Although immigration has been a central component of both American history and culture, it’s been a contentious issue throughout much of our history. Some Americans contend that immigrants have made enormous contributions to our country. On the other hand, others argue that—while this may be true, we need to rethink our immigration policy in light of the War on Terrorism. How did immigration start in the United States, how has it progressed, and where is it now?
Immigration to the American colonies began predominantly with Protestant English settlers coming to the New World. Once the United States was established, the immigration of other nationalities quickly increased: Eastern European immigration increased dramatically, and both Japanese and Chinese settlers began traveling across the Pacific to reach the West Coast. Jewish immigrants seeking safety from persecution began making the journey, and other nationalities followed in suit. Although very few spoke English when they arrived, America quickly became a melting pot of different nationalities—although, this was also fought with resistance. Different pieces of legislation were passed by Congress either limiting, restricting or changing how certain people were able to come into the country. Sometimes, these policies came to affect current US citizens; despite fears being overblown, President Roosevelt enacted Executive Order 9066 during World War II which authorized the relocation of Japanese citizens over concerns of national security.
Today, Americans are primarily concerned with terrorism and illegal immigrants. There have been a number of proposals from both major parties, ranging from extending citizenship to all immigrants, to deporting anyone who entered our country illegally. Immigration has changed dramatically since the founding of our country, so how should our immigration laws be changed?
Proponents to President Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border say it will help stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs coming into our country from Mexico. They say that the types of illegal immigrants that are coming into America are criminals, and that the wall will protect American citizen, and will encourage legal immigration.
Opponents to the border wall say that it will be too expensive to build. They say that the rate of immigrants coming into America is much smaller than President Trump says, and that the rate of illegal immigration is actually declining. And San Diego, which has some of the most secured border, has the highest rate of drug smuggling.
Red Card Solution
The Red Card Solution is a simple way for immigrants and their families to legally come to the U.S. for specific jobs and for a specific period of time. It would require them to go through a background check and to return home at the end of their employment. It would give them no special place in the citizenship line.
While we may need to tweak our immigration system, we should embrace American values and continue to extend citizenship to those seeking the American dream.
Lottery Visa System
Proponents to the lottery visa program say that it is one of the only ways for a large number of immigrants from certain countries in Africa to come to America. They point out that countries that have a large number of immigrants such as Mexico and China are not able to participate in the program. Supporters of the system say that applicants get heavily vetted, and can become assets to the United States.
Opponents to the lottery visa system point to the attacker in the October 2017 New York City terrorist attack, who was a recipient of the lottery visa from Uzbekistan. They say that the lottery visa system does not require immigrants to have any special skills or education and is easily subject to fraud.
Proponents of birthright citizenship believe that the policy of automatic citizenship if you are born on US soil should be upheld. They point to the 14th Amendment, which states that “All persons born…in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Opponents to birthright citizenship say that if someone was born in America to illegal immigrants, they should not be considered citizens. They want to limit the amount of unauthorized immigration that would occur as a result of birthright citizenship – immigrants coming to America illegally to have children that would grow up to be US citizens.
Proponents of President Trump’s travel ban say that it will help reduce the number of immigrants with potential links to terrorist organizations from entering the country. Their goal is to stop terrorist attacks such as the one at San Bernardino, California in December 2015, which killed 14 people and was led by a permanent residence of the United States from Pakistan.
Opponents to the travel ban say that even though people are able to receive a waiver for a visa, only around 2 percent of applicants received a waiver. Students who would ordinarily be a recipient of a waiver are hesitant to apply, meaning that they are choosing to not come here for school. They call it a “Muslim ban”, and object to the president attempting to ban an entire religion from entering the country.