Coming to America…Maybe
Immigration has been a part of the United States ever since its inception. When Christopher Columbus made his way across the Atlantic Ocean he discovered a land that was almost entirely inhabited. The colonists, essentially the first immigrants to what would be the United States, began to come over group after group until they finally decided that there were enough people living in America that they were a strong enough power to be a separate entity. In 1776 the Americans declared their independence from Great Britain and through the revolutionary war, created the United States. Views from varying sources as well as some insight from North Dakota representatives will be used in order to examine current immigration laws, explain how and why changes should be made, and determine who will be affected by the changes.
Early in its history, the United States was often called a melting pot because it was a new nation with no distinctive culture at the time it was established. As immigrants came to the United States, oftentimes they quickly lost their original culture and integrated into the new nation rapidly. Although the United States has been shaped by successive waves of immigrants, Americans have often viewed immigration as a problem. Established Americans often look down on new immigrants. The cultural habits of immigrants are frequently targets of criticism, especially when the new arrivals come from a different country than those in the established community. This type of behavior towards immigrants can be found throughout the nation.
When interviewing my district representatives what they were currently doing with immigration laws I received a very common answer from all three of them. They all said that currently they weren’t dealing with any immigration laws because they are usually determined at a national level. Representative Ole Aarsvold said in an e-mail response, “Immigration is primarily a federal concern but we have had a couple of bills dealing with this issue, very generally, in this legislative session in ND. I will do some research for you.” This led me to open my eyes to the national scope of immigration laws.
The United States had no type of immigration laws during its colonial years. Leonard Dinnerstein is a Professor of American History and Director of Judaic Studies at University of Arizona. His Encarta entry stated, “By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), the colonial population had reached approximately 2.5 million people” (par. 21). As more and more people continued to enter the United States people began to think that they needed to control the number that would be allowed into the country. It wasn’t until 1882 that the first immigration law was passed in the United States. As stated on MSNBC’s Pencil News website it banned people from entering the country that were “convicts, insane or severely retarded people, and people likely to need special care from entering the country”...