All These Immigrants
Tim Griffin

All these immigrants from Mexico, what’s all that about?
They’re always speaking Spanish and it really freaks me out
We ought build a wall or we’ll all be out of luck
And then you’ll have to get your lunch from a tasty taco truck!

All these immigrants from Italy, they wave their arms and shout
They do it in Italian and it really freaks me out
We really ought to round them up and send them back to Rome
Or soon they’ll be delivering hot pizza to your home!

All these immigrants from Ireland, it’s really quite a shame
I think they’re speaking English but it doesn’t sound the same
Deport them all to Dublin or I don’t know what we’ll do
When they’re serving fried potatoes at every drive through!

All these immigrants from Germany, they smell like sauerkraut
They’re always speaking German and it really freaks me out
Deport them all to Dusseldorf or it’ll be a shame
When our children ask for hot dogs at every baseball game!

All these immigrants from the Netherlands, they’re actually the Dutch
They settled New York first but I don’t like them very much
We really should deport the Dutch and here’s the reason why:
If we don’t ditch the Dutch, we’ll all be eating apple pie!

All these immigrants from England, what’s all that about?
They’re always speaking English and it kind of freaks me out
But they’re starving in our winter, so we’ll share our food with them
They’ll eat venison and potatoes; corn, squash, and tomatoes…
Like a real American!


There was a debate happening in the United States about whether we needed to build a big wall clear across our Southern border. A guy representing one side was making the rounds on TV, warning that if we did not build a wall we would soon have "a taco truck on every corner." Mind you, this was intended as a warning. So I wrote a song in hopes of sharing some historical context about immigration and food. Immigration is a complex issue, and reasonable people can and will disagree on what we ought to be doing about it; but you may find it helpful to know that since even before U.S. independence we have tended to follow a fairly consistent pattern:

1. A new group arrives in large numbers, usually speaking a foreign language, eating foreign food, and generally behaving like foreigners.
2. A lot of self-identified "real" Americans start to worry about whether our culture may be overrun by these immigrants, and who-oh-who will protect the "real" Americans? Speeches are spoken and actions are taken, sometimes including inhumane treatment of immigrants.
3. Eventually, the scary foreign people learn English as we learn to use some of their words (bratwurst, enchilada, ravioli); while their scary foreign food slowly becomes American food once we've had time to try it, like it, and forget where it came from. It may seem crazy that apple pie and hamburgers were once scary foreign foods unfit for real Americans, but there it is.
4. Once fully assimilated (this usually takes about three generations, and race is definitely a factor here) some of the descendants of the scary-immigrants-who-are-now-real-Americans will join the crowd complaining about how the *next* wave of immigrants is a threat.
5. Repeat for each generation as America grows larger, more diverse, and stronger; and with more good options for lunch.

Side Note: If you want to be strict about geographic origins, the only "real" Americans are the ones whose ancestors got here about 15,000 years ago. The rest of us are all immigrants or the children of immigrants, full stop. I once sang this song at a school in Arizona near a reservation, and some native American parents were giving me the stinkeye until I got to the last verse where we learn who is telling the story; whereupon they roared with laughter and decided I was okay.

Academic Standards addressed by this song:
Note that I am referring to the California History & Social Studies standards here; your state may have different expectations about which parts of American history will be taught and how. Teachers, please use your judgment.

Grade 3 (Continuity and Change)
HSS.3.3 Students draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of local historical events and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land.
HSS.3.3.1 Research the explorers who visited here, the newcomers who settled here, and the people who continue to come to the region, including their cultural and religious traditions and contributions.

Grade 4 (California History)
HSS.4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s.
Note: Most U.S. states dedicate fourth grade history and social studies to the history and geography of their state. A great way to make history feel more concrete, i.e. that the people in our history books were real people much like you and me, is to look at their day-to-day lives including what they ate.

Grade 5 (American History)
HSS.5.1 Students describe the major pre-Columbian settlements, including the cliff dwellers and pueblo people of the desert Southwest, the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest, the nomadic nations of the Great Plains, and the woodland peoples east of the Mississippi River.
HSS.5.8 Students trace the colonization, immigration, and settlement patterns of the American people from 1789 to the mid-1800s, with emphasis on the role of economic incentives, effects of the physical and political geography, and transportation systems.

Grade 8 (U.S. History and Geography: Growth and Conflict)
HSS.8.12 Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution.
HSS.8.12.7 Identify the new sources of large-scale immigration and the contributions of immigrants to the building of cities and the economy; explain the ways in which new social and economic patterns encouraged assimilation of newcomers into the mainstream amidst growing cultural diversity; and discuss the new wave of nativism.