2 Canals

by Mark on May 3, 2010

The Erie Canal is a couple miles from our home. When walking along the towpath past cafes and gift stores I think about my ancestors that either dug this canal or traveled along this water highway to Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and West. Immigrants, like the Weber’s, Clark’s and Ryan’s, landed in New York, went North to Albany on the Hudson, and West on the Erie Canal without a passport or other identification documents.

On Sunday 60 MINUTES investigated the All-American Canal, a deep concrete ditch delivering water from the Colorado River to the California Imperial Valley. It also runs along the U.S. – Mexican border. During the last five years over 800 Mexicans drowned in the canal trying to enter our country. The desert cemetery for them includes parents and children who died with the hope of becoming American. There are no ladders, ropes, buoys or life rings to help someone drowning. Politicians in California shrug their shoulders on the deaths with no intention of offering any help. Unlawful immigrants make the choice to swim across the canal. Why help them? By the way, crossing the border without the right documents is a misdemeanor, like a speeding ticket.

Back at the Erie Canal I wonder about today’s American perspective at who should be here or not. If someone threw our ancestors off the boat before Ellis Island appeared on the horizon, if they did not provide the right documents, where would we be? Even those on the Mayflower came to America without passports seeking freedom. Sure, after 9/11 and the latest terror plot in Times Square, many are nervous. History tells us at the peak of the late 19th century European immigration there were concerns about terrorism and anarchists, after one shot President James Garfield. No one closed American borders or pulled the plug on the Erie Canal

We are all lucky to be here. Our politicians need to develop new laws to help others feel the same way.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Patti McCann Parks May 3, 2010 at 10:16 am

Talking about immigration opens a whole can of worms. I lived in Chicago for 4 years with many Mexicans and other Hispanics (all illegal). The stories of their passage to the US and the “coyotes” were sometimes frightening.

I have recently begun researching my ancestry and I have found that the Litchfields came over shortly after the Mayflower, in the 1600’s. The rest of the family, on both sides, have come more, relatively, recently. But what is ironic is that, maybe, it is the Native Americans who should have been standing at the ports saying “Hell NO! you can’t come here and take our land for your own. You can’t push us from our land and change our way of life.” My Irish side came during the Potato Famine, or shortly after and they were escaping the English absentee landowners who had taken their land.

It always comes back to land and the ownership of it and protecting what you already have.

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