22 Jul The Cycle of Migration
As I was researching on the history of the C&O Canal, I came across some interesting facts that resemble todays patterns of migration and immigrant workers. According to the history of the C&O Canal, Canal board members realized that they didn’t have sufficient laborers to take on the task of building the canal. Late in 1828, the canal board decided to advertise for laborers in Europe and engaged the services of 300 stonecutters and masons from Europe. Many canal laborers came over on indenture agreements that afforded them passage to the United States in return for a specified number of years’ labor on the canal. For its part the canal company additionally offered certain wages and agreed to provide daily allotments of meat and alcoholic beverages. However, the workers felt that the company failed to follow the agreement. Movements to organize la bor had barely begin in the Nation’s industrial centers and were nonexistent in the agricultural industry. Since there was no resolution to this dispute, many workers abandoned their agreements and f led the canal project to Baltimore. To the canal company’s great consternation many of these workers secured jobs with the B&O Railroad project. Baltimore courts, surely under the influence of the city’s keen interest in the competing railroad project, made little or no effort to secure prosecution of workers on the basis of indenture agreements with the coal. There were many conflicts arising between groups of laborers and its employers from different ethnic and national backgrounds. Many of these workers continued working at the canal and railroad; however, many others fled but stayed in the country. I have always said that history contains the truth that many try to avoid and erase. In this case, the migration from a place and immigration to another has been the basis of this country. One cannot say that immigration is not necessary when history clearly shows the importance and contribution of it. As well, this shows that immigration is a business in the eyes of the government and has been happening for many years. Now a days they try to make it a crime when it was them (Government) who aided this cycle of migration with policies like the Bracero Program of 1942 and opening the border for cheap labor in the 1820s and in different occasions. Many of the large scale migration is due to three factors: social, economic, and cultural transformation. It is foolish to want to create walls and deport millions of people when they know this country was in part made of immigrants. History is simply repeating itself. The migrant workers from the 1800s are gone, but a new migration is already here and another one will come again. Immigration sets in motion a process of change that is directional, indeed non-linear, non-reversible and continuous.