Immigration in United States has been high since the time of its reputation as the “New World” especially during Westward extension. This issue has been a subject of concern in the nineteenth century (Walker, 1896) as well as in the twenty-first century (CNN, 2008). Immigration issues has been a vital point of discussion ever since. The question that has always surrounded these issues was to whether or not immigration should be restricted from the United States. Definitely, there were arguments for and against the stand, but the arguments, against immigration have not changed. The reasons which were provided in the nineteenth century are still being ranted while protesting against immigration. This essay provides an understanding of what was the argument then and now and the potent of similarity or dissimilarity between them.
Immigration in the nineteenth century was a problem for the citizens of United States (Walker, 1896). Immigration caused a few major problems to the society. First was reducing the domestic wages. Illegal immigrants entered the country with little skill and were eager to work at low wages. It was argued that they drove the wages down. Secondly, immigrants from all parts of the world were arriving to the country and some parts which the Americans were not even aware of. This created heterogeneity in the American community which the Americans were not very comfortable in the nineteenth century. Thirdly, immigrants posed security and political problems which made the life of average Americans difficult. So through the American dislike of immigrants was created through the discursive form of nationhood where the immigrants were branded as the others. They were thought to be disruptions to the “American way of life” and Americans then were hostile to the idea of an immigrant settling in the country. Further, there was a general view that the immigration policy of the government had been neglected which was the cause of the increase in the number of immigrants in the country. So the general feeling was immigration should be restricted to prevent immigrants from entering the country.
Given the above discussion on the immigrant issues in the nineteenth century America, I will now demonstrate the general view about the issue in the current, twenty-first centuries. Immigrants are bought in the countries, especially Hispanics, who take away the job of an average American and thus decreases the wage rates. There is still an aversion towards immigrants working at homes of people which has been demonstrated through the case of Michael Chertoff and the cleaning company (CNN, 2008). The company had submitted false papers for making an illegal immigrant work for their company. The otherness that was disseminated in the nineteenth century America has taken its roots through the words “illegal aliens” being used for immigrants (CNN, 2008). It is still believed that immigrants are acting against the “national interest” and enforcement to reduce immigrants has to be even more stringent.
The problem related to immigrants is similar. The problem with immigrants again links to jobs. In the nineteenth century, immigrants were being hired at lower wages driving down the national wage rates. Now it is the immigrants eating away the job opportunity of American citizens. The present day solution to the problem is this that immigration cannot completely stop, as holes in the border will continue to remain. The step that is believed to stop the problem is to dissuade employers from hiring immigrants by law. Clearly the feeling of enmity and otherness attached to immigrants in the American society still persists.
- CNN. (2008). Lou Dobbs Tonight. Web.
- Walker, F. A. (1896). Restriction of Immigration. he Atlantic Monthly Volume 77 No. 464 , 822-829.