Until 1808, the southern plantation system relied upon imported foreign labor, and Arkansas even went to war to defend that economic regime in 1861. In the 1830s, Arkansas citizens such as Henry Warnell, Isaac Baker, Jesse Thompson were illegal immigrants in Tejas, but they are now considered local heroes after being killed at the Alamo in 1836 and assisting in the effort to take jobs and real estate away from Mexicans. Then in 1847, Arkansas citizens again invaded Mexico with Archibald Yell and Albert Pike as part of Zachary Taylor's Army of Occupation, helping the United States to snatch Mexican jobs and real estate in what is now California, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Nevada and Colorado.
Now things are different, and many Arkansas folks don't care for the change in migration patterns. No one remembers or cares that Arkansas was Spanish territory from 1762-1800. Northwest Arkansas politicians like Jim Holt, Jon Woods, and Steve Womack think there is much political capital in bashing Hispanic immigrants to our area and whipping up fears among descendants of the earlier Anglo immigrants who took this land from the Osage and Cherokees.
Thankfully, today's edition of The Morning News published a Special Report on immigration in Northwest Arkansas, presenting facts as well as arguments for understanding the demographic, cultural and economic facets of the current controversies. It is responsible journalism, and it is important reading. Get a copy.