They were migrants. And the hostility changed them, welded them, united them - hostility that made the little towns group and arm as though to repel an invader, squads with pick handles, clerks and storekeepers with shotguns, guarding the world against their own people.
In the West there was panic when the migrants multiplied on the highways. Men of property were terrified for their property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of the hungry. Men who had never been wanted anything very much saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants. And the men of the towns and of the soft suburban country gathered to defend themselves; and they reassured themselves that they were good and the invaders bad, as a man must do before he fights.
... And the defending people said, They bring disease, they’re filthy - We can’t have them in the schools. They’re strangers. How’d you like to have your sister go out with one of ‘em?
The local people whipped themselves into a mold of cruelty. Then they formed units, squads, and armed them - armed them with clubs, with gas, with guns. We own the country. Page 282 - 283, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
I loved, still love, this book.
I checked it out of the library this week and flipping through its pages I came across these passages.
I've never understood the fear of immigrants. We're a country of immigrants. Most of our ancestors arrived here under terms best described as illegal. They came for the same reasons today's immigrants come: freedom, an opportunity, safety.
Economically, immigrants are a powerhouse of entrepreneurialism and job creation. Their influx of new ideas, new energy, drive has always been what's powered our country's economic engine and freedoms.
Where do you find a more motivated person than one whose walked 500 miles while dodging human traffickers, drug dealers, coyotes (animal and person), desert, no food, hanging on the side of a train?
Yes, OMG, there's a few bad 'uns mixed in. Go ahead and cast that first stone out of your glass house on that one.
Anyway, history does repeat itself. Back then they were migrants. Today they are immigrants. People. They want the same: freedom, an opportunity, safety. Once upon a time we were the country that was known for our kindnesses and generosities in helping those in need. Back then they were migrants. Today they are immigrants. They want the same: freedom, an opportunity, safety.