I recently wrote a brief article describing California’s lawsuit against the Trump Administration over the Addition of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census. That article generated quite a bit of discussion. You can read the article at: http://bit.ly/2qawVVV.
Newsletter reader Ted Russell has written a response to the various discussions that strikes me as common sense. Here is his response, published here with Ted’s permission:
Yes, data on citizenship status will be of great use to future genealogists. And yes, the question is legal and constitutional. But it will likely have the effect of either driving undocumented immigrants further into the shadows, or exposing and deporting them, and this administration knows this very well. The Census Bureau is not supposed to share individual information with other agencies, but based on this administration’s disregard for the law, it would be hard for a Census enumerator to convince a respondent that the information will not be shared with ICE.
Every time someone says “my Irish/German/Italian ancestor came here legally”, they need to be reminded that at one time there was no distinction between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ immigration. The motivation for immigration was no different in 1620 or 1820 than in 2020 – to find a better life for one’s family. The immigrants of the 19th and early 20th century were no more noble than today’s immigrants from Latin America and Asia. If the Atlantic Ocean was 100 yards wide, the Irish, Germans, Polish, and Italians would have crossed it as willingly, and with as much disregard for the law, as Mexicans and Salvadorans cross the Rio Grande today.
Every time someone says “immigrants need to assimilate into our society”, they need to be reminded that immigrants have always established their own communities in the US where the first generation continued to speak their own language, struggling with English, while the second generation was typically bilingual and culturally assimilated, and the third generation was typically English-only and even more fully assimilated. Anyone old enough to have known their immigrant ancestors knows this, as does any genealogist who has researched immigrant families. Today’s immigrants from Latin America and Asia are no different. Yes, Mexican immigrants tend to live in communities with other Mexicans, but their children go to public schools, play basketball and football along with baseball and soccer, join the Army, enrich our economy with their hard work, and enrich our culture with their food, music, and traditions. This is the American story which periodic waves of ignorant xenophobia cannot erase.