Since the 19th Century, America has become known as the nation of immigrants. During that time the United States experienced the biggest wave of immigration of any place or time in the history of the world. It was also during that same time that America felt the greatest growth in production and standard of living than any other point in history (Divine, 1957). For many, the link between these two exceptional points in history was no coincidence.
Certainly one of the most controversial topics discussed today is of immigration. There are those who recognize that their ancestors were once immigrants themselves, and feel that America should hold an “open door” position to immigration. The opposing thought is one created out of fear. There are many advocates to a “zero immigration” policy, who feel that America has reached a point where the economy cannot sustain further stress from incoming refugees. For these two opposing thoughts, the issue is clear. For the rest of the Native Americans, the waters of position are grey.
There is a great moral debate that coincides with discussions of immigration. The poem written and engraved on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty verbalizes everything that America has stood for in regards to immigration. It reads,
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoning lightening, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world -wide welcome; her mild eyes command. The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep your ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“(Lazarus, 1883)
America’s harbors have always seen a steady flow of those who long for a life of freedom and prosperity. Because of this we are faced with a dilemma of deciding whether this nation is not only willing to accept new immigrants, but whether it can afford those new immigrants. The moral question yet to be answered is should immigration be decided based on issues of humanity or of economic means?
Unquestionably, the most resented and controversial aspect of America’s immigration policy has been the growing concern over illegal immigration and its effects on the economy. During the mid 1990’s, public fury over illegal immigration reached new heights especially in the state of California, which borders Mexico. It was during this time when the United States witnessed one of the highest profile immigration bills in United States history emerge. Proposition 187, also known as the “Save Our State” initiative, appeared on the 1994 California ballot (Migration Dialogue 1994). Proposition 187 sought to restrict illegal immigrants from receiving public education, non-emergency...