Some Aspects Regarding US Immigration

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The social historian, Oscar Handlin, in one of the most well-known of all works on American immigration, The Uprooted, declared: "Once I thought to write a history of immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history" (Handlin 1951:3). So, according to Handlin, not only did the immigrants shaped American history, but they also contributed at its creation. As Lawrence Auster emphasized in his article Are We Really a Nation of Immigrants?; the phrase "we are a nation of immigrants built upon the rule of law" is a very used expression among the political leadership of the United States. However, if this is the case and Americans admit to be a nation of immigrants, why do some of them feel threatened by the constant arrival of more and more immigrants? 
America has been a heterogeneous society even from its early beginnings so it shouldn't be a surprise the fact that the immigrants helped constructing the United States' history and economy. In order to illustrate a clearer picture, it is important to notice some results and findings which refer to the number of immigrants in the United States. Since the 1970's and early 1980's, immigration into the U.S. has increased by tens of millions of people. According to Andrew Batchelor, "Four and a half (4.5) million immigrants were admitted in the 1970s. Six (6) million immigrants were admitted in the 1980s. Over eight (8.6) million immigrants came in the 1990s, surpassing the previous decade record of 8 million (1901-1910)." (summary updated by Andrew Batchelor of the Population Resource Center in December 2004). Let us not imagine that between the years 1990-2009 the immigration wave into the United States decreased: "Immigrants historically have provided one of America's greatest competitive advantages. Between 1990 and 2007 the proportion of immigrants in the US labor force increased from 9.3% to 15.7%." (Rick Nelson, March 2, 2009). It is clear now, that America has never had a homogeneous society, nor were its territories peopled by persons with the same historical background, culture or language.
Furthermore, after seeing these statistics, the most natural question is, of course, referring to the reasons that forced immigrants to leave their countries and their families, and come to work in the United States. In other words, what are the factors which attracted immigration into the United States? Jacob Riis believes that "The poorest immigrant comes here with the purpose and ambition to better himself and, given half a chance, might be reasonably expected to make the most of it. To the false plea that he prefers the squalid houses in which his kind are housed there could be no better answer. The truth is, his half chance has too long been wanting, and for the bad result he has been unjustly blamed." (Jacobs Riis, How the other Half Lives, chapter The Mixed Crowd, p.2) For some immigrants the United States is their ticket to a better paid job and a better life, so they have to make the best of this chance because there might not be another one. 
However, William Ripley in his article Races in the United States argues that, in America "the people have dropped from the sky", which means that the number and the heterogeneity of the society is so powerful, that one might think it is almost impossible to happen. They are in the land, but not yet an integral part of it. So, the population product is artificial and exotic. 
Moreover he emphasizes the fact that American immigration is a unique phenomenon in the history of the world saying that "American immigration is stupendous. We have become so accustomed to it in the United States that we often lost sight of its numerical magnitude. About 25,000,000 people have come to the United States from all over Europe since 1820. This is about equal to the entire population of the United Kingdom only fifty years ago, at the time of our Civil War. It is, again, more than the population of Italy in the time of Garibaldi. Otherwise stated, this army of people would populate, as it stands today, all that most densely settled section of the United States north of Maryland and east of the Great Lakes,--all New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in fact." (Ripley, December 1998, p.745). 
In other words, immigration in the United States increased massively after 1820 and is still increasing nowadays (both legally and illegally). But the immigrants came to America basically because the country allowed them to be there (legal immigration); America needed them just as much as they needed America. 
However, nowadays seems like America is not willing to receive them so open hearted, or at least not all of them. Patrick Buchanan is one of the Americans who fear a "third world invasion and conquest of America". In his book, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, Buchanan illustrates his point of view regarding immigration (both legal and illegal) in the United States: "This is not immigration as America knew it, when men and women made a conscious choice to turn their backs on their native lands and cross the ocean to become Americans.


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