America as a Nation of Immigrants
America has, is, and will always be a nation of immigrants: the great melting pot. In the years that have passed since Emma Lazarus' poem was inscribed on the Statue of Liberty "the golden door" Americans have seen times when the door was open wide and times when it was close shut to most immigrants (Sure 4). Many people look at the present immigration problems as a purely modern dilemma. The truth is America has always struggled with the issue of immigration, both legal and illegal. Changing times, however, makes it imperative that our government reexamines and adjusts today's immigration laws to today's standards. Those standards, however, are not easily defined. Too often the issue of immigration is used as a political tool or is lost in heated moral debates (Sure 6). In any discussion about immigration there will be those who claim it is good for our nation and those who claim it is ruining the nation.
Americans are now faced with a new dilemma; the nation must decide not whether it is willing to accept new immigrants, but whether it can afford new immigrants (Briggs 240). More often than not, the bottom line in any debate of this sort is money; will more or less immigration mean more or less money for those already in America? All new immigrants, both legal and illegal must be considered in this equation. Congress can attempt to ease the burden of legal immigration by passing restrictive laws and only allowing inside those who they believe will become self-sufficient. Congress must also find a way to slow the flow of illegal immigration by enforcing the laws already in place Mont 16).
America most certainly has immigration problems, but eliminating immigration will not fix them all together. In fact, America will never eliminate immigration, because no matter how tightly the door is closed some illegal immigrants will get through (Marley 879). Since America continues to be seen as a nation of prosperity, opportunity, and freedom there will be those who wish to come to America. Immigrants have always come to America looking for a better life and Americans are always forgetting that their forefathers were once looking for that same life.
Throughout most of America's history immigration was seen as a natural process that benefited the nation (Divine 2). There were no clearly defined policies on immigration until the 1890's. During this time the country started questioning the economic benefits of more immigrants. In May 1921, the first bill in American history dealing with immigration was passed. This bill restricted European immigration and created the quota system (Divine 5). The downward turn in the economy could justify this turn toward restriction. Who could argue for more immigrants when the nation's own citizens could not find work. The slowing economy and the "spirit of intense nationalism" in the United States at this time made immigration a hot topic (Divine 23). ...