Egypt.
So, here's a bit of information for the Minutemen to contemplate. When Hispanic Catholics look to the crucifix, they remember one critically important fact: God blessed the thief.