BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – Ah, Thanksgiving! A holiday to remember when the first undocumented immigrants to America (the native “Indians”) sat down to celebrate nature’s bounty and harvest with America’s second undocumented immigrants (Pilgrims) in 1621 at Plymouth. The Europeans had a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which, according to stand-up comic and noted historian Eddie Izzard, they had left Plymouth, England in the good ship Mayflower and after 66 days of danger on the high seas, landed right Plymouth, Mass. in America. How amazing was that? I mean, they could have left from Foulmouth in Cornwall or Southhampton in Hampshire and then landed in Brighton Beach, NY and everyone would have said, “Oh, well. Good enough.” But Plymouth to Plymouth! What are the odds? Well done!

Of course, the native Indians kind of assumed the white guys were just visitors to their land and thought it a bit dodgy that the interlopers seemed to be digging in for the long haul. Many years later when those early Indians’ descendants were being rousted by President Grant out of the Black Hills – their last stronghold –  the Indians said, “Oh, so THAT’S the way it is.”

The Native Americans’ (and Native Canadians’) claim to ownership of the entire North American landmass was based on the fact that they were there first. The “We Were Here First, So This Place Is Ours Doctrine” might be legitimate but doesn’t hold up when subsequent  visitors with better technology show up at your village like heavily armed Jehovah Witnesses. Just ask the Hawaiians how swell that “We Were Here First” legal thingy worked out for them.  Or any Native South Americans who now all speak Spanish. And the Indians weren’t first to North America anyway. It was already populated by all kinds of living creatures who were doing just fine on their own. The reason the Indians were the first undocumented immigrants to North America is because they crossed the Bering Land Bridge to Alaska no elk or polar bear stopped them and said, “Show us your papers.”

And even before the Pilgrims and Indians were chowing down for Thanksgiving in the northeastern part of the continent, the Spanish had already made themselves at home in the southern part, having their own picnic in 1598 with the native inhabitants in what is now Texas. The Spanish eventually settled all over the future southwestern United States, which is why the name of every other town, village or city in California starts with “San”. But thanks to another useful little doctrine called “Manifest Destiny” America scooted the Spanish down below the Rio Grande, which is why, to this day, modern day Spanish (i.e. Mexicans) living in San Diego say, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.”

America’s territorial dispute with Native Americans was sort of worked out in a very uncomfortable manner that eventually granted the Indians legal ownership of sovereign tracts known as “Reservations” and, I believe, Blackjack, Roulette, Craps and Texas Hold’em, as well.

Dealing with the Spanish was another matter. Mexico apparently split from Spain and became its own country at some point. Eddie Izzard doesn’t say much about that period in his act so I’m not sure exactly what happened there.  But the whole “border thing” between Mexico and the U.S. continues to be problem mainly because the U.S. has never actually kept people from crossing it.  All Mexicans have to do to enter the United States is to wade across the Rio Grande and hide out where they will never be found: standing around outside of Home Depots or picking strawberries, apples, lettuce and artichokes in invisible groups of three or four hundred people. These “illegals” also work in factories, hotels and homes of rich anti-illegal immigrant U.S. citizens as maids and yard boys.

We Americans don’t want Mexicans sneaking into our country and yet we PAY THEM to do so. And we’ve been doing it for generations. If we didn’t want them here, wouldn’t we have built a fence or something a hundred years ago to keep them out?

A guy I know is outraged that so many Mexicans some to America illegally.

“How would you feel if somebody broke into your house through a window and made himself at home?” he said.

I said, “Well, if he broke into my house three times a week and I paid him pennies on the dollar to clean the place up, I’d feel swell.”

On this Thanksgiving I have to admit I don’t know what I’d do about illegal immigration. All I know that if America didn’t want folks to cross our southern border, we’d stop it. We’ve got about 30,000 soldiers keeping North Koreans from crossing the border into South Korea. And the North Koreans have nukes! Mexico only has the guns sent down there by Attorney General Eric Holder.

There supposedly are about 12 million of our undocumented southern neighbors on the premises right now. Most are Catholic and always have been (which explains why we have cities named Saint Francisco, Saint Diego and Saint Jose). Most are law abiding, other than the law they broke coming here “illegally.” Most work hard and love this country. Most remain here because we pay them to be here. The immigration problem is a problem because we allow it be.

All I know is that we can’t scoot 12 million souls back across the border and we can’t grant 12 million people blanket amnesty. Our legal system doesn’t deal with offenders in bulk. We deal with them one at a time. At some point, the individuals here illegally will have to admit to the violation and pay the price. Dangerous individuals should be sent packing. Honest, hard-working individuals who have been here for many years should be given some legal path to remain here with their families. Let them plead guilty to something. Pay a fine. Plea bargain with them. It’s the American way. Underworld hitman Sammy “The Bull” Gravano pleaded guilty to killing 19 people and through a plea bargain with the government was allowed to go into the Witness Protection Program. If the U.S. government can make a deal with “Sammy The Bull”, surely it can make a deal with “Pedro The Yard Guy” or “Maria The Maid” who actually are contributing something to this country.

As you eat any lettuce, strawberries, apples or artichokes this Thanksgiving, think about that.

 

 

 

 

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Charles Memminger is a national award-winning columnist, screenwriter and author. His first novel, "Aloha, Lady Blue" will be published nationally Jan. 22, 2013 by St. Martin's Press. Memminger is a senior writer at Communications Pacific, Hawaii's premier communications, marketing and PR firms. Memminger's commentary represents his personal views and are not affiliated with any organization. To keep up with developments regarding "Aloha, Lady Blue," like him at: http://www.facebook.com/charles.memminger. E-mail him at cmemminger@hawaii.rr.com