Anyone with some knowledge of American history ought to be looking at the anti-immigrant backlash and musing about how the more things change, the more they stay the same.*
The only difference between the anti-immigrant sentiment of our grandparents' time and the sentiment now is that, today, people occasionally feel stirred to preface their comments with a disclaimer about how racist they aren't. Everything else is the same: Those People don't respect our culture, speak our language, look like us, or have any loyalty to America. They live in their own neighborhoods, run their own businesses instead of just patronizing ours, send money home, take our low-wage jobs and flood our cities.
That last sentence is true, by the way, and it was true then. Eastern European Jews who immigrated in large numbers formed their own neighborhoods with their own businesses. They set up immigrant-aid societies and brought over their families and friends. They spoke Yiddish and printed Yiddish-language newspapers and broadcast radio shows in Yiddish. They were one of the immigrant groups who, in their time, filled the same space in the nativist mind that Mexicans and Central Americans do now.
We like to forget all that because, of course, we absorbed them into American culture, as we have done withevery single group of immigrants to "flood" America. Bubbe Plotzky never learned English, but her children did, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren probably learned all the Yiddish they know from Seinfeld, a mainstream American TV show. Bubbe and her nephew still live on the Lower East Side, but she has kids in Florida, California and Wyoming. And their Gentile neighbors eat bagels, knishes and challah they buy at Safeway, not at an 'ethnic' market or a 'specialty' bakery.
The people who hate and fear immigrants are insulting America and refusing to believe in the promise that's been proven time and time again: America is a country of immigrants, and when we welcome them in, we become a little like them as they become a lot like us. Mexicans are not the one group whose presence will destroy the melting pot.
Who knows, I may someday have machatunium named Humberto or Blanca, and we'll marvel at how one of the grandkids got Great-Grandma Thorlund's blue eyes and Great-Uncle Ortega's straight nose. And I'll tell them the stories of how their mother's father's parents made their way over from Russia and slipped over the border into America.
*"Plus Ça Change, Plus C'est La Même Chose" is the traditional formulation, but you know how people are about all things French these days.