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Read the article “Immigration Then and Now” By Gwenyth Swain; Cobblestone, May/Jun2013, Vol. 34 Issue 5, p. 13, 4p.
IMMIGRATION Then and NOW.
The article presents an interview with several young immigrants in St. Paul, Minnesota including Gedion from Ethiopia, Myint from Thailand, and Quynh Thi from Vietnam, including information on their journeys, the reasons why they came to America, and their advice for other immigrants.
IMMIGRATION Then and NOW
What’s it like to be a modern immigrant? Recently, I talked with Gedion, Myint, and Quynh Thi, three young immigrants in St. Paul, Minnesota. As I got to know them, I wondered: How does their experience differ from that of immigrants a century ago? And how has immigration stayed the same over the years? Despite the challenges they face, they are an optimistic bunch. (They have that in common with immigrants from all eras in U.S. history.) My questions about their experiences got all kinds of answers.
In the early 1900s, the vast majority of new immigrants in the United States were from European countries. Today, things have changed.
What country are you from?
GEDION: Ethiopia, from the city of Addis Abbaba. It’s much bigger than here.
MYINT: Thailand, from a refugee camp. (Myint was born in Burma. Because her minority Karen-speaking ethnic group was persecuted in Burma, her family was forced to flee the country, first going to Thailand and then coming to the United States.)
QUYNH THI: I’m from Vietnam, and I speak Vietnamese.
A century ago, immigrants traveled on crowded ships, spending five or more days at sea. Upon arriving in the United States, they typically passed through the immigration station at Ellis Island in New York or Angel Island in California to have their documents checked, then traveled several more days by train to places such as Minnesota. These days, the journey is faster — -usually by plane.
When did you come to the U.S.?
GEDION: I came on June 12, 2009.I was 16 years old. It is an important day for me. I actually celebrate it each year.
What was your journey like?
MYINT: When we were in Thailand, we got help from the United Nations — food and help getting us permission to come here.
QUYNH THI: My family came to California first, and we didn’t get any help from the government because we are not refugees. Our grandparents sponsored us. It’s hard to live on your own without help. Every day I saw my parents get upset because they couldn’t find a job. But here in Minnesota things are better.
Some things about being an immigrant haven’t changed much over the last 100 years. If you’re an immigrant, you’re still the new and different kid on the block — and that can be hard. You have to learn how things work and adjust to a new life.
Was it scary?
GEDION: Yes, it was scary. I didn’t know that much English, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have any friends. My parents said, “Just do your best and you’ll get through it. The English will just come to you.” And I think it’s true. But when I first came here, it was really difficult to make a friend. I didn’t usually go out then. I’d stay home and get bored. Now I go out more and have lots of fun.
One hundred years ago, all members of an immigrant family had to work to help make ends meet. Today, most immigrant kids go to school and enjoy greater freedom.
What’s the best thing about coming to the United States?
QUYNH THI: Education. I like how the environment is in school. It’s better. Also, it’s easy to learn with the technology.
MYINT: My favorite thing to do? Just come to school.
What’s the biggest difference between your home country and the United States?
MYINT: When we came here, if we wanted to travel, we didn’t have to ask permission. In Thailand, if you don’t ask permission to travel, they will catch you and you have to pay money.
GEDION: The education is different here. If you don’t do your homework, you’re not going to get punished. In [Ethiopia], you would get punishment. All the teachers have a stick or a rubber thing that they [use to] hit your hand.
The United States has long represented a land of opportunity. But many immigrants — then and now — have had to leave something important behind when they come here.
What do you miss the most?
MYINT: Just my relatives. I just came with my aunt and uncle and cousin.
QUYNH THI: I miss my cousin, my friends, and my home country food, too. And when you’re living here, you don’t have the same relationship with your neighbor. Back home, you know everybody around you. Here, when someone is sick, you don’t know who to ask for help.
GEDION: I miss my grandparents because I grew up with them. My parents came here earlier. I thought their English would be very good, but they don’t have time to get an education. They just came here and got a job. Now I do most of the paying of the bills, reading, and translating things for them. I help my little brothers, too.
What advice would you give to other immigrants?
MYINT: To not give up. Try your best if you can.
QUYNH THI: Don’t let other people change your mind. Keep looking forward.
This sounds like pretty good advice, whether you’re an immigrant or not. Just as they did a century ago, immigrants today help to make this country great. They offer an example of how to deal with the scary stuff of life, embrace change, stay true to your roots, and learn from experience.
Many immigrants in the early 1900s came like this Polish teenager carrying his trunk on board a ship in 1907.
The immigrant journey-then and now-can be frightening. These young immigrants from Europe a century ago await a terry and a train to their final destination.
These immigrant children in 1911 did not go to school like Gedion, Quynh Thi, and Myint. They helped support their family by doing piecework.
American should not take their freedoms for granted.
RIGHT: Gedion (from Ethiopia), Quynh Thi (from Vietnam), and Myint (from Burma) all share the goal of getting a good job-after they’ve gotten an education. They’re students at LEAP (ABOVE), a high school for English-language learners in St. Paul, Minnesota.
By Gwenyth Swain
How do the backgrounds and experiences of the recent immigrants in this article compare to the backgrounds and experiences of European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
*** Provide specific examples.
You will need to use the readings from this course
Compare the earlier wave of immigrants to the immigrants of today
Things in common
Not in common
Things left behind
Reasons for leaving
Push & pull factors
2 pages, written assignment.
First, follow the links to read the articles below (You will need your Saint Leo Login), then answer this question:
Should there be a legal path to citizenship for the undocumented children of illegal immigrants? Why or why not? If you were charged with proposing a solution to this dilemma, what do you think would be the best and most fair way to address this problem? Be sure to provide a detailed step-by-step proposal. How does your proposal relate to the Saint Leo Core Values of Community and Personal Development?
CQ Researcher Report, “Immigration,” 2013
See the Chronology
June 15, 2013
Will Congress reform the nation’s immigration laws this year?
The political winds may have shifted on the divisive, long-stalled issue of immigration reform. In June the Senate began considering a bipartisan bill that would bolster border security while providing a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants. Many observers attribute the change to the growing clout of the Hispanic electorate, which voted overwhelmingly for President Obama in November, and to recent polls showing support for citizenship for some immigrants. Although migration from Mexico has fallen since 2007, the 2010 Census found that Latinos represented more than half of the U.S. population growth during the previous decade, most of it in the West and South. Six states, mostly in those two regions, have passed tough anti-immigration laws recently, but 21 others are considering relaxing access to college or drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants.
|Delegate Antonia Gonzalez of Seattle sports a “Latinos for Obama” hat at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4, 2012. Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in November, the largest margin in a presidential race since 1996, triggering an apparent shift in the political winds on immigration reform. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)|
As thousands of people of different ages and ethnicities gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol on April 10, the message was clear on the waving signs, in the hopeful chants and in the name of the rally itself: “The Time is Now.”
The boisterous rally, one of several held that day around the country, was organized to push for congressional action to allow the 11 million immigrants who arrived here illegally to stay in the United States and eventually become citizens. The optimistic tone was a sign of how the political winds appear to have shifted on an issue that has long divided the nation.
For years, fierce resistance among some Americans has blocked congressional efforts to consider allowing those who arrived in the country without proper documentation to stay. But in June the Senate began work on major immigration reform, a shift many political analysts say is a direct result of the overwhelming Hispanic vote in the 2012 election for President Obama, who favored immigration reform.
Several plans that include a path to citizenship have been suggested, including proposals from President Obama and from House Democrats. But most hopes for reform rest with a bipartisan plan crafted by four Republican and four Democratic senators, introduced in late April and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13 to 5 on May 21. The so-called “Gang of Eight” bill would strengthen border security, requiring that within five years the Department of Homeland Security set up a system to monitor the entire southern U.S. border and catch 90 percent of the people crossing illegally in designated “high-risk” sectors.
The measure would create more temporary work visas in certain fields, including high-tech and agriculture, while eventually eliminating the number of visas available for some relatives of U.S. citizens. The legislation also would speed up implementation of the government’s “e-verify” online employee-checking system and require businesses to use it to make sure hires are legal residents. Companies that fail to use the system or continue to employ workers in the country illegally would face penalties, including fines that would vary depending on the violation.
But the heart of the bill is a 13-year path to citizenship that would be available to most unauthorized immigrants once border-security plans are in place. Applicants would have to have arrived before Jan. 1, 2012, pay a $1,000 fine along with federal back taxes, learn English, pass a criminal background check and remain employed.
If they did so, they would face a 10-year probationary period before they could apply for a green card, making them eligible for citizenship three years later. Younger immigrants brought to the United States before age 16 who meet standards suggested in an earlier proposal, known as the Dream Act, would be eligible for a green card in five years and citizenship immediately afterwards.
Debate by the full Senate, which began on June 11, promises to be lengthy. Some conservative lawmakers have denounced the proposal as “amnesty” for those who arrived illegally. Even if the legislation passes the Senate it faces a rougher road in the Republican-dominated House, where opposition to any path to citizenship is stronger.
Organizations that helped defeat reform in 2007, when President George W. Bush pushed for major immigration changes, believe the Senate bill faces a similar fate once the public learns more about it. “If you ask people, would you rather see America enforce the laws that are on the books or do you want to have a legalization program, the American people choose enforcement,” says Rosemary Jenks, government relations director for NumbersUSA, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that favors immigration reduction.
But advocates of allowing most immigrants who arrived illegally to stay in the country are optimistic the nation’s mood has changed. “I think we’re in a stronger position than we’ve been in many, many years,” says Angela Kelley, vice president for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank.
Political analysts note that evangelical churches, a key part of the Republican coalition, recently have taken a more accommodating tone concerning undocumented immigrants, and even some public officials who have been at the forefront of pushing to remove immigrants who had arrived illegally, such as Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, have tempered their rhetoric since the 2012 presidential election.
“There are signs that people are sort of saying, ‘Whoa, maybe we’ve gone too far,’ ” says Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, a Washington-based research group.
Many analysts believe the situation is more favorable because of polls showing support for allowing some unauthorized immigrants to stay in the United States and become citizens. Others cite the growing clout of the Hispanic electorate, which voted overwhelmingly for Obama.
Before the 2012 election, Obama issued a policy directive, modeled on the Dream Act, allowing young immigrants who had been brought here without proper documentation and who were of “good moral character” and doing well in school to avoid deportation. He also expressed support for a route to citizenship for most other undocumented immigrants. In contrast, Romney favored a plan of “self-deportation,” in which undocumented immigrants would voluntarily leave the country and get in line with other applicants for a visa.
“The Democrats signaled, ‘Hey, we care about you guys,’ and the Republicans doubled down on saying, ‘We’re all about law and order; we’re the border-security party,’ ” says John Skrentny, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
Obama won the Hispanic vote 71 to 27 percent, the largest margin of victory in a presidential race since President Clinton captured 72 percent of those votes in 1996. “The demographic message of that election was clear,” says Skrentny. “You saw shell-shocked GOP leaders on election night.”
Since the election, some Republicans have proclaimed openness to reform that would allow law-abiding undocumented immigrants to stay, while other Republicans remain opposed to such a move. Analysts expect those differences to play out as Congress considers legislation.
“The debate is going to be, to a large extent, between Republicans,” says Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, a group supporting a path to citizenship for immigrants who arrived illegally. “I think they’re facing a real moment of truth.”
Sharry says he is confident that enough Republicans are willing to support a bill including a route to citizenship that one will finally pass.
In the last five years, illegal crossings have fallen off drastically along the U.S.-Mexico border. A May 2012 study by the Pew Research Hispanic Center concluded that the United States may actually be experiencing a small outflow of unauthorized Mexican immigrants. At the very least, the authors concluded, “The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill.”
Other evidence supports the Pew Research conclusion. The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego regularly interviews migrants in Mexico and the United States to determine their motivations and actions. “New migration is way down, and it has been falling continuously since 2007, when the recession began to hit the [U.S.] construction sector,” says Wayne Cornelius, center director emeritus. “It’s clear that the Great Recession, the shortage of jobs in the United States, was a huge deterrent.”
The decline also occurred during a significant security buildup along the border. In the last 10 years, the number of Border Patrol agents overall has more than doubled, reaching 21,394 in 2012. The United States also has built 651 miles of fence along its southern border and greatly increased spending on lighting, motion sensors, cameras and other security infrastructure.
|Migrant workers pick strawberries near Oxnard, Calif., on March 13, 2013. An immigration reform bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate would, among other things, create more temporary work visas for agricultural workers. (AFP/Getty Images/Joe Klamar)|
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has cited declining apprehensions along the border as evidence the border is more secure. But Cornelius says the center’s research indicates that 85 percent of migrants who try to cross illegally still make it into the United States.
The security buildup, Cornelius says, has increased the fees would-be migrants pay smugglers, or “coyotes,” to get them across the border, which has contributed to the decline. But Cornelius believes the main effect of the beefed up border security has been to divert illegal immigration to other areas. “A good example of that is how many illegal entries are occurring through the legal ports of entry,” he says. “That’s been going up ever since we began building up border security and will become even more pronounced if more money is spent on enforcement.” While some migrants are smuggled over the border through ports of entry in vehicles, many arrive on short-term visas, but stay in the country after their visas expire.
Cornelius does not believe the extra $4.5 billion, for border enforcement included in the Senate reform bill will make much difference. “The effect is going to be very minimal,” Cornelius says. “It’s time to declare victory at the border and move on.”
But organizations working to limit immigration, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), believe security still must be bolstered. “The border still remains entirely unprotected in some areas where the terrain tends to be a natural barrier and in other remote areas,” FAIR states on its website.
In 2010, Arizona’s Gov. Brewer signed the most highly publicized anti-illegal immigration law in the nation. It included a wide range of provisions, including penalties for harboring, hiring or transporting undocumented immigrants. It also made it a misdemeanor for an immigrant to be in Arizona without proper documentation.
But the most controversial provision required the police to ask for documentation from anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally. This “show me your papers” provision led to protests across the state and was part of legal challenges to the measure that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a ruling in June 2012, the high court upheld the provision while striking down other parts of the law as improper state assumptions of federal authority. By then, however, several states already had considered similar laws.
In May 2012, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley had signed an immigration bill considered the toughest in the nation, which barred undocumented immigrants from attending college, seeking work or renting property. Five states eventually passed laws similar to Arizona’s, and supporters predicted more would follow.
But Jonathan Blazer, who has been tracking state action for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the movement has stalled. “More states are concluding that this is really a federal issue,” Blazer says, “and also that it carries with it a fair amount of controversy that they are choosing to avoid.”
One such controversy occurred in Alabama in 2011, when a Mercedes-Benz executive visiting a Mercedes factory that had been aggressively recruited by the state was stopped because his rental car lacked a license tag. When he could not provide identification that met the test of the new law, he was taken into custody.
Immigrant-friendly bills have been introduced in many states, Blazer points out. “There are roughly 20 states that are currently considering bills to improve access to higher education for immigrants,” he says. “Twenty-one states are looking at improving access to drivers’ licenses, including about a dozen [considering] granting licenses to undocumented immigrants.”
The more tolerant attitude is partly a reaction to laws like those in Arizona and Alabama, Giovagnoli says. “It’s taken some of these really extreme bills and some of the scandals that resulted — in Alabama, for example, when kids weren’t going to school — to make people say, ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t just about immigration; it’s about families and people and the way we treat each other.’ ”
America has always been a nation of immigrants. Waves of Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries initially unsettled the existing population and sparked often violent backlashes before eventually becoming assimilated into the American population.
The current wave of immigration is similarly transforming the nation’s identity. The U.S. immigrant population, legal and undocumented, reached a record 40 million — or 13 percent of the total population in 2011. That’s second only to the 1890-1920 immigration wave, when the immigrant population reached 15 percent.
The single largest group of new arrivals hails from Mexico, which accounts for 29 percent of the foreign-born people living in the United States. South and East Asia comes next, with 25 percent of the U.S. immigrant population. The Caribbean, Central and South America account for the next largest groups of newcomers.
The large influx of Latinos, combined with growth in the U.S. native-born Hispanic population, have significantly changed the demographic composition of the country in the last 40 years. Latinos now make up nearly 17 percent of the population. The 2010 Census found they accounted for more than half of the nation’s population growth in the previous decade. In those 10 years, the U.S. Hispanic population surged 43 percent to reach 50.5 million.
The demographic shift has been most pronounced across the West and South, where it has been accompanied by increased political activity and is one reason many advocates of undocumented immigrants believe reform is inevitable. “These are the groups of voters that are following the issue closely because it’s deeply personal to them, and they’re animated, and they’re voting, and that’s potent,” says the Center for American Progress’ Kelley.
|April||Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs SB1070, a hardline immigration-enforcement measure designed to deter illegal immigration and force undocumented immigrants to leave the state.|
|December||The Senate fails to pass the Dream Act, which would have allowed young undocumented immigrants who graduated from high school and attended two years of college or served in the military to apply for citizenship.|
|December||Mitt Romney, the eventual Republican presidential nominee, tells a voter in Iowa he would veto the Dream Act. A month later Romney says he favors “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants.|
|June||President Obama implements a policy similar in intent to the Dream Act, allowing young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay in the country.… The U.S. Supreme Court rejects most provisions of Arizona’s law but upholds the provision allowing police to demand documentation from anyone they stop to prove the person is in the country legally.|
|November||Obama wins re-election, receiving 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, the largest margin since 1996.|
|January||A bipartisan group of eight senators announces plans to introduce an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million immigrants without legal documentation. One day later Obama announces a similar plan, which he says he will introduce if Congress fails to come up with a bill.|
|May||Senate Judiciary Committee approves comprehensive immigration reform bill.|
|June||Senate begins debate on immigration bill (June 11).|
About the Author
Reed Karaim is a freelance writer living in Tucson, Ariz.
“The American Dream?” By: Krasner, Barbara D.; Cobblestone, May/Jun2013, Vol. 34 Issue 5, p. 36, 4p
The American Dream?
The article discusses illegal immigration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and American President Barack Obama’s push for immigration reform as of May 2013, focusing on an analysis of the social and legal conditions of the nearly 11 million illegal aliens who are residing in the U.S.
Saint Leo University library subscribes to this title.
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The American Dream?
- Should they be allowed to stay?
- Or should they be returned to their countries of origin?
- Is there a middle ground?
- Your Turn
- For the DREAM Act
- Against the DREAM Act
After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, the federal government put tough controls in place to secure the nation’s borders. It established the Department of Homeland Security. Within this department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for safeguarding our international borders.
On a typical day, about 21,000 U.S. border control agents process nearly 100,000 people. They monitor 7,000 miles of land and 2,000 miles of coastal waters at 329 ports of entry. Border control agents work to keep the borders safe while also overseeing lawful international trade and travel.
They also prevent about 1,000 people from entering the country illegally every day. Yet some people still get through, and those numbers are adding up. Nearly 11 million immigrants in America today have come here illegally. That means they are living in the United States without the proper documentation and inspection. As illegal or undocumented people, they risk deportation if they are caught. Deportation is an order to leave the United States and return to one’s country of origin.
The big question now is: What happens to the people already in America, who have entered illegally but who have been living here as law-abiding people for years? Many of the adults among them have helped the U.S. economy by working hard in low-paying jobs. Some have paid taxes and contributed to Social Security benefits. Their children have known no other country and think of themselves as Americans.
Should they be allowed to stay?
Or should they be returned to their countries of origin?
Is there a middle ground?
In June 2012, President Barack Obama rallied for immigration reform and supported a proposal that would help young people who were brought to America illegally by their parents. To qualify, a person has to have been in the country for at least five consecutive years and be willing to go to college or serve in the military. Illegal immigrants who arrived when they were older than 16 and criminals do not qualify. Nearly 2 million people under the age of 31 could qualify under this act and realize their dreams of studying, working, and staying in America. If all goes well, each might reach the hope of one day becoming a U.S. citizen.
This idea, called the DREAM Act, has been floating around Congress for more than 10 years without any resolution. There are many viewpoints to consider.
Imagine you’re in a room of spokespeople for and against the DREAM Act. Each speaker comes to the front of the room to state his or her opinion. Listen carefully.
You’ve heard the arguments for both sides. Many factors must be considered, including homeland security, a successful economy, and giving opportunity to people who were brought into America as children who had no knowledge of legal or illegal entry.
Join the nationwide debate. Let us know what you think. Send your views about the DREAM Act and how the United States should handle illegal immigrants to: To Dream or Not to Dream, COBBLESTONE, 30 Grove Street, Peterborough, NH 03458. We’ll share some of your responses in an upcoming issue.
For the DREAM Act
Douglas, from Guatemala: I came to this country when I was 13 with my parents. They came to find better opportunities. With this act, I can get a better-paying job and attend college. I won’t have to worry about deportation. I’ll truly feel like an American.
Brenda, from Mexico: We came here when I was five. My parents had no way to support our family in Mexico. There were no jobs. I have no memories of Mexico. I want to go to college, maybe even become a nurse. But without documents, I cannot get financial aid to help me pay for my education.
Hugo, from Argentina: I hate waking up each morning thinking it could be my last day in America. I feel like I am an American, but the government sees me as an “alien.” I speak only English and I’ve never broken any laws!
Cinthia, from Haiti: I was an honor roll student in high school and dream about becoming a doctor. I can use the money I earn from a steady job to help pay for college. I’m willing to work hard for what I want. My parents taught me that.
Jose, prize-winning journalist, from the Philippines: In order to stay in this country, I had to forge more documents than I can count. I used a friend’s address to get a driver’s license. I never know if or when I will get caught.
Presidential candidate: The young people we are trying to help consider the United States their home. They view themselves as Americans. We need to find a way to address this issue on a national level.
Newspaper columnist: These immigrants are badly needed for our economy and our military service. And, if we force them back to the countries they came from, we are simply telling them we don’t care. Is that the message we want the world to hear?
Against the DREAM Act
Border official: Like any other immigrants, these people should have to pass a standard U.S. citizenship examination.
Enforcement agent: I would normally take an illegal immigrant into custody for a violation such as driving without a license. Now I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.
Congressman: The act breaks a promise to the American people. Nearly 2 million people, who arrived here without any documentation, can take spaces in colleges and jobs away from U.S. citizens.
Presidential candidate: What we really need is a high-technology border fence so we don’t have illegal immigrants in the first place.
Capitol Hill correspondent: Passage of this act will encourage even more illegal immigration. We should close the borders now and enforce a more aggressive anti-immigration policy.
Newspaper columnist: Fake IDs and driver’s licenses are a way to break into American society. We open ourselves up to threats like increased terrorism if we don’t enforce strict restrictions on illegal immigration.
Immigration attorney: I want to help families enter the United States, but they often have to wait a long time before our quota system allows them in. Why should we reward those who enter illegally? That disrespects clients like mine who are following our laws.
When you look carefully at this 1903 editorial cartoon and then read the pros and cons listed in this article, it seems like similar issues about immigration are raised by different generations.
History really does repeat itself.
For some recent immigrants, the United States is the only country they know because they came here as young children with their parents. But their lack of documentation has left them in a difficult predicament. Rallies to influence immigration policy have taken place in major cities across the nation.
By Barbara D. Krasner
Barbara D. Krasner is a freelance writer in New Jersey and a frequent contributor to COBBLESTONE. She often writes about immigration.