There seems to be an increase in these type of complaints in the wake of the controversy surrounding Arizona's decision to enact Jim Crow laws in the pursuit of illegal immigrants.
This country has never been particularly kind to newcomers despite it's invitations for anyone and everyone to drop in and stay awhile. To quote the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The original illegal immigrants were, of course, those plucky European settlers of the 16th and 17th centuries who terrorized the natives, stole their land and slaughtered any one of them who proved an inconvenience.
In the early days of the republic, indeed even in colonial times, it was the Irish who came to these fair shores only to be pushed around by the natives. They stayed and made the best of it. Then it was Germans who arrived here only to face harsh discrimination. They stayed and made the best of it. Later Italians showed up only to suffer ill treatment. They stayed and made the best of it. Finally Eastern Europeans, many of them Jews, sought a better life in America and were given a less than warm welcome. They stayed and made the best of it. Asians were next to flock to the land of the free only to be told to get lost. They stayed and made the best of it. Now it is Mexicans and others from Central and South American countries looking for a better life in the US of A. They are suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous discrimination. I venture they'll stay and make the best of it. It is as if there was a sort of unspoken hazing process for newcomers.
America is a melting pot full of xenophobes. Just as it was the home of democracy and equality and yet maintained slavery. That is to say the U.S. continues its paradoxical, contradictory utterly dumbfounding ways.
The harshest thing I can say about this country is, I believe, also one of the truest: it is a nation chock full of whiny babies. A proposed two cent tax on soda, as with any minor tax increases will get hordes of citizens off their sofas and away from their TV sets to scream "socialism!" in mass rallies. No matter who would benefit (sometimes because of) Americans will object to any raise in taxes. Indeed the very notion of any sort of self sacrifice for the greater good seems an anathema to far too many Americans. These are people who object to having to push the 1 on their telephone. It is a far cry from the US during World War II when Americans sacrificed many luxuries without complaint and gladly maintained victory gardens. And it is the polar opposite of John F. Kennedy's call for people to "ask not what their country could do for you but what you could do for your country." You could maybe press one.
I conclude with this scenario: Pedro has moved -- legally -- from Mexico to the U.S. He is gainfully employed as a carpenter. Pedro is good at his work, he's a law abiding citizen and pays his taxes. In addition to working all day he goes to ESL classes every night to improve his English. He is determined to speak and write better English. But when he calls the local cable company to inquire about a bill or a possible change in service he knows that the English voice instructions and menu will be a bit too complicated to understand. So he presses two (it's an option!) and gets all he needs to know in his native tongue. He is thus able to handle his business. Pedro hopes that someday he'll be able to push 1 for English. When that day comes, he'll be proud to do so.