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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Of course Californians are pro-immigrant. Our history explains why

U.S. and Mexican flags are carried at a peace march near the border in Tijuana
The U.S. and Mexican flags are carried side by side during a march for peace near the border in Tijuana in March 2018.
(Mario Tama / Getty Images )

To the editor: It was thrilling to read the article about the recent poll of Californians in which more than 80% of us agreed with the statement that immigrants make the United States a better place to live.

As it happens, I’m a scholar of California history, and I’ve long since concluded that our state’s unique history of being a magnet for immigration from the Gold Rush on has also created a different context — not free of ethnocentrism and racism, but a context in which we necessarily have more familiarity with “the other” than in many parts of the country.

Recently I visited a friend in Sunnyvale, Calif., and we discussed this article and counted up all the ways in which we encounter immigrants, from medical personnel, to my friend’s Indian neighbors, to her Vietnamese gardener and so on.

Now, let’s hope that in our current favorable opinion of immigrants, as in many other ways, Californians represent the wave of the future.

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Glenna Matthews, Laguna Beach


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