My Immigration Story: The Unspoken History We’d Rather Ignore

Cecilia Muñoz, Director, Domestic Policy Council at The White House sent me an email. She wants me to share my immigration story.

This is the start of a national debate. Across the country, we’re having a serious discussion about how we can build a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

And we need your help to make sure that genuine, personal perspectives are part of the conversation. The truth is, that if we go back far enough, nearly every American story begins somewhere else — so often with ancestors setting out in search of a different life, carving out a future for their children in this place that all of us now call home.

We want to make sure that idea isn’t far from the minds of policymakers here in Washington as we work to reach an agreement to reform immigration.

(…)

So share your American stories with us, and we’ll put them to use.

We’ll publish them on the White House website. We’ll share them on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll do everything we can to make sure they’re part of the debate around immigration reform.

Get started here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration/stories

So I responded to their call. I shared my immigration story. They said they’ll publish it on the White House Website. They’ll share it on Facebook and Twitter. I doubt they actually will because it doesn’t fit their narrative. It doesn’t help them accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish.

Instead, my immigration story illustrates an real case from history. It tells of what happened when foreigners invaded the homeland of my ancestors — and what happened to our people because we didn’t enforce our borders. We didn’t stop the invasion force until it was too late. And their failure to do so has all but led to our extinction. I am one of the last of my people. Here is my story.

My Immigration Story

My ancestors were a proud people. They cared for the land, and the land cared for them. They had their challenges, as all of us do, but they survived and maintained their culture and history for thousands of years. An invasion force arrived under the banner of “colonization”. At first the new arrivals offered friendship. Eventually they began to push further and further into our lands. When we fought back we were called “savages” and were killed — slaughtered — by their superior numbers and firepower.

My Immigration Story

Soon we were a conquered people, but the invasion force created special areas for us where we could be “left alone” and live out our traditional lives. But even those promises were broken. Those parcels of land were taken from us and we were forced to move by their military whenever our allotted lands were found to have “special” value to some corporate interest.

Contrary to being left alone to live our lives on our lands, we were continually interfered with. Our laws, our sovereignty, or traditions, our culture, our way of live is now all but extinct.

So now, with history as our guide, we look back and asks ourselves: at what point should we consider “immigrants” to be an “invasion force”? A hundred illegally crossing into our borders? A thousand? Ten thousand? At what point do we stop the invasion? When is it too late?

Will this new “invasion force” some day decide to call people who don’t share their skin color “savages”? Will they decide to put them in “reservations”? Will they slaughter anyone who refuses to comply?

Those who not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We are either a nation of laws, or we are not.

We either secure our borders against unlawful entry, or we do not.

I am Paiute. You asked for my immigration story. Now you have it.

I am Paiute. You asked for “what’s at stake”. Now you know.

 

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