What to do with all those scruffy immigrants to America?

Can a country like the United States survive with a flood of immigrants with very different traditions?

They come group after group of uneducated, perhaps even dirty individuals who worship false gods and are excessively prolific enough to eventually overwhelm the existing hard working population.

They stick to themselves and desperately try to avoid being drafted into U.S. military service. Some try to use their numbers to enforce their religiously inspired views on the existing population.

The general feeling is that they report to a foreign religious leader. And many speak a strange language and cannot understand simple English.

Can the United State survive a flood of persons like this?

Well, ask the folks marking in the various St. Patrick’s Day parades today. The histories of the Irish in America and that of present day immigrant groups are very similar.

The mostly Protestant Irish were early arrivals in what is now the United States. Some fought in the Revolutionary War. But it was the potato famine in the 1840s that brought floods of poor Catholic Irish to the New World. They were not generally welcomed.

They were the uneducated who fled their own country. They clustered in the cities and became fertile ground for exploitive political leaders.

Many rejected service in the Union Army during the Civil War. Some were scammers who accepted bonuses for enrolling in military units and then vanishing, probably to spend their cash winning in the most favorite of Irish pastimes, drinking. When Union troop ships left New York harbor for the South, marine snipers were in the riggings to pick off the Irish and others who jumped into the water in an effort to swim ashore.

The subsequent generations of those who dug the canals ended up in the mines, the police forces and, curiously, in the publishing business and politics where many practiced their above-average ability with words.

The history of the New World was kind of a cold war between Protestant England and and Catholic Spain. Trade was prohibited, although much took place. So the Irish were regarded as a fifth column in Protestant America.

Sometimes they were. The St. Patrick’s Batallion switched sides during the Mexican-American war to become the Batallón de San Patricio. Many may have done so because they shared the same religion as the Mexicans. Dozens were hung as traitors at the end of the conflict. This is why México marks March 17.

The Catholic Irish in America were strong supporters of the Irish independence movements, and the United States sheltered many of the future Irish heroes. The Irish-Americans provided a significant amount of the funds to fight the British.

The British were not graceful rulers in Ireland, and even at the height of the potato famine, many food products were exported to England. Irish Catholics were offered soup if they agreed to change religions.

The British even sent Irish to the Caribbean as slaves. Then there were the deportations to Australia.

The payback for this treatment fueled more than a century of unrest. Even today in some St. Patrick’s Day parades there will be banners urging the English to get out of Ireland. This time the banners mean northern Ireland.

Generally, though, the parades are not political, and serve as a celebration of Irish rebirth in America. There is the practice of coloring beer green and those who become temporary Irish each March 17 to worship at the porcelain throne early the next morning.

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but the most successful faux Irishmen has to be John Kerry, secretary of  State.  The name was a good one to have when he was successfully running for Senate in the U.S. state of Massachusetts where many Irish-Americans live. But Kerry’s roots actually are in what is now the Czech Republic where ancestors changed their name to the Irish country before the end of the 19th century.

The question remains if current U.S. immigrants will Americanize as well as did the Irish. Some worry about the Mexicans. Others express concerns about the closed Muslim societies. Integration into the U.S. society is at the heart of the country’s immigration debate.

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