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To Squat or Not to Squat

I love reading the comments section in digital news articles. They offer the most intriguing mix for insight, humor, and evil with anonymity encouraging readers to shed their inhibitions. Recently, Fox News published a liberal commentary. The oddity made me go straight from the headline to the comments. After a string of reactions about Fox turning into CNN, came the expected exchange on "the wall".

It started with a comment that everyone barring Native Americans needs to leave the country because we are all illegal relative to them. To that came this response: we are not illegals, we are squatters because we have laws. Do the illegal immigrants, seasonal workers, and asylum seekers hopping across the southern border know that they are merely a few laws from being legit?

Lest you think that we are devising irrationality like never before...

This is precisely what the Mughals did when they invaded India in 1526. They moved in, made their laws, taxed the people, and spread their wings. And then the British came with the same colonizer MO. If you google search "colonizers squatting", you'll get hits on Kenya, Virginia, Australia, Canada, Mozambique and many other regions of the world.

The English who settled in Virginia in the early 1600s, did so by asserting that they owned the land through the "rights of discovery", thereby dismissing ownership by Native Americans. A similar thing happened to the aboriginals when the British sent their convicts to Australia. When the Europeans arrived in Kenya in 1902, they devised new laws that relegated the Kenyan tribes to "African Reserves" and took the "White Highlands" for themselves. And in the gold rush (1848-55), squatters moved into unoccupied frontier land in the US claiming it as their own.

So now...

We are told that a wall is essential because border security is a must and we decline the responsibility of dealing humanely with immigrants and asylum seekers simply because we can. Depending on your news source, internet comments will convince you that the caravan in the south is minutes from ruining us or that our constitutional forefathers are turning in their graves.

Regardless of where you sit on the wall - whether it seems to be the only rational solution or you think that some barriers are needed in spots where you can't manage the inflow or you believe that American ethos is consistent with welcoming all immigrants - you cannot ignore a lesson learned from history. Neither the vast oceans nor the treacherous Himalayan mountain range - higher than any wall! - prevented the Mughal and British invasion of India.

The Native American chiefs, the princes in India, and the kings of Africa will be the first to tell you that there are no simple answers to complex problems. But politicians live on soundbites and the latest base polls. And so we remain suspended between a rock and the wall, waiting for history to play out with a new generation of squatters.

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