The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom to many, is engraved with the famous poem, “New Colossus”, by Emma Lazarus. It reads, “… give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Our country embraces diversity, yet one of the most controversial and debated topics in the United States is immigration. The founders of the United States were immigrants themselves, heroes that believed in equality and acceptance for all people. Immigration has and will always be a vital part of our nation’s diversity, economic stability, and rich culture. Although, in a post 9-11 world, should security trump diversity? Should we have to choose between being safe and being amiable? Currently we have one of the most relaxed systems of legal immigration in the world, letting in more immigrants than most other countries (Bowman). Much of our expansive border is unguarded, leaving us vulnerable to attack. Its opponents present illegal immigration as a grave danger to the American way of life, while its supporters tout it as an opportunity for cultural diversity. The first modern immigration law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, was passed in 1986. IRCA made it illegal to knowingly hire, or recruit, undocumented immigrants (immigrants who do not possess lawful work authorization)(Pawlick). It also required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status, and granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided here for a long period (Pawlick).
Year after year millions of illegal immigrants penetrate U.S. borders and settle in the larger cities seeking opportunities of employment. Many do not pay taxes on their low wages, contributing little to the benefits they enjoy, such as Welfare, schools, and hospitals (Bowman). Throughout 19th century,
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Pawlick, Peter. “Point: Amnesty is a Practical and Just Solution.” Points of View :
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“Update: U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement.” 3 March 2007. Issues and Controversies . Facts On File News Services. CHS LMC. 11 March 2008 .