A serious topic that effects all Americans today is the growing controversy surrounding immigration, in our own country and how we react to it in other countries. Thrown further into the spotlight by the 2016 Presidential race, immigration is discussed in many circles and almost everyone has an opinion or personal story to add to the mix.
Current U.S. policy regarding immigration
The U.S. currently has open borders. That is to say that individuals from other countries can gain at least temporary access to the U.S. if they can pass typical security measures at any border crossing. To stay in the U.S., one has to either become employed, a student or marry an American citizen and obtain an alien visa. Many Americans think this is too easy, as many immigrants never leave and our system becomes further taxed by our heaving population. If an immigrant establishes legal status in our country, they are then able to receive social services and other benefits, which some believe should be reserved for U.S. citizens.
Ellis Island and its role in U.S. immigration
Off the coast of Manhattan sits the Statue of Liberty, taking up most of the area of Ellis Island. Now a popular tourist destination, when our country was new and full of opportunity and space and happy to welcome new citizens, this was the port where foreign individuals landed after leaving their homes forever on their way to America. They poured off the ships and stood in line, giving their names and other information before being set free on the streets of New York, where they would make their way and build their new lives. Many Americans whose families have been here for generations can still tell the story of some ancestor who stepped off the boat onto Ellis Island. The logs and records from those days can still be viewed there.
Global conditions that created a flow of immigration
Over the course of time, there are periodically political and cultural situations that can cause the inhabitants of any country to flee to the safety of another. As our country is known as the safest, strongest, happiest place to seek refuge, our borders are often the destination of anyone seeking a better life for themselves and their family. Our melting pot seems to have overflowed. This type of crisis has recently happened in Syria, as their refugees still seek asylum in other countries and our nation’s leaders and citizens clash about whether the U.S. should allow them to emigrate.
As a country created entirely by individuals from other countries, it is ironic to see our current entanglement in the immigration debate. We are not that country anymore. If it is just an issue of space, is our country full? Are we out of room? On the other hand, do we have the resources to feed, educate, protect and maintain more and more people? These are the kinds of questions at the heart of this topic that can literally change lives every day.