Immigration debate old as U.S.Breaking News
The debate over whether those who come from "out there" to "in here" are to be welcomed or repelled illustrates a paradox at the heart of this national enterprise - at once America is a country of immigrants and a country threatened by immigrants.
"There is nothing new about the issue of immigration becoming a hot political topic," says Gary Gerstle, a historian at the University of Maryland, College Park. "There are points historically when it becomes a major issue and grabs the attention of the polity in a major way.
"From that viewpoint, it is not surprising that something like this is happening today," he says. "The United States has long insisted, on the one hand, with having a relatively open border but, on the other hand, with being concerned about the volume, manner and character of those coming across it."
It is hard to find a point in American history when this was not an issue.
"This goes all the way back to the beginning of the country," says Matthew Crenson, a political scientist at the Johns Hopkins University.
"There was a debate, in fact, between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in the early part of the 19th century," he says. "Jefferson argued that immigration was a good thing because it would bring people who would contribute to the economy of the new country, while Hamilton argued that it was a bad thing since it would threaten the distinctive Anglo-American culture of the country."
The immigrants Jefferson was backing were the so-called Scotch-Irish, the Protestants who ended up populating much of the South.
But Jefferson also had his problems with immigrants, an early example of the recurring issue of language.
"Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were worried about German speakers," says Aristide Zolberg, director of the International Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship at the New School University in New York. "They thought the German language was different and would bring with it cultural antagonisms to what they were trying to establish as an American outlook."...
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- One of the last remaining Nazis goes on trial in Germany
- Inside story finally told of the young US diplomat who cracked the case of the murder of 4 nuns in El Salvador in 1980
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges