This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

We All Came From Somewhere Else

Humans migrated out of Africa over the millennia. Even in the Americas, the indigenous population is descended from migrants out of Asia, who are descended from migrants out of Africa. But, of course, most people don't migrate, so it is easy to lose sight of the fact that migration is what created the society in which you live, no matter where that is--including modern Africa. That is more true of the history of the United States than most places (although every country in the Americas, as well as Australia and New Zealand) are very similar in that regard. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote an article a few days ago that lays out the American back-and-forth regarding immigration, and I defy you to read his article without having a tear come to your eye as he gets personal about his father's experience in getting to the U.S. shortly after WWII. But, he starts out with this reminder of attitudes over time:
This newspaper has periodically, to its shame, succumbed to the kind of xenophobic fearmongering that President Trump is now trying to make American policy.
In 1875, The Times sternly warned that too many Irish and German immigrants (like the Trumps) could “deprive Americans by birth and descent of the small share they yet retain” in New York City.
In 1941, The Times cautioned in a front-page article that European Jews desperately seeking American visas might be Nazi spies. In 1942, as Japanese-Americans were being interned, The Times cheerfully suggestedthat the detainees were happily undertaking an “adventure.”
We make bad decisions when we fear immigrants we “otherize.” That’s why Americans burned Irish Catholics alive, banned Chinese for decades, denied visas to Anne Frank’s family and interned Japanese-Americans. And yes, The New York Times sometimes participated in such madness.
But we will not be part of that today.
Keep in mind that we still are not quite back to the percent foreign-born in this country that we had a century ago, and that includes undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are not the problem with America.

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