April 4, 2006


Irish were Latinos of their day (Bob Ewegen, 4/04/06, DenverPost.com)

Today's rancorous debate over immigration has a parallel in the nativist reaction to the mass Irish immigration in the mid-19th century.

Spurred by the potato famine that began in 1845, 3.5 million mostly destitute Irish migrated to America by 1880 - about 7 percent of the population of 50 million. By contrast, today's 11 million unauthorized immigrants, of all nationalities, constitute just 4 percent of our population.

Contemporary immigration foes, like former Gov. Dick Lamm and Rep. Tom Tancredo, claim America can't absorb so many foreign-born without fatal damage to our economy and culture.

Yet, history shows we did just that. Today, there are 43 million Americans of Irish ancestry, a key element of the vibrant alloy that is America.

Today's nativists argue we can't compare today's illegal immigrants to the Irish, because the Irish came here legally. That's technically true, but the 19th century wave was just as uncontrolled, because America had virtually no bars to immigration in those days.

That 7% mark at least gives us something to shoot for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2006 9:47 PM

Yes, we let too many Irish come here and they almost destroyed the place by corrupting the court system. Most turned out to be terrible socialists, with the hate the empire thing and all.

The open borders crown needs more meat for the grinder I guess, have to keep that cheap labor dynamic going for fat old age retirement.

This is an immoral position as it concedes our dependent underclass will never be productive.

We need more Asians, Poles, Slavs, not Mexicans

Posted by: Perry at April 5, 2006 3:36 AM

Talk about your false dichotomies.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 5, 2006 7:44 AM

Actually, this is the sort of historical information that would be useful in making a decision.

Of course, America was a bit different and had fewer public institutions supported by tax dollars then than we do now. Hell, I don't think we had the income tax then, did we?

Oh, and I believe back then that we allowed people to shoot trespassers...

Posted by: Ptah at April 5, 2006 7:54 AM


Notice that your cohorts, like Perry, are more open about just hating Mexicans? Although your last bit about shooting them is revealing enough. Time for some soul-searching.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 8:02 AM

In earlier days, immigrants who could not meet basic requirements were turned around and sent back with little ceremony. The 10-20% who were refused entry are now staying since they've entered illegally. 19th century Irish recieved no public charity. Thankfully. They lived in squalid conditions but understood the opportunities and were out of poverty in a generation. They wanted to become Americans.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 5, 2006 8:26 AM


Quite wrong. They received services from big city Democratic machines who knew political power on the hoof when they saw it.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 8:30 AM

They benefitted from corrupt politicians true but mainly through jobs as cops and firemen.Minimum requirements for entry did need to be met, however.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 5, 2006 9:17 AM

Only after the anti-Catholic hysteria had imposed immigration limits. Kind of odd to adopt that as your model.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 9:22 AM

Health and criminal background were the minimum requirements. What's wrong with that?

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 5, 2006 10:08 AM

Mr. Judd;

Although your last bit about shooting them is revealing enough. Time for some soul-searching.
You support actions that allow shooting Iraqis, so you are now admitting that it's because you hate them?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 5, 2006 10:14 AM

I don't hate Mexicans, I think they are mostly good for the country, and I grew up in L.A. surrounded by them. But it's wrong to dismiss the genuine concerns people have about assimilation. The Irish aren't a very good analogy. Ireland was not next door, actively interfering in the immigration policies of the US. And when mass Irish immigration took place, there wasn't a racist multicultural left-wing ideology allied to Stalinist remnants and general anti-Semitism the way the Mech/Aztlan types are. We were much more committed to the notion of everyone becoming American a hundred years ago -- the notion that the polity should adjust to the immigrant was absurd. The Mecha/Aztlan types may be at the extreme, but the general multiculti tenor of public education and the elites cannot be underestimated in the damage it does, and in the assimilation it prevents, not to mention the encouragement of anti-Americanism by the elites. OJ is just picking and choosing his links here, in the most egregious manner.

Posted by: Lisa at April 5, 2006 10:41 AM


Of course we shoot insurgents because we hate them. We liberated the Iraqis because we generally love them. The exact same dynamic ought to play out in immigration. Admit the many and ban the few.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 10:57 AM


Yes, that's exactly what we said of Irish/Italian Catholics and Eastern European Jews at that time. The next group is always the unassimilable one.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 11:01 AM


Nothing. Those should be the requirements today, along with political background.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 11:04 AM


You realize, of course, that makes you a 'moderate' nativist. If they met those requirements they'd no longer be illegal. They'd

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 5, 2006 11:19 AM

They'd have been 'processed'.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 5, 2006 11:20 AM


Yes. I'm moderately hateful. People should be hated for their ideas and behavior, but not for their ethnicity.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 11:35 AM


I'm just curious why you feel Mexicans cannot be good contributors to society. You didn't have a nasty experience on your last visit to Cabo San Lucas, did you?

Posted by: Brad S at April 5, 2006 11:35 AM

"They benefitted from corrupt politicians true but mainly through jobs as cops and firemen."

I believe the term "Irish Welfare" still applies to "benefits" like this. Note that most Mexicans aren't pursuing this line of opportunity. Considering how many state/local governments are having pension/healthcare funding issues, that last part might be a good thing.

Posted by: Brad S at April 5, 2006 11:41 AM

Indeed, Thomas Sowell makes a good cause that what retarded Irish and Italiam economic dependence was precisely their dependence on such political power and largesse, that those groups who are more despised and powerless are more likely to thrive because thrown back upon themselves. Maybe Buchanan and Tancredo are just drawing the wrong conclusions from their own groups experience.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 11:47 AM

Mr. Judd;

But that's precisely what Ptah suggested and to which you objected, i.e. shooting trespassers. Ptah was clearly distinguishing between the many and the few, based on behavior. Why, then would he need to do some soul searching?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 5, 2006 12:58 PM

Does nobody here have any Irish ancestors? I don't know about yours, but I'm told the first employment mine found was, to put it delicately, in the personal-relations field. In plainer English they cracked black folks' heads, for which service they were rewarded by the Philadelphia machine in the usual way: with union jobs (police, carpenters) and the occasional ward to heel. This is Orrin's model to follow? Hilarious.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 5, 2006 1:51 PM


Because as he notes above, he'd oppose them if they were legal too. It's not about their being legal or illegal, just about their ethnicity and religion. Now, religion is a perfectly justifiable basis for opposing someone and it's why this will become a Democratic issue. They can't afford the continued importation of Christians.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 2:01 PM


Heck, we hired them for personal services too. Go to any St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC and you'll see the descendants of my grandfathers and our maids carrying flags.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 2:11 PM

The difference is clear. European immigration
and non-European immigration is different.
Maybe it's because neo-cons hate Europeans that they can't realize that.

I don't fault the WASPS for tyring to protect
the small differences, but in hindsight they
should have allowed in hundreds of thousands
more Euro-immigrants. Any excess could have
started to colonize Mexico as a pro-active step.

Posted by: J.H. at April 5, 2006 2:39 PM


Except that the lazy natives are European and the hard-workers the Latino immigrants, who are themselves descendants of earlier generations of European immigrants....

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 2:47 PM

I'd put the "Europen" content in the average
Mexican immigrant at 5% tops.

Posted by: J.H. at April 5, 2006 2:48 PM

If only we had a government department to certify racial purity, huh?

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 2:55 PM


No, no nasty experiences with Mexicans (as you put it) informing my position on this issue. My opposition is based on common sense.

I do have to admit I take some delight in pointing out the anti-human position the moralists Oj, David and others have staked out for themselves here. I call it the "old fat white guy approach to protecting your retirement" argument. Oj is on record contending we have a labor shortage because he sees for hire signs at malls and hamburger joints and obsesses that cutting meat and maid services are job Americans won't and shouldn't do.

The reality is we have millions of Americans who for one reason or another are sitting around not to working and who infact would be stupid to do "jobs nobody but down and out desperate no education immigrants" will do.

Of course this way of looking at work is sinful, the work is the reward in conservative parlance, correct?

Bottom line is we have an obligation to get the laggards working in this country and not to condemn them to a life of sitting around living of girlfriends who get welfare. Unlimited immigration of laborers will do just that. If this costs Oj more out of his retirement when he buys burgers, so be it.

When all of America is working I will be willing to let in the low wage labor, until then let the free market price labor for Americans who don't have jobs.

My common sense approach says let in the immigrant entrepreneurs like Google’s founders, not today’s equivalent of Irish ditch digger.

Beyond that, Ptah spells it out clearly. Mexico is not Ireland. Mexicans don’t change their last name to be more American. Mexicans are nationalists, socialists, on the border, vote liberal, give up there native tongue etc, etc. They have assembled a powerful national identity and are a political lobby. It is stupid not to throttle back on Mexican laborers while we have a chance.

Posted by: Perry at April 5, 2006 3:39 PM


The false dichotomy is yours. I am not anti-immigration, just anti-illegal Mexican laborer immigration.

Posted by: Perry at April 5, 2006 3:45 PM


So you agree that amesty is required so that so many of our fellow Americans aren't breaking the law and then we can all move on?

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 3:55 PM

Nevermind, I see in another comment that it is just because they're Mexicans that you don't want them here.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 3:57 PM

Yes, just as soon as you close the border down, let's talk.

Posted by: Perry at April 5, 2006 4:04 PM


No, we're going to open it wide and admit them via official channels since the only concern is legality.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2006 4:11 PM

Perry, The majority of people didn't change their names to be more American, they had their names changed for them by immigration officials who couldn't spell the difficult names from all over the world. In our family, there are numerous spellings of the same name, and thinking back to the post about India, most Indian names are daunting to spell and pronounce. I have a feeling that we'll be getting a lot of practice learning them in the near future.

Posted by: erp at April 5, 2006 4:59 PM

My ancestors were "Irish ditch diggers" on the IM canal. Ended up owning their own farms over a century and a half ago. Came in through Canada. Didn't need any patronage jobs. The Navvies and Muckers did all right for themselves and their families. Obviously, immigration needs to be controlled, but the real question is whether those who come are coming want to be citizens or just guest workers with other loyalties.

Posted by: jdkelly at April 5, 2006 7:03 PM

It's hard to take seriously the argument that "We're just too generous to let you come here."

Posted by: David Cohen at April 7, 2006 10:33 PM

It's okay for these so called illegal immigrants to build your highways, schools, court buildings, among many others. Funny to post how you hate Mexicans when you benefit from the things they build the food they prepare and so on. If you hate them so much dont use the things they build the things they prepare. Everything goes back to economics. It's all a money thing.

Posted by: Eve at April 23, 2006 9:40 PM