Ben Franklin worried about Germans. Hordes of white newcomers were ghettoized in the mid-19th century (they were Irish). The process would be repeated with Italians. Eastern Europeans were considered both foreign and inferior. Bigots were convinced that Cubans were a pox on a blighted city named Miami. Instead, they saved it. Vietnamese and Laotian immigrants provided a nativist crisis in the 1970s & 1980s. Said crisis hasn't been heard from in the past quarter-century. Which brings us to the current crop of short immigrants with large families and little formal education, who hail from depressed economies with high unemployment, speak a foreign language and worship a"foreign power".The invective wouldn't be so pathetic if it weren't so damn old.
Worst of all, the "modern" Right pays no attention to our record of home-grown poverty and internal mass migration. To this day, skin color provides no immunity from poverty in America. Not so long ago, poverty was simply color-blind. America was largely a "developing nation" well into the 20th century. Impoverished white people moved from Oklahoma to California for exactly the same reasons that impoverished brown people cross our southern borders today.
This post presents nine photos borrowed from Shorpy. Eight were taken by Dorothea Lange, who worked for the Farm Security Administration. Her work is a color-blind chronicle of misery, poverty and despair.
Click any image in this post to view full size
Photo and caption by Dorothea Lange.
Shorpy scholarship/detective work: a public records search shows that 535-07-5248 belonged to Thomas Cave, born July 1912, died in 1980 in Portland. Which would make him 27 years old when this picture was taken.) Dorothea Lange.
The anonymous subject of this famous Depression-era portrait known as "Migrant Mother" came forward in the late 1970s and was revealed to be Florence Owens Thompson . She died in 1983.
Photograph by John Vachon.
All photos & captions sourced from Shorpy.
Wikipedia has a decent post on the Farm Security Administration. The Wikipedia post has links to FSA photographers. Lange is probably the best known. The FSA ran an extensive photography program which can be accessed at the Library of Congress.