11 million persons
The term The American Experiment is believed to have emerged from president Thomas Jefferson’s letter to David Hartley on July 2nd, 1787 “I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.” In America, success is referred to as the American Dream, but it is often forgotten that immigrants were and continue to be the primary Dreamers. President John F. Kennedy describes on his book A Nation of Immigrants, the contributions of immigrants since the funding of the first thirteen colonies, and provokes the reader’s intellect to assert that a nation built by immigrants needs immigrants to prevail.
In her book A Team of Rivals, Doris Goodwin quotes Salmon P. Chase, an eventual member of president Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet in the 1850’s, testifying on a trail against the Fugitive State Law “Under the constitution… all the inhabitants of the United States are, without exception, persons, -persons, it may be, not free, persons, held to service… but still, persons,” (113). Some authors explain that Mr. Chase was making reference to The Bill of Rights where the word “person” is used numerous times but the word “citizen” is not mentioned once. This states, that a person living in the US should be accounted as a right-bearer regardless of citizenship status. This is the tumult of the present debate.
40 million (13% of the population) of foreign-born nationals are living in the US according to the US Census Bureau study published on May 2010 (Table 1). While the US Department of Homeland Security ( DHS) published a report stating “In summary, an estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2011 compared to a revised 2010 estimate of 11.6 million.” This simple data demonstrates the challenges of the US immigration system, shedding a dim light to its problematic procedures and arising questions like, why are there 11.5 million people living in the US without documents of residency? How did they get here? Who is responsible for this?
11.5 million people roughly equals to 274 football fields. Taking this huge visualization of persons living among American citizens is evidence of a problem. Making the most important question in the immigration debate today, how is this problem solved? David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law asserts “Illegal immigration has long been a subject of controversy in the United States… illegal immigration became a hot topic in the 1980s, provoking action in the Congress. The legislation that resulted, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, promised to stem the tide of illegal immigration while simultaneously providing a path toward citizenship for those already in the U.S… It is interesting indeed to look back at the passage of the 1986 bill and recall that the path to citizenship for long-settled immigrants was called an amnesty, even by President Reagan himself” (1). The word amnesty means “a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.” according to the website dictionary.com. But upon recent years, the term has developed the new meaning among American society, of allowing all undocumented immigrants presently living in the US to stay. This meaning is also used often to describe an immigration reform, the effort to solve the problem,
According to Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, immigration reform “It's not amnesty, it's earned.” Meaning that a path to citizenship for 11.5 million persons living now in the US is not a gift nor reward for breaking the law. This short but assertive comment approaches to the meaning of immigration reform, declaring that there would be a path to citizenship for undocumented persons but that in order to obtain it, potential beneficiaries would either have to go through a long and arduous process...