Letter: The real illegals

By The Daily Illini

An illegal immigrant – the sort of human being criticized by Chris Kozak in a recent column (“Whatever Floats Your Boat,” 4/13) – is legally defined as an individual who “enters and remains upon” the territory of another nation without permission to do so. Under this definition, the ancestors of Kozak and most other modern U.S. patriots were illegal immigrants.

In 1781, the year the United States formally began to exist, the North American continent was home to more than 300 Native nations. Armed American settlers, many migrants to our own shores, spent the next 150 years exterminating these peoples – “entering upon” their lands uninvited, settling down and killing the inhabitants. Such immigrant invasions generally occurred as direct violations of “international” treaties, thus illegally.

In addition to jacking millions of acres of land from Native Americans, ambitious Yankees also settled – and later illegally annexed – regions belonging to Mexico (Texas), Spain (parts of Florida) and various Hawaiian kingdoms. This, in retrospect, should hardly be surprising; the birth of this nation was, after all, the “theft” by American militias of a territory then legally part of the British Empire.

Americans should not, of course, be ashamed to be U.S. citizens. Most nations – current U.S. critics Germany and China come to mind – have bloody histories. Nor should our country stop patrolling the borders; the record cited above, if nothing else, shows that allowing unchecked immigration can be dangerous.

What Americans such as Kozak – who proudly stated that he “does not care” what “aliens” endure – should do is abandon the absurd idea that we have a moral right to be outraged by immigration and should not give a damn what immigrants survive to get here. The nation that once stole half of Mexico cannot, after all, truly be shocked that national boundaries can be flexible!

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Wilfred T. Reilly

graduate student