When I was a boy, the sun never set on the British Empire. And in colonies like Jamaica, we were subjected to a pseudo-English culture. Our exam papers were graded in Britain, we used English pounds at the grocery store, we drove on the left side of the road in English made cars and so on.
I imagine that’s the way it was then in the other colonies.
But not in America. The American colonists had thrown off the imperial yoke and set off on their own to build a new nation.Those who didn’t like that idea emigrated to Canada, which was still a British colony.
Over the years, immigrants flocked to America,. They came at first from England and Scotland (seeking relief from religious and political persecution), then Ireland (because of the famous potato famine).
The persecuted Jewish people also found refuge in America. Later, as the flames of war engulfed their countries, Italians, Germans and other Europeans came to populate this new land.
A 1965 change in America’s immigration policy triggered an influx of Latin Americans, many of them forced from their homes by political and economic upheavals (at least partly the result of US foreign policy).
And with political instability in Asia and Africa, immigration from those regions also increased significantly.
America’s population became more diverse and its culture less “white.”
Now, two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, some Americans are trying to protect their threatened colonial culture.
With the son of a German father and a Scottish mother in the White House and white supremacists politically active across America, there is an obvious campaign in progress to retain the country’s European heritage.
An immigration bill passing through Congress reflects this trend. Under the bill – named the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act – the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States would be reduced by 40 percent in the first year and by 50 percent over a decade.
Simply slashing immigration is not the main purpose of this bill. It includes provisions specifically designed to curtail immigration from Latin America and other non-European regions.
Trump makes no secret of his motives. He used a derogatory slur recently to describe countries in Latin America and Africa and wondered out loud why America didn’t get more immigrants from Norway.
This is a big deal for America. If this movement succeeds, no longer would the Statue of Liberty welcome immigrants “yearning to breathe free,” regardless of their cultural heritage. Instead, her torch would light the way for a new wave of English speaking European colonists.
So much for the promise of that independent America in which all of the world’s people would be seen as equal.