In the early days of our country, a vast and largely unsettled continent lay before the Founding Fathers and their successors. Its natural resources were virtually untapped and appeared limitless. Arable land and water were abundant. Family farms were scattered across the landscape and farming, hunting, fishing and herding employed more Americans than any other occupation. Now thirsty cities are buying up water rights to serve their burgeoning populations leaving behind the land made unproductive by the lack of water resources. The ranches and farms will no longer be able to produce the food needed to feed the growing numbers of Americans as our population doubles every 50 years. These and the other changes in our country and society are important in analyzing and understanding the current wave of immigration.
The characteristics of our newest immigrants and illegal aliens are not that different from those of a century ago. Their faces and their languages may be different but their aspirations, work ethic, and desire to improve their lives and those of their families are not much different from those of the earlier immigrants. They are not necessarily the poorest of the poor but now they come from what many of us would call third world countries. The earlier immigrants from
So what is different today that justifies a more critical view of the newest immigrants and illegal aliens? It is the changes in
Modern technologies like fax, prepaid phone cards, modems, video cameras, high speed internet, and frequent flier miles, foster the creation of transnational immigrant communities and undermine the rootedness needed to achieve emotional assimilation and national cohesion that characterized the outcomes with earlier immigrants. Such transnational communities make it easier for the inhabitants to make a living and communicate with their neighbors without having to learn the language of the host nation. They represent microcosms of the immigrants' homelands and enable the continuation of old ways and old customs without any need to assimilate.
Other changes are hard to quantify but are just as real in marking modern society as a break from the past, a weakening of community and civic engagement, increased religious skepticism, a greater sense of responsibility for the less fortunate, a rejection of racial and religious discrimination, and concern for our stewardship of the natural world.
(adapted and supplemented from the well-research and carefully documented "The New Case Against Immigration" by Mark Krikorian)