The vast majority of Americans, through lineage or otherwise, are immigrants, and certain politicians should not forget that.
Aside from Native Americans, who can trace their time on this landmass back through countless generations, most people have ancestors who came here from somewhere else.
But some candidates for higher office in this country, including GOP presidential contenders Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, are shouting that they will build walls on both borders and say immigrants, particularly Mexicans, are not good people. They claim they will deport all 11 million people living here illegally, which is not possible. These are falsities thrown out to gather votes, as are their ideas of ending birthright citizenship.
Our treatment of asylum-seekers is also shameful. Thousands of refugees, including children, who arrived last summer from Central America are still locked up. They are waiting to see if their asylum claims will allow them to stay in this country. This immoral and inhumane situation is unfolding under a Democratic president.
It is not enough that this administration has deported more people than any previous one. We have to listen to politicians talk about how they will be tougher than the current president and be even harder on immigrants.
Refugee or migrant? Immigrant or first-born in this country? How many generations can you count back? What does it matter? We are all human beings, though some of us are more humane than others.
The Obama administration should look to Germany, a country that has confronted the historic inhumanity of its treatment of minorities and resolved to do right by the refugees who are streaming toward its border. Our nation of immigrants should be a leader in treating human beings with dignity, as well. And we should beware the scapegoating of minorities and immigrants.
Angie Trudell Vasquez is a poet and activist. She wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.
©2015 Angie Trudell Vasquez