Immigration: Should America close its Golden Doors?
America has, is, and will always be a nation of immigrants: the great melting pot. In the years that have passed since Emma Lazarus’ poem was inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, “the golden door” has seen times when it was open wide and times when it was closed shut to almost all immigrants; what really is an American anyway? An American is someone who loves their country and the people in it, and believes in bettering their own lives as well as the lives of those around them. Does it really matter that these individuals may be of German or Chinese descent? Their ethnic background does not have anything to do with their being American. To say that the majority of people in the United States have some sort of tie with an ethnic background from a different country would be a safe assumption. This is what makes our American Culture unique. Immigrants bring to our country strong family structures and strong morals. Foreigners also help our economy prosper. If this great country was forged and built by immigrants passing through “the golden door,” then how can this same country turn away new immigrants? Immigrants are what help make America what it is today by being a multicultural society standing united. A lack of jobs is a major concern for most Americans. Will there be enough jobs for everyone? Can our economy support its own citizens, immigrants, and illegal aliens? The working poor are concerned that illegal immigrants may be holding down wages and taking the few unskilled jobs that are available in some areas (Kirschten 16). These are legitimate fears that call into question the government’s ability to regulate immigration. Tax paying citizens are also concerned that the tax dollars they pay each year are being used to help educate illegal immigrants and not those who are rightfully living in this country (Amselle 60). When there is a large population of immigrants in an area, citizens tend to view them in a hostile manner because of the perceived notion that illegal immigrants are using resources meant for legal residents (Bean 204). In reality illegal immigrants have never been eligible for welfare and other public services (Castro 180). Due to a decline in the fertility rate in the United States some leading demographers predict that without substantial immigration America will have a shrinking population (Briggs 127). A shrinking population would mean a higher cost of living and a slow decline in the economy. This alone does not diffuse the alarm of overpopulation but it does give a different view of the situation. The United States immigration policy does not allow people to immigrate if they are expected to be dependant on public services. Yet in 1993 approximately 12% of the 5.9 million recipients of Supplemental Security Income benefits were immigrants, even though they only account for about 5% of the population (Mont 15). Statistics such as these add to the growing anti-immigrant sentiment among American citizens. This anti-immigrant attitude was clearly reflected in 1994 with the passing of California’s Proposition 187. Actions such as Proposition 187 can create a very hostile and possibly dangerous atmosphere for all immigrants. What it really boils down to is a belief among Americans that immigrants simply cost too much. Immigration means increased job competition, more money spent on welfare, and increased competition for educational funding. Although Proposition 187 was aimed at curbing the health care cost of illegal immigrants, most Americans simply see it as an immigrant issue and pay little attention to details concerning the status of those immigrants actually receiving benefits. Many believe that immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, hold down wages in low paying jobs mostly in areas such as California’s Central Valley where most of the workers are immigrant and up to 40% are believed to be illegal (Kirschten 16)....
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