Most Americans place their pride in being apart of a country where a man can start at the bottom and work his way to the top. We also stress the fact that we are “all created equal” with “certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” (Jefferson 45) During the early 1900s white Americans picked and chose who they saw fit to live in America and become an American. “Those that separate the desirable from the undesirable citizen or neighbor are individual rather than race.” (Abbott 307) In the 1900s the desired immigrant was one who spoke English and customs who were similar to ours. Whereas an undesirable was one whose “customs he (Americans) understood, whose language is quite unrelated to English, the American finds “strange” and even “suspicious”.” (Abbott 307) The biggest debate today would be what could the individual/race can contribute to the American economy.
“The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions.” (Crevecoeur 26) With Crevecoeur’s definition anyone with half of a brain could be an American. This statement is basically contradicted by everything that is American. American society only wants people that can contribute to our economy. For decades people in America were sure of two things concerning immigrants. They came for the opportunity to build a better life for their families and they would not seek nor would they accept a handout. The drive and attitude of immigrants who came to America during the nineteen twenties through the nineteen sixties built strong work ethics that created our now famous American melting pot. But for the past thirty years a runaway welfare state has poisoned our good intentions. Well meaning but misguided entitlement programs gave billions of dollars in free handouts to a deluge of new immigrants as the floodgates opened and annual immigration levels more than tripled.
“An estimated 150,000 undocumented Mexican immigrants enter the United States each year. Their labor–in Florida orange groves, Georgia onion fields, Las Vegas hotels and Oregon nurseries-has filled growth in many parts of the American economy.” (Thompson A8) Even with all of their contributions they still have to sneak into America through isolated desert areas where they die by the hundreds each year from exposure to heat or cold. Two proposals have been written regarding Mexican migrant workers. Both would increase the number of guest workers; However one would allow immigrants with a certain number of years of agricultural service to apply for legal residency, while the other one will not allow the migrant workers to apply for residency nor does it call for any amnesty. But if you are a Canadian citizen coming into America you could past the borders with no problems. Why is that you ask? Mostly because Canadians do not want to come to America and live they are contempt with their own Country.
Immigrants today are viewed as a bad thing simply because people are in fear of losing their jobs because immigrants will work for basically nothing without benefits and a union. Everyone knows that if they are allowed to come into the States and get jobs that they would be in danger of losing theirs. Many immigrants are cited as being “below the mental, moral, and
physical average of both our country and their own.” (Hall 303) One man states that “more care was taken in the selection of the few cattle which were imported for breeding purposes in this same period than anyone thought of taking in the case of these millions of men and women and children.” (Ward 543) Ward continues to discuss the many problems with immigrations in the 1900s he says that there are “no officials, expert in diagnosing mental and physical defects, were sent aboard to pick out the fittest and most desirable aliens for introduction into this country, or even placed on board ship to pick them out in transit.”(Ward 543) Which makes you wonder what was actually more important to people back in the day, someone that would work for almost nothing or someone that was healthy. According to Ward the answer would be cheap labor. Things have not changed very much. Now there are people (Americans) who will actually go across borders and bring back Mexican immigrants/migrants to work on their farms, factories, etc. Just for the sake of “cheap labor.”
Once many immigrants come to America they quickly assimilate our culture and customs. Not so much because they want to be like us, but because they want to be accepted by the majority which in the United States would be Anglo Saxons. “There is no doubt that we are absorbing the immigrant into our national life, but we are doing it with a reckless disregard of the suffering and the loss of idealism which our laissez-faire policy inevitably entails.” (Abbott 308) Many do things like change their names, dress style and most try to rid themselves of their accents. Doing these will in one way or the other make American people more comfortable with them, causing them to accept them not for who they really are but for who we want them to be. “This policy is as wrong in principle as it will always be unsuccessful in practice.” (Abbott 309) By allowing this to happen not only are we allowing people to lose their individuality but we are also destroy their culture and adapt to ours. Many of the customs that the immigrants could bring would form a valuable gift to our national life.
Since the first European settlers set foot in North America, immigration has suffused the American experience. Indeed, many of the values that unite Americans as a nation are tied to immigration. Immigration has not only framed our vision of the U.S. role in the world, but has seeped into our view of human nature. The idealism surrounding immigration explains in large part the deep feelings it engenders in the public policy arena. In recent years, these sentiments have jostled with concerns about the economy, ethnic relations, social services, the environment, and other issues to recast the discourse on U.S. immigration policy. From 1980 to 1990, immigration law underwent a period of change comparable in importance to the reforms of 1965 and the early 1920s. At the same time, the debate over immigration has expanded to incorporate a broad range of foreign policy issues. The discussion now features arguments on U.S. relations with Latin America, human rights, international trade, and the worldwide refugee crisis.
So what’s an American? The answer is your own to come to a conclusion on. But this is a fact an American cannot come from a piece a paper but better yet from what the individual contributes to the American Society as a whole. Whether its their culture, religion, or adding to our workforce. As far as the immigration policy goes the American government seems to be doing an okay job to me. But if they really want to be fair they should look at each case on an individual level. Not all Mexican migrants want food stamps or welfare, most just want a chance for a better life. For the American Government to stereotype a whole race because of a few people is completely wrong. I’m not saying let everyone in but on the same hand don’t turn everyone away. Because to be completely honest none of us are from here, every race that is in America now that is considered American, has contributed to the building of America; Therefore other races can only but add on to the good things that are happening in America.
Works Cited
Abbot, Grace. “The Immigrants Place in a Social Program.” Primis. Michigan: McGraw-Hill, 1997. 304-309
Crevecoeur, Hector St. Jean De. “What is an American?” Primis. Michigan: McGraw-Hill, 1992. 23-40
Hall, Prescott F. “The Future of American Ideals” Primis. Michigan: McGraw-Hill. 300-303
Thompson, Ginger. “U.S. and Mexico to Open Talks on Freer Migration for Workers.” Handout from newspaper. **no date or name on handout***
Ward, Robert De Courcey. “Race Betterment and Our Immigration Law.” Proceedings of the First National Conference on Race Betterment, January 8,9,10,11,12,Battle Creek, Michigan. Battle Creek: Gage, 1914. 543-544, 545 CD-ROM. American Identity Explorer Immigration and Migration. McGraw-Hill, 2000.


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