We recently came across an interesting sign outside Arroyo Seco, an area in which we frequently go for walks. “Native Habitat Restoration,” it said. You see, in Southern California, a lot of vegetation is from plants and trees that are not native. They are of invasive species. The restoration aims to remove them and bring back the natives. “With the aliens taking resources, the natives can’t thrive,” they argue.
This made us think of the larger picture involving people, both natives and aliens. The vociferous opposition to new immigrants, “aliens,” is based, among other things, on belief that they take away resources from those living here already, the “natives.”
The first problem with this is who is native and who is alien. Yes, California has native Americans. In our areas, there used to be Hahamongna Indians who lived before being displaced by the aliens. First those from south (Mexico), and then from East (United States).
However, if you speak to most Californians, they would not consider themselves as aliens. They are natives. Only those who are immigrating recently are aliens, otherwise, the narrative does not work. They would not want to be uprooted so that the habitat goes back to Hahamongna Indians.
We came across a woman, an elderly local, who lamented the fact that in their zeal to restore native vegetation, the authorities had chopped of a lot of trees. She was not happy at all. The trees being chopped off were so valuable. Good for you, we said.
So, my fellow Californians, let us not get too zealous about restoring native plants at the expense of the alien ones. Listen to the argument made by the old lady we met, and apply it to the human population. We recent immigrants, the “aliens” are here to stay, and we add a lot of value to the society, just as alien plants do.