Robert Volland writes (Aug. 9) “The United States can, correctly, be called a nation of immigrants.” Wrong. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign born is only 13.6%. The cliche “we are a nation of immigrants” is used as an excuse to justify multiculturalism, mass immigration, anti-assimilation diversity and hyphenated identity politics. In the context of its present political usage, it is a deception.
The United States was founded by colonists, who were British subjects. They emigrated from England as settlers to expropriated lands in America claimed by Britain. The Declaration of Independence refers to the “circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.” Accordingly, they were migrants within British lands (royal, charter, or proprietary), not immigrant aliens from a foreign land. Immigrants were non-British foreigners. Maryland enacted the first immigration naturalization act in 1666. The Declaration of Independence mentions “the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners.”
From a Native American perspective, the colonists were foreign invaders with whom coexistence, appeasement and resistance failed. British subjects did not seek to become assimilated and naturalized in the tribal societies of Native Americans. A nation of interlopers, rather than a nation of immigrants, is a more accurate historical description. To incorporate Africans brought involuntarily to the colonies into the category of “immigrants” conflicts with their importation and enslavement.
The status of being an immigrant does not extend beyond the initial person’s arrival. The descendants of immigrants — native born Americans — are not themselves immigrants. In 1915, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson said, “America does not consist of groups. A man, who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America, has not yet become an American, and the man who goes among you to trade upon your nationality is no worthy son to live under the Stars and Stripes.” It is striking how much the Democratic Party has become un-American by Wilson’s standard.
Mr. Volland’s litany of xenophobia history downplays the culpability of the Democratic Party, such as “Operation Gatekeeper,” which began in 1994 during the Clinton administration, and the record-setting deportations during the Obama administration. Democrats frequently suffer from selective memory lapses when unfairly demonizing Trump.