March 12, 2012
Dr. Kimberly Stanley
In the United States of America, we live in a sea of opportunity. Many people come from other countries to live in America to explore those opportunities, but the laws governing immigration have failed to change with the ever-increasing immigrant population. We watch as Border States deal with the rising costs to support immigrants and wonder whether this was what the founding fathers had in mind when the first Immigration Laws were passed. We wonder about the effects on America’s economy as our immigrant population work in this country then send these U.S. dollars to their home country to support their families. We observe an ever-changing landscape continually affected by the legal and illegal immigrants who land in our great country. We contemplate whether America is the land of opportunity and the land of the free, or simply a place for immigrants to land and live for free. As citizens, it is not only our right, but also our duty, to question our leaders and our laws particularly when those laws no longer appear to fit America’s vision. Immigration laws have remained stagnant for far too long and, although immigrants were the founding fathers of our nation, it is time to examine America’s position before the social and economic costs become insurmountable. America’s founding fathers believed that immigration was necessary to increase the population of our country, but also believed that they must prove a loyalty only to America to become citizens. Beginning with George Washington, in the late eighteenth century, a statement was made that immigrants should be integrated into American life so that Fonte (n.d.) "by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people. "This then became a new basis for immigration. In this case, the term “assimilates” means to conform to a way of life. In a 1790 speech to Congress about immigration, James Madison argued that America should welcome those immigrants who could be incorporated into our society, but exclude those immigrants that could not readily assimilate. Thomas Jefferson was convinced that immigrants were not prepared for the new society America was building and thought the country should wait another 27 year before opening its shores. In fact, when addressing immigration in Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson wrote: Fonte (n.d.) They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.
In other words, by allowing a mass immigration into such a new society, America could be allowing the immigrant population to distort the principles established by our new laws and policies. To some degree, Alexander Hamilton echoed the thoughts of Thomas Jefferson, but his emphasis was on the threat to national safety. His concern was in granting citizenship to every immigrant upon arrival in the country. He believed that there should be some proof of allegiance to America before any rights were given to new immigrants. However, both Jefferson and Hamilton shared the same beliefs that immigrants should conform to the ways of America and leave their old government attachments behind. After much debate, it appeared that Jefferson and Hamilton could claim a small victory. The Naturalization Law of 1795 was passed, which required that before becoming...
References: Kerwin, D. (2011). Fixing Immigration. (cover story). America, 205(18), 12.
Fonte, J. (n.d.). To "Possess the National Consciousness of an American". Retrieved from http://www.cis.org
Frey, W. H., Berube, A., Singer, A., & Wilson, J. (2011, December). Five things the census revealed about America in 2011. State of Metropolitan America, 48, 3-4. Retrieved from http://www.brookings.edu
Shackleton, R., Palriwala, A., & Gordon, A. (2005, May). Remittances: International Payments by Immigrants. The Congress of the United Stated congressional budget office. Retrieved from http://www.hsdl.org
Bad for Business: How Anti-Immigrant Laws Can Hurt the Kansas Economy. (2011). Retrieved from http://immigrationpolicy.org
American Immigration Council. (2012). Immigration Reform and Growth. Retrieved from http://immigrationpolicy.org
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