"We Didn't Cross The Border, It Crossed Us": The Truth About Migrating Nations
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"We Didn't Cross The Border, It Crossed Us": The Truth About Migrating Nations

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By: Oliver G. Alvar

March 27, 2019

What's on "We Didn't Cross The Border, It Crossed Us": The Truth About Migrating Nations
Avatar of Oliver G. Alvar

By: Oliver G. Alvar

March 27, 2019

America, like most other imperialistic nations, is not only a nation of migrants. It is itself a migrant nation. And it’s a problem when they demand that, tough their borders crossed others, none should cross their borders. Here’s the truth about migrating nations like America.

There is a special moral responsibility for the inhabitants of historically imperialistic nations. In recognizing the history of their country, they should also acknowledge that their imperialistic past has brought a special and inevitable set of circumstances. Conquer the world through colonization (Britain) or active intervention and globalization (US), and you must expect that immigration would follow. You can't have one without the other—or rather, you shouldn't expect one without the other.

The US took over Mexican territory, and there's a special connection between that and the fact so many Latinxs want to migrate there today. Americans can’t pretend to be surprised, lest they are seen as willfully neglectful of history itself. Here’s the (hopefully obvious) truth about migrating nations like America.

the truth about migrating nations like america
On a related note: These Are The Happiest Countries On Earth, According To The World Happiness Report
the truth about migrating nations like america

A migrant nation

The U.S. is not only a nation of migrants. It is itself a migrant nation. America, like most other countries throughout their history, has moved its borders on several occasions, thus undermining many communities and their identities in the process. We tend to think of nations as these grand entities whose borders are somehow “sacred before the law,” unmovable, and set by some sort of “natural” or “divine right.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Nations have been forged by blood and conquest, by illegitimate means on top of which an air of naïve legitimacy is built thereafter. There’s nothing natural about nations.

It is not divine law that entitles America to protect its borders. It is mere social stipulation. Nothing “grounds” a nation’s frontiers beyond some arbitrary historical accident, which itself was generally brought about illegitimately. Such is the story with the U.S. and its southern borders, at least. The notion of “America” is constructed—not God-given.

the truth about migrating nations like america

With bloody beginnings

Suddenly, upon accepting this common-sense truth, we come to the realization that the historical accident which brought our nation about might also entails, in itself, a horrible set of circumstances—a moral wrong. Europeans invaded and killed thousands in order to establish their colonies. Colonists exploited labor and vulnerabilities in order to forge the foundations on which America now stands. Those foundations didn’t come about through the sweat and hard work of American ancestors. They came about through murder, kidnapping, slavery, and genocide.

As America was being built, so its borders started to expand. Even as little as a few generations ago, people who never moved, who never migrated anywhere, got caught up in the political expansion of a nation which now seems to deplore migration and foreigners, not realizing, for some convenient reason, that often it was America, and not “foreigners,” that wrongfully invaded. It is like illegally building a fence around your neighbor’s home, and then complaining that he is trespassing.

the truth about migrating nations like america

This is also interesting: No, Thanks: Why I Wish I Weren't An American Citizen

“The border crossed us”

That has happened to many, from Native-Americans to families who live near the southern border of the U.S. People who are still today seen as aliens if they dare walk down the street. Whole communities who are still today regarded as immigrants of a nation, when in fact the nation is the one migrating. “My family didn’t cross the border,” said American actress Eva Longoria, “the border crossed us.” To the sounds of applause, the actress continued,

“I’m from a small town in south Texas. And, if you know your history, Texas used to be part of Mexico. Now, I’m 9th generation American. So, when Donald Trump calls us criminals and rapists, he’s insulting American families. My father is not a criminal or rapist. In fact, he’s a United States veteran.”

U.S. citizens need to recognize where they come from, and what others had to sacrifice—unwillingly, most of the time—for them to get there. It was not the merit and accomplishment of your ancestors. It took someone else’s blood. It took someone else’s work. It took someone else’s life.

And now, even after invading and expanding their borders and conquering through death and fire, many citizens of imperialistic nations like America and the United Kingdom are demanding through Brexit and Trump that, tough their borders crossed others, none should cross theirs. At least, none whom they don’t care for—often on a racial basis. That is the epitome of irony.

the truth about migrating nations like america

Another important note: The Unexpected Link Between Migration And Climate Change, And Other Global Effects

Colonization is still happening

And it’s not just territorial conquest. Economic colonization is still happening. Globalization is the new driving force, through the so-called free market economy, which is expanding the cultural borders of Western nations. The West thrives with that. America thrives.

But, you see, globalization—our insatiable thirst to bring our products, our industry, our books, our inventions, our shows and movies, our very culture into every corner of the world—will invariably lead to migration. The world now knows the “paradisiac West,” sold through ads and magazine covers, and many thus covet which we so aptly promote.

the truth about migrating nations like america

We cannot be surprised, if we sell a country as the greatest on Earth, that people would want a piece. But then we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to reap the rewards and wash our hands of the inevitable consequences. This is the new form of imperialism. And it’s tearing us apart.

So, yeah. You can’t expect to conquer the world, either through war or economy, and demand that you be left alone afterwards. It doesn’t work like that—nor should it. And so, there is a special moral responsibility for the inhabitants of historically imperialistic nations: they should at the very least acknowledge that their nations brought it upon themselves to expect immigrants in the first place. Once we acknowledge that, well... We’ll see where it gets us.

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