Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The United States has been very good to immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants. In my lifetime, I've seen two sorts of immigration. The first, was the wave of Vietnamese people who moved into the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the 1980's. They were mostly welcomed into our communities but there were the usual fears of jobs being taken etc. Since then, the Vietnamese community has thrived here. We get to see celebrations of Tet(New Year)with all the dragons and fireworks. We have been introduced to seem very nice food. A Buddhist temple has been built.

The second wave we're experiencing is that of Hispanics. After Hurricane Katrina, these workers flooded our area and have been a great boost in our rebuilding efforts. We've seen stores start to carry more and more products with a Hispanic theme. Like the Vietnamese immigrants, these immigrants are building communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Little mercados dotting the area. I can practice the little Spanish I know.

These immigrants are not unique to our area. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, we the Mississippi Gulf Coast a wave of immigrants from Slavic countries. They built strong communities and today, some of their traditions have become a mainstay of life.

The first immigrants to the area were the French. They arrived in Biloxi in 1699.

Each wave of immigrants offers something new and exciting and is a microcosm of the United States. For we are a nation of immigrants and their ideas and some of their traditions are integrated into our society.

Each new wave is met with some resistance. The Jews who immigrated from Eastern during the early 1900's were met with suspicion. As were the waves of Irish, Italians, and Germans. And yet, somehow, the United States has always grown stronger.

It will be the same with the Hispanics. Immigrants have come to this country escaping religious and political prosecution. They come for the opportunities that this country offers. They are vital to our country.

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