Today is the remembrance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that officially brought the United States into World War II. As the day’s remembrances play out today, it is important to note which countries came to the defense of the United States and which were the enemy. For me, as an immigrant, it is important that the debate on immigration be held on equal footing as opposed to hate-centered political rhetoric espoused by Donald Trump and his supporters.
Donald Trump launched his political career by demonizing Mexicans. He called us “rapists” and referred to us as thieves. Trump has stated that México is a danger to the country, and, as everyone knows, he wants to build a wall along the U.S.-México border. But unlike Donald Trump’s country of heritage, Germany, México has not attacked the United States nor has its people caused the destruction of so much as the Germans did during World War I and World War II.
Instead, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, the Mexican people and México came to the aid of its norther neighbor. Because of severe labor shortages, Mexicans came to the U.S. to work under the Bracero program. But it wasn’t just the much needed work that the Mexicans filled. They enlisted in military in significant numbers. Many Mexicans, not only were awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, but many gave their lives for the cause of the Allies in World War II. Many Mexican citizens and Mexican-Americans were awarded for their valor and sacrifices during the World War and subsequent wars that followed.
México provided much needed raw materials for the war effort and fielded Squadron 201 for combat operations in the Pacific front. But most important is that México provided a much-needed safe southern border for the United States that allowed the country to focus its military resources to end Word War II as efficiently as possible.
A wall wasn’t needed then and its not needed today. What is needed is to end the demonizing of Mexicans, Mexican immigrants and México by Trump and the nativists. Only then, will the national debate on immigration become centered and what makes America great rather then in fear-based political rhetoric that is driving today’s immigration debate.