Jack Cross’s column criticizing the Immigration and Nationality Act was terribly racist (“1965 immigration law has backfired on US,” The Daily News, July 2). Cross admits that the previous national origins quotas virtually prohibited immigration from most of the world, and was “obviously a discriminatory system.”

But he refuses to acknowledge the centrality of white supremacy throughout our immigration history. He misrepresents the origins and passage of the 1965 law. And he blames the people of color who have migrated from “undesirable” countries for the mounting social and political problems in the United States.

As Mae Ngai and other historians have pointed out, this country had virtually open borders from the American Revolution through World War I — for white people. The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited naturalization to “any alien, being a free white person” who resided here for two years. It took the Civil War, a million deaths, and the 14th Amendment to extend citizenship to formerly enslaved African Americans, whose labor had generated much of the nation’s wealth.

The massive wave of immigration from the 1830s through the 1880s brought many millions of people from Ireland and Germany to the United States. These immigrants helped build canals, railroads and roads, engaged in other productive labor, and served in the armed forces. But national chauvinism and religious bigotry led many native-born people to mistreat and even violently attack their new neighbors.

Mine owners and railroad companies in need of cheap labor promoted the immigration of Chinese workers in the mid-19th century. These workers helped extract gold, silver, and coal from the earth and were instrumental in building the Transcontinental Railroad. Hundreds of them died in the process. But virulent racism among whites led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Another massive wave of immigration from the 1880s to the 1920s involved many millions of people from southern and eastern Europe, and hundreds of thousands of people from Japan. These workers contributed significantly to U.S. industrial and agricultural development, but anti-Semitism and prejudice against Italians, Greeks, Poles, Russians and the Japanese was widespread. New federal laws in 1917, 1921, and 1924 limited future immigration from these countries.

Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965 to end the blatant racism against immigrants who didn’t come from northwestern Europe. By this time, a growing number of Americans supported equal treatment for all people, regardless of race or nationality. The new law was a major progressive advance, and Cross is wrong to focus on President Lyndon Johnson’s politicking instead of this important repudiation of racism.

The third great wave of immigration since 1965 has certainly changed the face of our country by bringing many millions of people from Latin America, Asia, and Africa to our country. But this isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean the 1965 law “backfired.” Most Americans don’t think immigrants of color are “undesirable” or responsible for problems in the economy, schools or politics. That is Cross’ racism talking.

David Michael Smith, Ph.D., is a former professor of government at College of the Mainland.

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(32) comments

David Hardee

From a publicly repudiated professor comes an article proving achieved academic credentials are totally irrelevant in assuming the bearer is worthy of respect. Claiming the “white” majority was bad for using its power needs to be evaluated. Evaluate “white” power for relevance to creating the results and practicality in the continued improvements to humanity. For all the failures and flaws in the continuance of the development of the USA and its society the end result is and has been proclaimed as the best hope for humanity. Would the result have been the same had the majority been of a different culture and color is the debate worthy of presentation. Mr. Professor – it is a given that the USA is the product of Western European, Judeo/Christian lineage – escaping Monarchy and religious persecution – utilizing the Greco-Roman based democratic governance are the known producers that got to the position of the “best hope of humanity”. Mr. Professor - line up any other conglomeration and show it would have produced a better result. Please – stop – picking pieces of history as the departure to support the claims of Victimizations today. Mr. Professor - your and other’s repudiations of “white” is the fodder creating these malcontents and activist. It is those young impressionable minds that quickly and without sufficient knowledge that are being polluted. Shame is on us for allowing the pollution.

Paul Harrington

I don't even know how to read this. You use a lot big words that don't make sense in their usage. The first line is a perfect example, a "publicly repudiated professor." What in the world does that even mean? I've read it 5 times now from start to finish and I still have no idea what your point is. It reads as if you are trying to defend the actions of what has happened in our country because that's the only way it could have gone. So, White people have the right to discriminate and try to limit other races/cultures/religions because it was founded by Western Europeans (White People) and Judeo/Christian lineage (Normal people just call them Christians) that were escaping the Monarchy and religious persecution so it's okay that they treat other cultures horribly and try to force them out. You sound like Johnny Cochran (Confuse your reader to the point they agree). By the way, a country did figure it out overtime. It's called Canada.

Carlos Ponce

"publicly repudiated professor." - He was at COM then fired. His previous columns show he is anti-Israel, pro Hezbollah, pro Hamas, against the dropping of the atomic bomb during WWII. He is a veteran, however but known for indoctrinating students in Socialism and Communism. He is a self proclaimed Marxist. I am told (by a former HISD employee) he had pictures or posters of Chairman Mao in his home.

David Hardee

Mr. Harrington - I appreciate your effort (read 5 times) to comprehend my articles theme. Some words encapsulate an entire thought pattern. Example - Using repudiate produces the same thought pattern that would have require many words to express the “he was judged by the majority of the public to have been guilty and fired.” One problem is you did not associate the professors historical record (he was effectively fired with a tremendous cost to the public coffers - Carlos cleared educated you. The intent of the professors article is to persuade the reader that the historical actions of “white” actions caused and justify malcontents to profess they are currently VICTIMS of the past “white” intentional atrocities. That is the THEME of the professor’s article. Judeo-Christian is not a person it is a culture and philosophy of a society. Please note I did not ignore that a MAJORITY society always has failures and flaws that will stifle the non-assimilated minority(s). I said that it is GIVEN who and why the country did develop. Any GIVING of a (if) different possibility is the kind of diversion that destroys any debating of the facts. The intent of the professor’s article is to destroy all the traditional culture good contributions by selectively picking events and charging vindictive RACISM as the motivation. He planted those seeds into the impressive minds of his students and continues the pollution.

Emile Pope

Ad hominem. While offering nothing to support your opinion. A waste of 1’s and 0’s...

Carlos Ponce

Interesting since Emile doesn't offer evidence to support his opinions.

Mark Ciavaglia

"That is Cross’ racism talking." David Michael Smith I have personally known Jack Cross for a number of years and worked closely with him on several community projects (school bond elections). Mr. Smith certainly has a right to take issue with the merits of Mr. Cross' writings and opinions, but to label Jack Cross as a racist is wrong.

Gary Scoggin

I agree, Mark! I may disagree with Jack on some things here and there, but I appreciate his long advocacy for good government. And he’s no racist.

Jose' Boix

Totally agree and support the statements of Mark Ciavaglia and Gary Scoggin. Jack Cross is not a racist.

Charles Douglas

Jack Cross a racist? Totally preposterous and obsurd!!! That man loves not only this country but this county and for sure, TEXAS CITY!!!

Charles Douglas

My comment was not aimed at you Mr. Boix but at the author of this Op-ed. Just to be clear.

Emile Pope

And exactly what makes your opinion a valid decision? And what do you base it on?

Charles Douglas

My opinion is as valid to me as your opinion is to you, and is based on the same God given and American rule of law which allows you as well as myself to have one. What if I told you I ran my comment by "OP" and she approved. Would that make any difference? Lolo. You are a lot of fun. Others just don't get you like I do. Lolo. Good try!

Emile Pope

As long as you understand that it's only your opinion...

Charles Douglas

True that! However you want to spin-it though,...that still makes mine as good as yours! So why are you the individual who is always referring to other individual's opinions as GARBAGE...on this forum, like your opinion is superior to any other? Lolo. That's on you ...not me!

Emile Pope

Not their opinion, their facts and supporting evidence. And it makes their position laughable...

Charles Douglas

Amen to what Mr. Hardee so eloquently stated. I would also state that the history lesson Mr. Smith provided here concerning the hardships and discriminations suffered by immigrants coming here during the times he provided are not questioned by me. I might also add that I have no reason nor motive to doubt Mr. Smith's information, but somehow I believe Mr. Cross was trying to carry us into the areas of problems that ILLIGAL IMMIGRATION is causing this country and arguably the world itself. Now, I'd like to see if Mr. SMITH will supply us with the problems this country encountered during the early times of a young America because of people coming here juxtaposed to the millions of unregulated, free flow of Illegals aliens, MS-13 and other dangerous, lawless gang members, and terrorists groups who are coming here now through open-borders and outdated, stupid, rudimentary laws exposing the citizens of this country to the evils which they bring. We are not talking about immigration here and I think a desert rock laying in the sand of New Mexico gets that! We are complaining about illegal immigration and how to stop it. Hey, but if that is successfully stopped or remedied.....where would the LEFT get their endless supply of votes! Many African-Americans are now realizing that they are as well situated with God to be successful as anybody else, same with Hispanics! That terrorizes the Left, and their open border, climate-change, make America poor, and one of the pack ideology.

Jose' Boix

Charles; no problem, we are on the same page!

Emile Pope

Simply a bunch of made up garbage...

Kelly Naschke

Ph.D. Piled higher and deeper. This man is an EX professor for a reason. Too bad that guys like Hardee aren’t in many class rooms.

Emile Pope

Or spent more time in them...

David Hardee

Snide remarks are resorted to when one finds they are intellectually deficient to join the debate.

Emile Pope

Why waste a howitzer on a squirrel when a slingshot will do...

David Hardee

Mr. Pope – I took time to review all your postings I could get from a search of the GDN data. You are a consistent producer of quips that contribute nothing more than a nuisance. Here is a response to your most recent posting. It is the last time I will read or consider any posting by you. The “howitzer” would require development beyond your capability. Your snide quips do not reach the requirements of a “sling shot”. Your contributions are equivalent to a “pea shooter” from a brain the size of the projectile. Have a nice day!

Gary Miller

Conservatives support LEGAL immigration, Progressives support lLLEGAL immigration. There really is a difference in the quality of the two. I realize the Constitution says all men are born equal. Yes equal when born but not equal after that. The constitution refers to equal under the law, not equal in learned or aquired value.

Gary Miller

MR. Cross meets the liberal definition of a racist. He disagrees with them. Nothing else counts.

Gary Miller

Equal under the law refers to the law is the same for all. Progressives are trying to change that. They believe rich and powerful progressives are less or not subject too the same laws as the poor or powerless. That wealth and power excuses them from laws regulating the powerless poor.

Charles Wiley

Jack, I know you’re ramping up to respond to Smith and you should if so inclined but I think those above have said it well. You may not need to say it again unless, of course, you really wanna bury this goofball.

Jose' Boix

In this case, the best approach is to follow the old proverb, “Speech is silver and silence is golden.” Just my thought!

Mike Meador

Smith...[sad][sad][offtopic]

Emile Pope

Excellent article...

Charles Douglas

Excellent bunch of vitriolic, mean spirited Op-ed garbage....I agree!

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