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October 22, 2015

Illegal European immigrants in North America

Scott Stockdale

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While the public's attention in Canada and the United States was focused on the hundreds of thousands of people migrating to Europe from Syria and other troubled spots in the Middle East and North Africa, many of those watching the crisis unfold, safely out of harm's way, fail to remember that their forebears once migrated to the land their current-day descendants now claim as their own.

European colonization of North America began in the 16th and 17th centuries, when arrivals from France, Spain and England first established settlements on land that had been inhabited by native peoples.

Despite the large number of Europeans inhabiting the United States, many scholars regard their colonization of the indigenous land from the 16th century as illegal.

Meanwhile, the descendants of those who lost their land to the European settlers have not forgotten. 

At a Dec. 14, 2104 meeting of the Native Peoples Council (NPC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Native American leaders considered several proposals on the future of this continent's large, unauthorized European population. The elders ultimately decided to extend a pathway to citizenship for those without criminal backgrounds.

Subsequently, at a recent meeting in Taos, New Mexico, Native American leaders weighed a handful of proposals about the future of the United State’s large, illegal European population. After a long debate, NANC (Native American National Council) decided to extend a road to citizenship for those without criminal records or contagious diseases.

“We will give Europeans the option to apply for Native Citizenship,” explained Chief Sauti of the Nez Perce tribe. “To obtain legal status, each applicant must write a heartfelt apology for their ancestors’ crimes, pay an application fee of $5,000 and, if currently on any ancestral Native land, they must relinquish that land to NANC or pay the market price, which we decide.

“Any illegal European who has a criminal record of any sort, minus traffic and parking tickets, will be deported back to their native land. Anybody with contagious diseases like HIV, smallpox, herpes, etc, will not qualify and will also be deported.”

While it's often said that the victors write history, it's taken for granted that they also  write the legal system that keeps them in power; and they then interpret the laws they've written. 

Nevertheless, the land not just in the United States, but also here in Canada, remains in dispute. Thus the Canadian government spends more than $100 million a year in legal fees challenging the rights of the indigenous peoples whose interests they are sworn to protect under Canada's constitution.

With 800 outstanding land claims, it's apparent that Canada's treaty promises to share the land and the resources with the indigenous peoples and honour their inherent rights to self-government remains before the courts, with no end in sight.

While progressive native groups welcomed the council's decision as a step forward toward normalizing relations with the White community, many conservative Native Americans are upset about the plan, claiming that amnesty will only serve to reward lawbreakers.

"Why can't we just deport all of the Whites back to Europe?" asks Ité Omáǧažu of the Lakota people. "They're just a drain on our economy anyway. They came over here to steal our resources because they're too lazy to develop their own back home.

"I can't believe we're just going to let them pay a fine. They should get to the back of the line like everybody else -- behind the Mexicans."

However, at the moment, it appears those with more tolerant views of immigrants still have a voice:  Chief Wamsutta of the Wampanoag nation is offering the White settlers a chance to stay.

"We are prepared to offer White people the option of staying on this continent legally and applying for citizenship," explains Chief Wamsutta of the Wampanoag nation. "In return, they must pay any outstanding taxes and give back the land stolen from our ancestors.”

With back taxes and stolen lands likely to involve disputes between the native peoples and the white settlers, the settlers can take comfort in the fact that it will be their court system that adjudicates the claims because they are the victors who confiscated the native peoples' land, in accordance with the settlers' “rule of law” of course.

Sustained European colonization of North America began in the 16th and 17th centuries, when arrivals from France, Spain and England first established settlements on land that had hitherto been occupied by native peoples.

Over the past 400 years immigrants from these countries and others throughout Europe have transformed the demography of the continent. Ironically, some of the descendants of these immigrants and now worried about the influx of immigrants and have been for generations.

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