Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, January 15, 2018

Kevin Jennings, Los Angeles Times: For those clamoring for a wall against immigrants, it may come as a surprise to learn that there were no federal laws concerning immigration until well into the history of the United States. When people say "my ancestors came here legally," they're probably right. For the first century of the country's existence, anyone could land here and walk right off the boat with no papers of any kind ... The first federal general immigration law was enacted in 1882. It prohibited from entering the U.S. "any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge." In other words, unless you were physically or mentally incapable of taking care of yourself, you were in -- unless you were Chinese. That's because the first sweeping federal restriction on immigration also came in 1882, in the form of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

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To enforce the ban, a bureaucracy had to be created, leading in 1891 to the establishment of the federal Bureau of Immigration, the first body charged with enforcing federal immigration law.

Beyond these restrictions, however, federal immigration laws remained relatively lax: If you were an able-bodied, non-Chinese person, you could come "legally" for several more decades. You didn't have to speak a word of English or be literate in any language at all. In fact, it was not until 1917 that Congress required that immigrants pass a literacy test, and even then they could pass in any language, not just English.

When a massive influx of new immigrant groups came at the turn of the 20th century -- Italians from Southern Europe and Jews from Eastern Europe, largely -- a backlash began to build.

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And...

The concept of being an "illegal" immigrant pretty much dates back to 1924 -- less than a century ago. For most of American history, coming here "legally" meant next to nothing. And almost none of those who came here "legally" a century ago would make it across the border under today's far more stringent standards.

Baldizzi would not become "legal" until a special immigration provision was enacted to offer amnesty to mainly European immigrants who arrived without proper documentation after 1921, who had established families, and who had already lived in the U.S. for seven years. She applied for legal status under the new policy and earned her citizenship three years later, in 1948. Only then, for the first time in more than two decades, could she stop worrying about her immigration status.

What constitutes "legal" immigration has been a moving target throughout our history. Americans who crow about their law-abiding ancestors may want to learn a little more about immigration history before wishing for a return to the "good old days" -- when pretty much anyone could come to the U.S. "legally."

#1 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2018-01-14 08:13 AM | Reply

My ancestors entered after 1882. How does that fit your story dok?

#2 | Posted by Sniper at 2018-01-14 10:33 AM | Reply

Mine were dumped on the dock in the 18th century,(evicted tenet farmers from Ireland). At that time there was no law regarding immigration what so ever.

#3 | Posted by docnjo at 2018-01-14 10:57 AM | Reply

I was born here.
That is all that counts.

#4 | Posted by Federalist at 2018-01-14 11:27 AM | Reply

I was born in Kenya to an American mother, though unsure as to who my father was, through connections in government I was able to get a Hawaiian birth certificate.

#5 | Posted by visitor_ at 2018-01-14 02:27 PM | Reply

"I was born in Kenya to an American mother, though unsure as to who my father was, through connections in government I was able to get a Hawaiian birth certificate." - #5 | Posted by visitor_ at 2018-01-14 02:27 PM

How did you learn all that about yourself, visitor_?

23 and Me?

Ancestry dot com?

Or Alex Jones?

#6 | Posted by Hans at 2018-01-14 02:48 PM | Reply

#4

Do you have a point?

#7 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2018-01-14 04:11 PM | Reply

Immigrants made America great.
The epicenter of today's "--------" can be found at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

#8 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2018-01-14 04:42 PM | Reply

Ha!

It's entirely true they came here legally.

But they also had to face scrutiny at the border in the 1860's.

I have the documentation to prove this.

#9 | Posted by Tor at 2018-01-14 06:12 PM | Reply

"Ancestry dot com?
Or Alex Jones?"

Dotard reporting.

#10 | Posted by danni at 2018-01-15 09:09 AM | Reply

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"I was born here.
That is all that counts."

Then I guess you were an "anchor baby." That's all that counted.

#11 | Posted by danni at 2018-01-15 09:10 AM | Reply

I bet native Americans think differently.

#12 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2018-01-15 09:19 AM | Reply

1882? 1882? I think the world has changed a little bit since then. Just because we did things a certain way back then, doesn't mean its how we should be doing it now. I have no problem with folks immigrating to the USA but, please use the front door when you enter. And yes, we should streamline that process.

#13 | Posted by Daniel at 2018-01-15 09:23 AM | Reply

Employers want illegal immigration to remain illegal so that they can exploil illegal labor and make them work for less than they deserve for their labor. Punishing poor working people for a system designed to create second class workers is just a show to make the rest of us think they are dealing with the problem instead of creating the problem.

#14 | Posted by danni at 2018-01-15 09:40 AM | Reply

"I have no problem with folks immigrating to the USA but, please use the front door when you enter."

And really, what difference does it make for them to use other than the "front door?" If they enter the country, obey the laws, pay their own way, why does anyone care?

#15 | Posted by danni at 2018-01-15 09:41 AM | Reply

U.S. population was 50 million in 1882. Now it's 320 million. That tired old bromide "give me your poor, huddled masses" is long past its expiration date.

#16 | Posted by nullifidian at 2018-01-15 09:51 AM | Reply

"It prohibited from entering the U.S. "any convict, lunatic, idiot...""

Whew. Thank God my peeps got in before that or I wouldn't be here.

#17 | Posted by madscientist at 2018-01-15 10:13 AM | Reply | Funny: 2

funny how the right tells people who cant find a good job to move to where the jobs are but then demand walls to prevent people from moving to where the jobs are

#18 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-15 10:25 AM | Reply

I was born here.
That is all that counts.

#4 | Posted by Federalist

So were all the Dreamers.

#19 | Posted by donnerboy at 2018-01-15 03:16 PM | Reply

"Just because we did things a certain way back then, doesn't mean its how we should be doing it now."

Kinda like the way we interpret the 2nd Amendment, as though it was still 1776?

#20 | Posted by donnerboy at 2018-01-15 03:17 PM | Reply | Funny: 1 | Newsworthy 1

A historian has discovered a royal decree issued to Donald Trump's grandfather ordering him to leave Germany and never come back.

Friedrich Trump, a German, was issued with the document in February 1905, and ordered to leave the kingdom of Bavaria within eight weeks as punishment for having failed to do mandatory military service and failing to give authorities notice of his departure to the US when he first emigrated in 1885.

Roland Paul, a historian from Rhineland-Palatinate who found the document in local archives, told the tabloid Bild: "Friedrich Trump emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1885. However, he failed to de-register from his homeland and had not carried out his military service, which is why the authorities rejected his attempt at repatriation."

The decree orders the "American citizen and pensioner Friedrich Trump" to leave the area "at the very latest on 1 May ... or else expect to be deported".

The Guardian

#21 | Posted by Derek_Wildstar at 2018-01-15 04:14 PM | Reply

I was born here.
That is all that counts.
#4 | Posted by Federalist
So were all the Dreamers.

#19 | POSTED BY DONNERBOY

Somehow I must have missed something Donner, because I was under the idea that the dreamers were brought here illegally while too young to have made the decision themselves. If they had been born here there would be no reason to worry. They are automatically granted citizenship when born on US soil.

#22 | Posted by justagirl_idaho at 2018-01-15 04:29 PM | Reply

That was back when people understood that everything grows from the bottom up. Our economy requires and always will require a lot of low level jobs to be filled where basically any warm body will do. The question is whether we allow companies that cannot function without these jobs being filled to hire workers and take full advantage of their labor but not provide them with a wage that can provide basic necessities.

If a company is going to demand 40 hours of a persons time they owe them a minimal lifestyle.

#23 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-16 11:36 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#23 - Hatters183

Define minimal lifestyle.

#24 | Posted by gavaster at 2018-01-16 11:38 AM | Reply

Mexicans in California let Americans immigrate to their country, and look how that turned out for them!

Now Nulli wants them to go home.

#25 | Posted by Corky at 2018-01-16 11:54 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#23 - Hatters183
Define minimal lifestyle.

#24 | POSTED BY GAVASTER AT 2018-01-16 11:38 AM

I'll defer to Roosevelt

In his 1933 address following the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that "no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country."

"By ‘business' I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level  --  I mean the wages of decent living," he stated.

"Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company's undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders' money to pay the postage for his personal opinions -- tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry." (1938, Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage)

#26 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-16 12:05 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

#26 - HATTERS183

Still way too broad. Is this a single adult? Is this a married individual with two kids with a 3/2 home and 2 cars in the drive with all the latest electronics? Give me a number, not a concept, and let's put it to paper to see what you'd need to pay the cashier at McDonalds.

#27 | Posted by gavaster at 2018-01-16 12:17 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Excess is the cause of almost all restrictions you will ever encounter. At some point, a system of any kind can't sustain itself if it grows too fast or the system itself isn't meant to handle the excess. My work used to give free lunches to all employees. That went away because it became unsustainable. It doesn't mean the company hates its employees and never wants to give them anything. It just means as the years went on, things changed. The parameters in which we operate changed. If an employee decided to start stealing food from the refrigerater, guess what...that person would be punished. To many people on this site, they think the person should be able to eat anything at the company for free or spend the compnay's money to buy their lunches because they USED to get free lunches...not even if that person is poor and can't afford lunch. Sorry, logic doesn't work that way. Hell, common sense can't even make that argument different.

"no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country."

And he's right...except for this little thing called "number of workers in the US". Yeah, companies can pay living wages to all of its employees but then we'd have a lot less people in America working right now. What do you want, 50% of the people making a living wage or 100% of the people employed making the wages that supply/demand economics allot? Sure, in the perfect unicorn and rainbow world that many Democrats think they live in, they think it's possible to marry the two. But it's not. You either work in reality or you are just a party who creates laws based on what would be best for everyone regardless if it's actually possible.

#28 | Posted by humtake at 2018-01-16 12:26 PM | Reply

Still way too broad. Is this a single adult? Is this a married individual with two kids with a 3/2 home and 2 cars in the drive with all the latest electronics? Give me a number, not a concept, and let's put it to paper to see what you'd need to pay the cashier at McDonalds.

#27 | POSTED BY GAVASTER AT 2018-01-16 12:17 PM |

Do you agree with the concept? If not then no number will mean anything in this conversation.

#29 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-16 12:26 PM | Reply

#29 - HATTER5183

Cop-out. The concept is what is up for discussion. This is a part of it, discussing whether or not the ideal is attainable or fantasy. You believe it is. I am skeptical. I want to see what the new minimum wage should be to see what my next cup of coffee would cost.

#30 | Posted by gavaster at 2018-01-16 12:35 PM | Reply

Not a cop-out at all. Do you believe that companies should be allowed to employ a person in a job that cannot support the worker?

How is it okay for a company on one hand to claim they can't afford to pay their employees more but simultaneously claim record profits?

If you don't believe that jobs should be required to support the worker, pay becomes completely arbitrary for all low skill labor.

#31 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-16 03:10 PM | Reply

#22 | Posted by justagirl_idaho

Yer absolutely right Idaho girl...you didn't miss a thing... good catch and thanks for the "correction".

I think I was reading about the Russian anchor babies when I posted that and guess I got them mixed with Dreamers.

#32 | Posted by donnerboy at 2018-01-16 04:04 PM | Reply

#31 - HATTERS

I believe a job's pay should start at what is required for 1 individual to live and pay for their living. But by living wage I don't mean the American dream. I believe there is room in our market for jobs that do not pay enough to support 4 people on 1 income. I believe in giving businesses the freedom to determine the value of labor to their company and also in promoting higher wages for low skilled workers through taxation. I believe in big businesses utilizing the economies of scale to providing more and better services to a greater number of people so that simple pleasures are not reserved for merely the elite, thus raising the standard of living for the most individuals possible. I believe in giving startup businesses a chance to bring goods and services to market sparking innovation and entrepreneurship. And to do so requires not straddling new businesses with high labor and benefits requirements for employees. Such a policy would effectively stifle bootstrapped startups.

Also, you can't conflate the record billions being made by giant corporations to the profit of your local coffee shop run by a guy living in the neighborhood. A 50% profit margin for a local coffee shop may be a $40k annual salary for the owner, but a 3% profit margin for WalMart ends up being $1.5 billion per day for shareholders. All businesses are not created equal. There are industries operating on bare minimum margins. Quadrupling the labor rates for those companies would rocket prices, decrease competition, accelerate job losses to automation, and relegate services we've taken for granted to the realm of the elites of society. But if you want to shoot for record breaking year over year inflation, take off thunder. To, as you seemingly suggest, balance the record profits of big businesses with increased wages, the scenario would require a massive transfer of business profits from big businesses to small businesses. In essence you'd need to subsidize startups with tax credits paid for by taxes on big businesses.

If you believe minimum wage jobs should pay enough to support a family and provide for enough to fulfill the American dream I suggest looking at a universal basic income. Why require someone to work? Being alive should justify an income.

#33 | Posted by gavaster at 2018-01-16 06:11 PM | Reply

I was born here. - #4 | Posted by Federalist
So were all the Dreamers. - #19 | Posted by donnerboy at 2018-01-15 03:16 PM

Hahahaha. That's just too much. Why do people insist on thinking that their ignorant point of view is just as valuable as someone's informed point of view?

In a posting about immigration, donnerboy shows up and doesn't know what a dreamer is, and makes a grand, but false, statement.
Undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, a group often described as Dreamers.
And I mean ignorant in the most literal sense. You have every opportunity to fix that issue, donnerboy.

#34 | Posted by Avigdore at 2018-01-16 07:26 PM | Reply

If a company is going to demand 40 hours of a persons time they owe them a minimal lifestyle. - #23 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-16 11:36 AM
What company demands 40 hours? Many company offers 40 hours of work in exchange for 40 hours of agreed-upon pay.

#35 | Posted by Avigdore at 2018-01-16 07:28 PM | Reply

a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry." (1938, Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage) - #26 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-16 12:05 PM
$11 a week in 1933 is the equivalent of
$202.73 in 2017.
If you want to push for $5 an hour, have at it.
Or realize that what you're asking for is already exceeded in modern USA.

#36 | Posted by Avigdore at 2018-01-16 07:34 PM | Reply

Sorry, 1938 that $11 was only $184.43 in 2017.

#37 | Posted by Avigdore at 2018-01-16 07:50 PM | Reply

What company demands 40 hours? Many company offers 40 hours of work in exchange for 40 hours of agreed-upon pay.

#35 | POSTED BY AVIGDORE AT 2018-01-16 07:28 PM | REPLY |

When you say agreed upon you imply there was a negotiation process. For most jobs there is no negotiation. The pay is dictated by the company.

Only union shops have negotiated pay rates.

#38 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-17 09:17 AM | Reply

For most jobs there is no negotiation. The pay is dictated by the company.

The negotiation is whether or not to accept the terms dictated by the company. Nobody is forced to take a job they don't want.

#39 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-01-17 09:20 AM | Reply

"The negotiation is whether or not to accept the terms dictated by the company."

Some negotiation, when take it or leave it is the first foray.

#40 | Posted by Danforth at 2018-01-17 09:23 AM | Reply

Also, you can't conflate the record billions being made by giant corporations to the profit of your local coffee shop run by a guy living in the neighborhood.

#33 | POSTED BY GAVASTER AT 2018-01-16 06:11 PM

I'm not even comparing those.

I am talking about large corporations like Walmart and McDonald's who are declaring huge profits while simultaneously directing their employees to seek government assistance.

IMHO any company whose employees need government assistance to survive long enough to get to work the next day should have any profits taxed at 100% to help pay the taxpayer cost of sustaining their work force

#41 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2018-01-17 10:46 AM | Reply

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