United States: A Nation of Immigrants

Immigration has been, is, and it’s always going to be a subject that people have many different opinions on. Regardless of our different political stands, it is a fact that immigration has been a controversial topic that not many people are willing to talk about.

The U.S. is a nation of immigrants, it has experienced many waves of immigration throughout its history. In fact, all Americans are descendants from immigrants, with the only exception of Native Americans.

Immigration in the U.S. started with the arrival and settlement of various European ethnic groups around 1600, their reasons were mostly related to religious freedom and economic prosperity. However, not everyone came willingly to America. Thousands of African slaves were brought over against their will, stripping them away from their freedom. Over time, immigration became a major issue, which led to very restrictive laws, some of them very specific about the race of immigrants, such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned the immigration of Chinese workers. After 1965, the Immigration and Naturalization Act came to an end, which ended the system of quotas based on people’s nationality. After this, immigration stats and demographics  skyrocketed. According to History, “between 1965 and 2000, the highest number of immigrants (4.3 million) to the U.S. came from Mexico, in addition to some 1.4 million from the Philippines. Korea, the Dominican Republic, India, Cuba, and Vietnam were also leading sources of immigrants, each sending between 700,000 and 800,000 over this period.”

Later on, due to mass immigration and terrorism, people would feel threatened by immigrants. Take the caravan of central American immigrants seeking asylum as an example. Comments on articles related to the caravan on the Washington Post differ a lot. Comments vary from “People fleeing violence are not migrants, they are refugees. America needs a humane response to a refugee problem”, to “these illegal immigrants do not respect our laws and our border.”

Despite the divided opinions Americans have on immigration, it is still an issue that Congress continues to debate.