I am an artifact of the global economy. Within a spread of about three hundred years the economies of Norway, England, Ireland and Wales strained to support their people, and my people got on boats and came to America.
My great great grandfather Soren landed a job in this box factory, owned and operated for many years by Nabisco in Marseilles, Illinois. Other kin opened boarding houses in Chicago; manned stage coach stops, opened saloons and mined copper in Butte; farmed the earth in Virginia and Kansas; operated grocery stores and washed laundry in Seattle; picked fruit in California; fished for salmon in Alaska; built highways and factories across America.
They fought for America in our wars, they gave birth to her children. They worked.
They were exiles and aliens. They were immigrants. They made the best of it.
In the latest issue of Orion Rebecca Solnit points out:
Seldom mentioned in all the furor over undocumented immigrants in this country is the fact that most of these indigenous and mestizo people would be quite happy not to emigrate if they could earn a decent living at home; many of them are just working until they earn enough to lay the foundations for a decent life in their place of origin, or to support the rest of a family that remains behind.
Derecho de no migrar means the right not to migrate. It’s the call of a protest movement in Mexico that calls attention to the necessity of migration to North America to survive the economic strains of life in Central and South America. The movement of the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations (FIOB) insists that the right to stay home, and make a living in the place of one’s birth, is a human right. One that is violated by government policies that inflict economic harm on a whole countries.
I point this out because of the disturbing news of a Jersey youth who, with his friends, regularly engaged in “beaner jumping” in which they drove around the streets of their home town until they found an individual of Latin descent who they would then collectively pummel.
On November 8th they targeted Marcelo Lucero, a legal immigrant from Ecuador. Seven boys attacked Mr. Lucero without provocation, and Mr. Lucero died.
Let us remember that most of us are immigrants. Let us remember what it’s like to be far from home; to miss the family and place that defines us. And let us wonder at the courage it takes to travel far from that place in an effort to make it better for the ones we love.
Let's remember a place called Plymouth Rock.