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Immigration in America

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Immigration 1

Immigration in America

Wendi Rahr

History 203

Marisea Stanley

June 13, 2010

Immigration 2

Immigration has been an issue for America since the very beginning. The Statue of Liberty stands at the harbor in New York with the inscription, "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" I would like to discuss what these words actually mean, how these words relate to slavery in America, what changes we as a nation has made to the value of these words and my own personal views on immigration in our nation today. Many in the past have described America as the "melting pot" nation. Is that still the case in America today?

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" is what we see when we stand at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. What exactly do these words mean? Well the early settlers came to America to be free of religious persecution and monarch rule. They came to America to make a new start for themselves. Back before 1876 when the inscription was made, the "huddled masses yearning to breathe" were the poor, oppressed people coming from Europe who were packed into "ghettos". A ghetto in Europe was simply a poor section of a city where people of the same race, religion or social status lived. The inscription means they are coming to America where they can breathe air and live freely. "The wretched refuse of your teeming shore" means all the people the countries did not want and were ready to be rid of. "Tempest-tost to me" speaks to the immigrants who were brave enough to make the rough journey when they could not afford to travel well. They were poor and could not afford first class passage. "I lift my lamp beside the golden door" means you can come at anytime, the light will always be burning. This is a sign of welcome anytime and always. The early settlers came to America to be free from religious persecution. They

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wanted to find better opportunities for themselves and their families. They saw America as this chance to start new. They saw numerous opportunities to make a better life for themselves.

What did immigration have to do with slavery? The earliest slaves in the seventeen hundreds were from Europe because the early settlers wanted to hire workers that were of the same race because they felt that they would be more obedient and do as the owners wanted. Many Europeans rejected the import of black slaves because they felt they would not be as obedient as slaves of their own kind. Black slaves were being shipped to the Caribbean and South America (Chao & Spencer, ND). This began to end because the European slaves would sign contracts that would commit them to short work terms and then they would be free to become active progressive citizens. When the white slaves were set free from their contracts they would be replaced by a black slave who did not have a contract and would not become free after some time. He would serve his owner and his children would serve his owner. Because of this black slave movement, many white slaves would not go to southern plantation states. They would instead go to the northern states of New York and Pennsylvania where there were no plantations. In these states they still had hope to one day be their own land owner. In the eighteenth century the slave trade across the Atlantic from Africa was riddled with cruelty. African slaves were packed into ships bound for America. They ships were overcrowded and many of them became sick and died. Slavery continued in America until President Lincoln came into office. Lincoln wanted slaves to be free but he "did not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races" (Carnes & Garraty, 2008). Lincoln however started the action of freeing the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. This did not immediately free all slaves but it began a process. Even though slaves had been coming here for almost a century, it was not until the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866 which gave slaves the right to own property. The

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Fifteenth Amendment, passed in 1869, forbade all states to deny the right to vote to anyone "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (Carnes & Garraty, 2008). Though people were flocking to America for freedom, it took black slaves many years to gain their freedom. I do not think that if it was that hard for everyone to come here to be free that they would have flocked here as they did.

The state of immigration in present America is a great debate. There are many differing opinions on immigration in America. The Refugee Relief Act of 1953 allowed person from a country or area that was not Communist controlled, who felt they were being persecuted, in fear of being persecuted, or was put out of their home due to military actions, who felt they could not return to that area, would be allowed to apply for a visa in order to stay in America. This act however also states that there would be no further visas issued after December 31, 1956. In 1980 this act was somewhat updated with the Refugee Act of 1980. This stated clearly that people who were not able or willing to return to their country because they have been persecuted or fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. The act now made it clear that people who had done the persecuting were not able to come to America and apply for asylum or restriction on removal. People looking for asylum must fall into the definitions of a refugee as defined by this act in

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