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Immigration Today Is Not The Same As 1900

A new database containing arrival records for the 22 million immigrants who entered America through the port of New York from 1892 to 1924 is available at the center and on the Internet. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Newsmakers)
A new database containing arrival records for the 22 million immigrants who entered America through the port of New York from 1892 to 1924 is available at the center and on the Internet. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Newsmakers)

Those who favor unfettered immigration always reflect on the fact that the United States was built by immigrants. No argument here.

How they got here and how they built it needs some clarification.

Vetting Immigrants

When our forefathers landed at Ellis Island there was a process in place to welcome them. They didn’t pull up in boats and dash across the beaches in the dead of night to live in the shadows one step ahead of immigration officials.

Don’t you love that “live in the shadows” term? You really gotta hand it to the left they’re great with phrasing.

Immigrants at Ellis Island were recorded. Given medical exams etc. They had sponsors.

Relatives or friends who were already in the US who would take responsibility for them. In other words help them assimilate to life in the United States.

Why Immigrate Anywhere?

In the 1900s America was the shining light on the hill. Electricity was evolving, it was the birth of the industrial revolution and there was freedom to pursue your dreams that were not available in other lands.

Immigrants didn’t come here to bring the best of their countries with them. They came to be Americans in every sense of the word.

Why do people pull up roots and abandon their homeland?

I grew up in a small southern town in Illinois. I pulled up my roots, left family and friends for a very good reason.

There was no real success opportunity left in my hometown. I immigrated to California, my wife and I did pretty well there, and then moved to Montana to eventually retire.

Why Montana? I was a fan of the old west and the fact Montana wasn’t wall-to-wall people made it very attractive also.

But I sure didn’t want to drag all the culture of Illinois or California with me and try to remake Montana. I wanted Montana to remake me.

Some Final Thoughts

The confusing part of immigration seems to be that we’re looking for one size fits all.

Do we want the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, the homeless tempest-tost as the Statue of Liberty says?

While we are a compassionate country we are also not the world’s charity. Although there are many who think we should be.

Money is no problem as long as it’s not causing you any pain.

I believe people who want to come here to eventually be American citizens should have that opportunity no matter what their social or economic status is.

And I think work visas for those who want to come here for an opportunity like education or job skills then take those skills back home to share with others is a great thing.

But those who are out to scam our system for their own selfish ends need not apply.

Teddy Roosevelt said it best I believe:

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all … The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic … There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.

 

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