I am simply a citizen of the United States who is anxious over the revisionism of history that is taking place regarding illegal immigration. My opinion is that a person cannot have a correct perspective on illegal immigration unless one understands the history of immigrants coming into this country.
Someone may accuse me of being anti-immigration. Yet I am the grandson of immigrants from Austria, England and Russia. My case is that my ancestors came to this country legally while maintaining citizenship in this country as an essential goal.
Yet when we view today's news, we're not getting the full picture of what is taking place when immigrants cross the border into our country. For example, view these photos of the Arizona Sonoran Desert outside Tucson to try to understand the concerns Arizonans have with immigrants crossing the U.S/Mexico border and then trashing the U.S. as soon as they enter. If this kind of disrespect and trashing of our land took place in your neighborhood, you'd be up in arms.
When our ancestors came into this country, they looked at arrival in the land of the free as a sacred privilege. Visit Ellis Island, one of the places immigrants landed, to see the regard foreigners had for America. They surely did not trash this country upon entering it!
Looking at immigration from a historical perspective, from 1820 to 1996 the United States welcomed 63 million immigrants. Thirty eight million came from Europe; eleven million from Latin America and 7.9 million arrived from Asia. The largest group from Europe was the Germans with 7.2 million.
Don't forget that America borders two other countries - Canada and Mexico. Before 2000 there were 5.5 million illegal Mexican immigrants that came to the U.S. In 2002 the count grew to 9.8 million illegal immigrants from Mexico. In 2006 the number of illegal aliens in this country was estimated at eleven million, according to Heather McDonald. One can only estimate that the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico living in the U.S. is close to twenty million in light of the two million a year growth since 1998.
At the turn of the century that 4.4 million Canadians lived in the U.S.and the number is growing. In addition, to immigrants from our two bordering countries, we have seen immigrants from Vietnam, China, Philippines, India and many Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel especially in recent years.
By the time of the first census in 1790 the U.S. population stood at 3,929,214. Most of the these inhabitants was made up of immigrants or descendants of immigrants.
It is essential to know that until 1790 immigration to the United State was unrestricted by U.S. law. The doors to America were totally open, according to Land of the Free by David Sean Paludeine. Then on March 26, 1790 Congress felt compelled to lass a law signed by President George Washington regulating immigration. This was the first federal immigration law and it was okayed by the first president of the U.S. The law established a uniform code for an immigrant becoming naturalized. The person seeking to become a U.S. citizen needed to reside in the States for at least two years.
In 1795 the residence requirement was changed to five years and the law now required that for someone to enter America, they must declare their intention to seek citizenship.
Did you catch that? To enter the U.S. back in the late 1700s you had to declare your intention to become a U.S. citizen to stay here.
The laws regulating immigration into the U.S. continued to grow as the young nation began to mature. President John Adam signed the Naturalization Act of 1798 that boosted the residence requirements of immigrants coming to the U.S. from five years to fourteen.
The Naturalization Act of 1802 pushed the residence requirements for living in the U.S. back to five years. In addition, the basic requirements for naturalization required a good moral character, allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and a formal declaration of intention to become naturalized. This is U.S. Law not Arizona law.
Our politicians need to look at history to see how our forefathers viewed immigrants coming into this country. Today's generation is shooting from the hip when it comes to illegals Illegal immigrants must be faced with their need to become citizens of the U.S., learn the English language and respect the rule of law of this land. If they cannot live under the laws of this land, it's best that they return to their land of origin. Am I being radical? No. I am reflecting the views of those great men and women who founded this country.
I don't want people coming into this country who flaunt their disregard for the U.S. Constitution. Of course, citizens of the U.S. need to bone up on what's in the Constitution as well.
One more law that will put everything into perspective. In 1819 the Steerage Act was passed and required vessels carrying immigrants into this country to report the number of refugees they had on board. The passenger lists or manifests of all arriving vessels had to be delivered to a local Collector of Customs, and then copies of that manifest were given to the U.S. Secretary of State who handed the numbers to Congress. The ships' manifestos were the first formal recording of immigrants coming into the New World.
When it came to immigration, the early settlers of the United States wanted to know how many were arriving here and what were their names.
You need to realize how far we've come from the days of the founding of our country. I've much more to share from U.S. history about the legal requirements for entering the country and what it took to become a U.S. citizenship.
How does this historical data affect your views of immigration today?