| World history is replete with man's never-ending search for a better life. While it was Europe that explored the globe big time in search of it during centuries of colonization, Asia played a big role for being the source of great wealth for European conquerors.
Marco Polo's tales of China's spices, silk, rugs, and porcelain in the latter part of the 13th century, for example, drove legions to follow his route. In 1521, Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan, working for Spain, "discovered" and named a group of islands in the Pacific "the Philippines" in honor of King Philip II. Spain kept its prize until it was forced out 300 years later. The Dutch, the French, the Portuguese, and the British also started their own colonial empires in Asia. Colonization brought power to these European countries because not only did they monopolize trade, and therefore, the economy, but also governed the lives of the colonized people.
Asian countries under colonial rule, despite the documented atrocities against the natives, became close to their "mother lands" because of the dependency status that naturally arose from the relationship. During wars, many men and women in the colonies gave their lives in the service of their European masters. Many, however, were also able to go to Europe to get higher education and training. These learned illustrados became the conscience of their colonized countries and led the fight for freedom and independence from foreign rule. Centuries of subjugation and inability to chart their own country's future, however, left many Asian countries in economic and socio-political disarray years after they were "set free." Many Asians, therefore, sought to change their lives by going to their former colonizers or wherever opportunities arose.
The United States of America, a nation of immigrants who left their countries for reasons such as, political and religious persecution and economic hardship, became a magnet for many former colonized and non-colonized peoples all over the world. It has become a melting pot of sorts for people of different races, religions, and cultures. Its greatness today can be attributed to the combined contributions of its immigrant communities and their offspring. And because of its democratic ideals, educational and economic opportunities, and technological advancement, our country has kept its allure.
Now we are faced with the question of "llegal" immigration, not only from Latin American countries, but also from Asia and other continents, as well. Indeed, as an immigrant who took the legal route and waited 12 years to reunite with my family, my first reaction was: "Go through the legal route like me! Laws are enacted to keep order in our society!"
On second thought, the founders of this great country were "undocumenteds" themselves. As U.S. demographics changes, as it is increasingly changing its "color," so will our laws. My only hope is that our laws be just and inclusive.
Over a cup of tea
|Heidi M. Pascual*|
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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