Immigration in America
This land is your land, this land is my land from California to the New York Island.
--Woody Guthrie, 1956
When the Mayflower arrived off the coast of New England on November 21, 1620, the Pilgrims first took shelter on a small island where they sought safety from Native Americans and foul weather. While there they also observed the Sabbath. A few days later when they landed at Plymouth Rock, one of their first acts was to break the 8th Commandment by stealing the corn they found stored in the ground, put there by Native Americans for planting. After finding their stolen bounty not to their liking, they concluded that the same soil that had sustained the natives for 40,000 years was unsuitable for their tastes, so they moved on praising God for His kindness and mercy while seeking new land to take, or not, as they chose.
Similar scenes showing the Pilgrims’ arrival suggest a land just waiting for them, made available to them by Destiny. The early scenes completely ignore the fact that this land was already occupied by one million native people. By the 1840s, however, natives were absent from all landing scenes, reflecting our forebears’ growing indifference to the natives’ very existence, and an implicit denial of their history, their tradition, and their right to their own land.
Thus began the colonization of America by Europeans and the emerging idea of a "Manifest Destiny" as the new Americans began their push to the Pacific Ocean. Neither the Pilgrims nor our school textbooks, however, noted that the Native Americans who were so feared by the Pilgrims had been living here in peace for tens of thousands of years even before the Egyptian pyramids were built. Other un-notable aspects of this new land were the absence of guards or border patrols; there were no fences, no passports or visa requirements. Indeed, the Natives had not even partitioned the land, nor did they have myriad documents that detailed how, when, where, why and under what circumstances new arrivals could move about, settle, and raise their families. By one reckoning, this was Utopia, a model land of how humans could live in peace and in harmony with each other and with nature. By another, this was a “diamond in the rough”—a gem ready for the taking to be cut, polished, and converted in a manner and for purposes known only to the settlers.
Ours is a history that is rife with contradictions, of good intentions flowing from a Puritan ethic on the one hand, and of inhumane acts against Native Americans, Blacks, Japanese, and Mexicans on the other. It is also a history of innovation, technological wonders, democracy, and the rule of law. Somewhere in the middle there remains a moral chasm, one that separates our righteous rhetoric and our moral indignation about violations of our immigration policy today, as distinct from our own immoral deeds surrounding our illegal invasion of this land and our outrageous conduct toward those we now love to hate. It is a divide that challenges us to rethink who we are and who we want to be. It compels us to ask “Do we still have the courage, the honor, and the humanity stated so eloquently in our Declaration of Independence?” Or have we fallen victim to Santayana’s warning: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?” 
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Our textbooks tell us that the European settlers came here in search of religious freedom. Many were also fleeing from centuries of religious persecution under a reign of terror of church/state alliances showcased by the “Inquisitions.” But in spite of whether they were running “from” religious tyranny, or running “to find” religious freedom, the early settlers had no legal rights to this new land at all. Indeed, they had no moral, intellectual, spiritual, or any other kind of rights to it. So they had to invent a justification for taking the land from the Native Americans. Their justification was to resort to an old bit of trickery: Why not convert them—at least in their minds—from peaceful human beings into subhuman savages, rapists, and drunks?
First, they had to demonize them. But they were a friendly bunch. They had taught the settlers how to fish, and farm, and hunt. It’s hard to beat up friends like that and take their possessions. That is neither neighborly nor Godly. So they had to whip up a hate-frenzy among their own people. To achieve that end, the settlers resorted to name calling, starting with “Injuns,” and then moving on to “savages.” They also found that liquor was quicker, so they introduced them to “firewater.”
The Ignoble Savage: The Drunken “Injun”
Native Americans did not have alcohol as a significant part of their culture except as religious offerings in parts of the Southwest. In the main it was introduced to them by the settlers. Alcohol was and remains one of the major factors in the downfall of their culture. The settlers used it to cheat, exploit and slaughter the natives for political and monetary gains. Later on, the natives got so used to alcohol that complete recovery from it became almost impossible. The change in lifestyle which was induced by alcohol, led to their social and cultural devastation. ,
“You take one barrel of Missouri River water, and two gallons of alcohol. Then you add two ounces of strychnine (poison) to make them go crazy—because strychnine is the greatest stimulant in the world—and three plugs of tobacco to make them sick—an Indian wouldn’t figure it was whisky unless it made him sick—and five bars of soap to give it a head, and half a pound of red pepper, and then you put in some sagebrush and boil it until it’s brown. Strain into a bottle, and you’ve got Indian whisky; that one bottle calls for one buffalo robe and when the Indian got drunk it was two robes.” 
The Destruction of Native Culture
Native Americans not only numbered nearly 1,000,000, they spoke some 300 different languages. Their ancestors had crossed the land straits from Asia in what may be considered the first North American immigration. Although they posed no threat to anyone, they were virtually destroyed thousands of years later by the subsequent European immigration that created the United States. It is a tragic tale, the direct result of lies and deceit; of treaties, written and broken by the United States government; a deliberate genocide against a people whose only “wrong” was that they were here first.
In a series of treaties and broken promises, the Native Americans were systematically partitioned and moved westward by the U.S. government. History books document the fighting by these names: Powhatan Uprising of 1622; the Sand Creek Massacre; King Philip’s War Against the New England Colonists; the Black Hawk War; the Battle of White Bird Canyon, Fetterer's Fight; and Guadalupe Canyon. By 1786, the United States established its first Native American reservation and partitioned each tribe as an independent nation. This policy remained intact for more than one hundred years. But as President James Monroe noted in his second inaugural address in 1821, treating Native Americans this way “flattered their pride, retarded their improvement, and in many instances paved the way to their destruction.”
In addition, Monroe observed that America’s westward growth “has constantly driven them back, with almost the total sacrifice of the lands which they have been compelled to abandon. They have claims on the magnanimity and…on the justice of this nation which we must all feel.” Despite Monroe’s apparent concern for the plight of Native Americans, his administration removed them from all the states north of the Ohio River.
In the 19th century, the Westward expansion of the United States compelled large numbers of Native Americans to resettle further west, often by force, almost always reluctantly. Under President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the President to conduct treaties to exchange Native American land east of the Mississippi River for lands west of the river. As many as 100,000 Native Americans eventually relocated in the West as a result of this Indian Removal policy. In theory, relocation was supposed to be voluntary (and many Native Americans did remain in the East), but in practice great pressure was put on Native American leaders to sign removal treaties. Arguably the most egregious violation of the stated intention of the removal policy was the Treaty of New Echota, which was signed by a dissident faction of Cherokees, but not the elected leadership. The treaty was brutally enforced by President Martin Van Buren which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 Cherokees in the slaughter called the Trail of Tears.
Today, many Americans see the policies and actions of the past with innocent eyes. Rarely do we wonder how this nation's indigenous population became an "inferior" culture in their own land, or how our ancestors could have committed such atrocities in the name of an invented slogan acted on as a God-given right. Nor do we question whether it was or is acceptable today to make national decisions without involving those who will be most affected in the process. It is a story apparently without end.
The Slaughter at Wounded Knee
Native Americans have endured many tragedies. The disaster at Wounded Knee in 1973 is a case in point. Its origins, however, began more than 100 years ago. More than 300 Sioux were slaughtered at Wounded Knee in 1890 when a gun was accidentally discharged while Chief Big Foot was negotiating with Army officials.
The incident was over something as innocuous as a religious practice called the Ghost Dance. While dancing, the Native dancers wore brightly colored shirts emblazoned with images of eagles and buffaloes. It was a dance they believed would protect them from the bluecoats' bullets. Apparently this dance frightened Washington officials. They set out to stop it, but managed only to kill hundreds of innocent men, women, and children.
In 1973 the Sioux returned to Wounded Knee. Another siege ensued. After 71 days, the siege came to an end with the government making nearly 1200 arrests. But this would only mark the beginning of what was known as the “Reign of Terror” instigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. During the three years following Wounded Knee, 64 tribal members were unsolved murder victims, 300 harassed and beaten, and 562 arrests were made, and of these arrests only 15 people were convicted of any crime.
European explorers not only ravished the lands and the natural wealth of the Americas; they also traveled to Africa, where they began a trans-Atlantic slave trade that would bring millions of Africans to the Americas as well. This slave trade would, over time, lead to a new social and economic system: one where the color of one's skin could determine whether he or she might live as a free citizen or be enslaved for life.
Slavery was a legal institution in all of the 13 American colonies. A majority of the founding fathers owned slaves, including Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence; Hamilton, the father of the Constitution; and Washington, the commander of the Continental Army.
During the very first years of slavery in the 17th century, blacks experienced a period of relative racial tolerance and flexibility that lasted until the 1660s. A surprising number of Africans were allowed to own land or even purchase their freedom. Racial lines had not assumed the rigidity that they would subsequently acquire. White and black servants worked together, received the same punishments, and plotted escapes together. Blacks fathered about one third of all the illegitimate children born to white servant women. In 1677, at the end of Bacon's Rebellion (a revolt against Virginia's royal government), the last holdouts were 20 white indentured servants and 80 black slaves.
Beginning in the late 1660s, colonists in the Chesapeake colonies of Maryland and Virginia imposed new laws that deprived blacks, free and slaves, of many rights and privileges. At the same time, they began to import thousands of slaves directly from Africa. Yet slavery remained dispersed and decentralized. Even the wealthiest Chesapeake planters tended to divide their estates into many separate quarters where small groups of slaves lived and worked.
A journalist later coined the lofty term, Manifest Destiny, as their God-given principle for laying claim to whatever they saw and wanted.
This phrase was used as an early justification for the United States to expand westward by simply taking land and annexing it on the belief that it was our obvious and certain destiny to do so. It was based on the belief in the natural superiority of the Anglo-Saxons and their God-given mission to promote democracy throughout the world. It was used in the 1840s and 1850s as the justification for taking the land now called Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado from Mexico. Manifest Destiny was a close cousin to the Monroe Doctrine, a doctrine that warned the rest of the world to “Stay Out: The Western Hemisphere is no longer open to colonization by others.”
The Civil War and Emancipation
In his inaugural address in 1861, Lincoln proclaimed that it was his duty to maintain the Union. He also declared that he had no intention of ending slavery where it existed, or of repealing the Fugitive Slave Law -- a position that horrified African Americans and their white allies. One month later, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War had begun.
Lincoln insisted that the war was not about slavery or black rights; it was a war to preserve the Union. His words were not simply aimed at the loyal southern states: Most white northerners were not interested in fighting to free slaves or in giving rights to black people. Still, many African Americans wanted to join the fighting and continued to put pressure on federal authorities. Even if Lincoln was not ready to admit it, blacks knew that this was a war against slavery.
Slaves escaped the South by the thousands. They were declared “free” as contraband. In the meantime, the North was refusing to accept the services of black volunteers and freed slaves, the very people who most wanted to defeat the slaveholders. In addition, several governments in Europe were considering recognizing the Confederacy and intervening against the Union. If Lincoln declared this a war to free the slaves, European public opinion would overwhelmingly back the North. The Emancipation Proclamation, therefore, was practically dropped in his lap by circumstances. On January 1, 1863 he signed the final Proclamation. It freed the slaves in the South, but left 1 million more in bondage in the North. With this signing, however, Northern commanders accepted blacks into military service. By the end of the war more than 186,000 black soldiers had joined the Union army; 93,000 from the Confederate states, 40,000 from the border slave states, and 53,000 from the Free states.
Free at Last?
Well, not quite. In spite of the Emancipation Proclamation, Blacks were discriminated against even as they fought for their freedom. They were given substandard supplies and rations, one-half the pay of whites, and few were commissioned. Still, they fought with valor and distinction. When the war ended, a new chapter in American history opened as the 13th Amendment was implemented. It abolished slavery in the United States. Four million African Americans were free. Thousands of former slaves traveled throughout the south, visiting or searching for loved ones from whom they had become separated.
In spite of the 13th Amendment, for the next 100 years Blacks were systematically denied full citizenship by our actions and by our laws. Lynchings were commonplace. Indeed, the practice of lynching had become part of American history even before America was a nation. Early victims included eccentrics guilty of being different, those who were accused or suspected of violating prevalent societal mores, and Native Americans of all ages and various tribal groups. In the South, lynching was a terrorist tactic used to control and threaten African-Americans:
- In 1916 a black man who was hanged over a bonfire and mutilated on the City Hall lawn in Waco, Texas after his conviction in the murder of a white woman.
- On Feb. 9, 1920, a lynch mob of white men stormed a barricade, knocking aside an Army machine gunner. They wanted to lynch a black man named Will Lockett.
- On the morning of May 5, 1927, people around the country awoke to read yet another gruesome lynching story out of the South. "Mob Burns Man's Body in Little Rock Street," declared a front-page headline in the Washington Post.
- Ed Johnson, a young black Chattanooga laborer, was brutally beaten to death when a lynch mob invaded the county jail at 8 o'clock that March evening and began battering the locked interior doors with sledgehammers.
- Of the 492 lynchings that occurred in Texas between 1882 and 1930, the incident that perhaps received the greatest notoriety, both statewide and nationally, was the mutilation and burning of an illiterate seventeen-year-old black farmhand named Jesse Washington by a white mob in Waco, Texas, on May 15, 1916.
Segregation in the form of “separate but equal” was also a legal guiding principle until Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. When the Supreme Court struck down the Kansas law, the Civil Rights Movement began. Today, 52 years after Brown v. Board of Education, a long and arduous struggle has brought about many changes, but equality for Blacks still lies many years into the future.
Japanese-Americans and World War II
The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 awakened America. Along with a new patriotic fervor, old racial prejudices were also revived. This time they were directed against Japanese-Americans.
On February 19, 1942, soon after the beginning of World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This evacuation order started the round-up of 120,000 Americans of Japanese heritage to one of 10 internment camps—officially called "relocation centers"—in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas
Roosevelt's executive order was fueled by anti-Japanese sentiment among farmers who competed against Japanese labor, from politicians who sided with anti-Japanese constituencies, and from the general public, whose frenzy was heightened by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. More than two-thirds of the Japanese who were interned in the spring of 1942 were citizens of the United States.
Although they were called relocation centers, they operated more like concentration camps. The camps were overcrowded and provided poor living conditions. According to a 1943 report published by the War Relocation Authority, Japanese Americans were housed in "tarpaper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind." Coal was hard to come by, and internees slept under as many blankets as they were allotted. Food was rationed out at an expense of 48 cents per internee, and served by fellow internees in a mess hall of 250-300 people.
When the relocation camps were dismantled, 5,766 Japanese-Americans renounced their American citizenship over their mistreatments. In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that made some reparations for this miscarriage of justice.
Partial Atonement. In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed legislation which awarded formal payments of $20,000 each to the surviving Japanese-American internees—60,000 in all. While Japanese-Americans comprised the overwhelming majority of those in the camps, thousands of Americans of German, Italian, and other European descent were also forced to relocate there. Many more were classified as "enemy aliens" and subject to increased restrictions. As of 2006, the U.S. Government had made no formal apology or reparations to those affected.
Mexican immigrants, along with their Mexican American descendants, occupy a unique place in the story of U.S. immigration. They are known by many different names, came from different origins, and took widely different paths to becoming part of the United States.
Millions of people in the United States today identify themselves as Mexican immigrants or Mexican Americans. They are among both the oldest and newest inhabitants of the nation. A large number of Mexicans were already living in the Southern and Western regions of the North American continent centuries before the United States existed. Many more Mexicans came to this country during the 19th and 20th centuries, and Mexican immigrants continue to arrive today.
In 1846, a growing sentiment spurred by Manifest Destiny emerged to simply take Texas from Mexico. War quickly followed between the U.S. and Mexico over the U.S. annexation of Texas. Mexico was defeated, and in 1848 the two nations signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty gave the U.S. an enormous amount of land, including what would later become the states of California and Texas, as well as parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, in exchange for a token payment of $15 million.
One more important piece of land changed hands in 1854, when the U.S. bought what is now southern Arizona and New Mexico from the Mexican government for $10 million. This land deal, known as the Gadsden Purchase, brought the U.S. a much-coveted railroad route, and helped open the West to further expansion. Thus, with two strokes of a pen, the U.S. expanded its size by one-third.
Today, it estimated that 11 million Mexicans reside in the U.S. illegally. Many, however, are direct descendants of Native Americans as well as the (arguably) rightful owners of the very land taken from Mexico in the 1840s. This fact, alone, makes Mexican immigration a special issue that deserves special attention. It is a “stand alone” issue. It is an issue deeply immersed in history, and in blood, in family values, in honor, in character, and in wisdom. It goes to our very soul as a nation. It asks us: Who are we? What do we stand for? Are Mexicans “aliens” or our neighbors? Why is there such hostility toward Mexicans? What is so different about them as compared to our Canadian neighbors to the north? It is not simply an issue of respecting US laws passed in recent years, or one of erecting fences and enforcing our borders. It is a matter of honoring our past, of honoring facts, and of honoring our ideals.
The American Immigration Law Foundation recently completed a review of the impact of Mexican workers on the nation's economy, and concluded the following:
· Mexican Workers Are Integral to U.S. Economic Growth. The portion of Mexican workers in the U.S. workforce has doubled during the past decade, as they have become more integral to the nation's economic growth.
· Mexican Workers Are Filling Needed Jobs in New Geographic Areas. Mexican workers are becoming increasingly important in locations throughout the nation not previously known for large immigrant populations
· New Jobs Will Not Require Advanced Education. Nearly 43 percent of all job openings by 2010 will require only a minimal education, at a time when native-born Americans are obtaining college degrees in record numbers and are unlikely to accept positions requiring minimal education.
They concluded that “the nation must act to reform immigration laws so that they give the immigration system the integrity to keep Americans safe, while at the same time giving businesses the essential workers they need to succeed. U.S. immigration law must provide ways for Mexican workers to enter and remain in the U.S., in both temporary and permanent status, with protections to assure that they have the dignity and respect they deserve, given the important contributions they make to America.”
The Moral Chasm
Today, the country is deeply divided over our immigration policy. Those who insist on building fences, beefing up our border patrols, and halting the flow of Mexicans stand on the “righteous” corner of the moral chasm. From their perspective the view is clear and certain: “This is our country, we are a country of laws, and they are breaking our laws. Let’s round them up, and kick them out.” They reflect the early settler mentality, the Manifest Destiny point of view: “This land was made for you and me—as long as you are white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant. We will accommodate Catholics, Jews—even minorities—as long as they are willing get into line, comply with our laws, and work for minimum wages. Their mantra to all others is “get out” and “no amnesty!”
On the practical corner of the chasm stand the pragmatists. “How can we kick them out?” they ask. “They do all our dirty work. They harvest our crops, mow our lawns, clean our hotels, fix our meals, and take care of our children. Who would do all these things if they left?” They are the practical WASPs who see today’s Mexicans and Latino population as modern day slaves.
On the accommodative corner stand those with a twinge of conscience: “We are a country of immigrants,” they say with compassion. “My grandparents came from Italy, and were denounced as ‘wops.’ ” Other names from other ancestries are heard from this group: “micks” and “spics”; “krauts” and “limies”;“frogs” and “polacks”;”japs” and “chinks”; ”hunkies” and “heinies”;”greasers” and “guineas.” All such names are transitional slurs of the original name-calling given to Native Americans, namely, “savages.” This group is willing to forgive and move on.
On the fourth corner of the chasm stands the final group. Their vantage point is that of the realist. They recall the past and Santayana's the poignant rejoinder: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." They see virtue in the American Ideal, e pluribus unum, as well as the trail of tears that still muddies our efforts to achieve it. They also recognize that good laws flow from our ideals; not the other way around. This group is willing to settle for the best answer that can be achieved at the moment while always trying to improve on it.
A Country of Laws
We hear it again and again: “We are a country of laws.” Laws, however, sometimes protect us, while at other times they condemn us. Suffice to say, laws do not flow from heaven, nor even from our hearts. Too often, they reflect only the distorted views of the majority. At other times, in the immortal words of Charles Dickens, ”the law is a ass.” Here are two cases in point:
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857). This was the case in which a slave in a slave state (Dred Scott - Missouri), who was brought to a free state (llinois), sued for his freedom and lost. The decision was 7-2. It’s a case study of how reliance on a legal methodology (“strict constructionism”) resulted in the bloodiest war in our history.
The Issue. The 5th Amendment of the Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Dred Scott was the property of his master. He sued, as a person, for his liberty. Which interest was more important - the master’s property interest in his slave, or Dred Scott’s liberty interest in himself? That was the key question facing the Supreme Court.
Without commenting on the legal nuances of this case, two underlying motivations seem to have influenced this decision: 1) The Strict Constructionist Point of View. Seven justices, tried and true , believed that a law that insults our intelligence and our sensibilities and contradicts our ideals is nevertheless supreme and must be honored; and, 2) The “Some Laws are Immoral” Point of View. Two justices, equally tried and true , believed that a law that insults our intelligence and our sensibilities and contradicts our ideals is unworthy of being honored, that individual liberty is far more compelling than property rights. The seven assenting justices belong on the first corner of the Moral Chasm, while the two dissenting justices belong on the fourth corner.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The court upheld an 1890 Louisiana statute mandating racially segregated but equal railroad carriages, ruling that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution dealt with political and not social equality:
"The object of the [Fourteenth] Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either." --Justice Henry Billings Brown, for the majority.
Concluding: Finding Our Moral Courage
It would be easy to say we are a nation of hypocrites. Indeed, to assert moral superiority under the guise of a Manifest Destiny, and then to rape, plunder, and steal the land under the same banner is hypocrisy at its worst. Adolf Hitler made a similar claim in 1930s Germany, but he called his expansion needs “Lebensraum,” and cloaked it with similar Providential propaganda before selling it to the German people. No, in fairness, we have made much social and racial progress since the days of the early settlers.
It is also unfair for us to assume full responsibility for the sins of our fathers. But we cannot ignore the past, nor can we now assert a moral superiority over Native Americans, Blacks, Japanese-Americans, or Mexicans on the grounds that “we took this land fair and square under our laws, the majority makes the laws, and we will do whatever 50 percent plus 1 of us damn well pleases.” We also cannot claim to have God on our side while using evil tactics.
We must study our own past, and then we must face reality and call upon our highest ideals to guide us. We cannot rely on an imaginary and pitiful concept like Manifest Destiny. We need to decide who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. We must acknowledge that we are not superior to any other people; that Manifest Destiny is but a slogan, it is not a fact. We would also do well to remember the words of Winston Churchill when he said: “moral courage is the first of all human qualities because it is the one quality which guarantees all the others.”
Life is about choices—and some of them are moral choices. We can make good ones, or bad ones. Our moral compass points to the one that requires courage. With the right moral choices we can bridge the gap that separates our ideals from our actions. Once done, we can move closer to our ideal of “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
 George Santayana, 1863-1952. American philosopher, essayist, and poet.
 Teddy Blue Abbott in We Pointed them North.
 Mintz, S. (2003). Slavery in Colonial America Digital History. Retrieved (10-25-2006) from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/black_voices/voices_display.cfm?id=14
 Attributed to the journalist, John L. O’Sullivan, from an essay entitled “Annexation,” in 1845.
 From Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.
 In Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: Lebensraum (i.e., living space) was one of the major political ideologies of Nazi Germany. It meant that Germany was entitled to simply take land from others. It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, or enslave the Russian and other Slavic populations, who they considered to be inferior, and to repopulate the land with Germanic peoples. The entire urban population was to be exterminated by starvation, thus creating an agricultural surplus to feed Germany and allowing their replacement by a German upper class. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum