The Statue of Liberty.

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Question: The Statue of Liberty has a plaque that says:

“Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send them, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Is this welcoming attitude still appropriate in today’s America?

This is a discussion forum (personal opinion)

Reading Material: MMIGRATION

There is an inscription on the Statue of Liberty. It reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send them, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Between 1866 and 1915, 25 million immigrants came to the U.S. Major Eastern cities came to consist of 80% immigrants. Most immigrants came from Europe, fleeing unemployment, food shortages, discrimination, and threats of war. They followed the American dream they had heard about in search of a better life.

Up until about 1896, most immigrants to the United States came from northern and western Europe. These so called “good” immigrants were generally Protestant, literate, and with some experience with democratic institutions. It was relatively easy for these to assimilate into American culture.

However, the newer immigrants tended to come from Southern and Eastern Europe (Russia, Italy, Poland, etc.) and to be Catholic or Jewish, illiterate, and with no democratic experience. Frequently, these immigrants clustered together with others of like nationality in certain sections of the city. For example, more Italians lived in New York City than in Naples, Italy; New York City had the largest Jewish community in the world.

These large immigrant groups normally preserved their cultural heritage through intermarriage, immigrant associations, ethnic newspapers, churches, and schools. So much ethnic affiliation did, however, retard the assimilation process and alienate certain groups from mainstream America.

Some races advanced more quickly than others. Jews seemed to do especially well. Several reasons account for this. Jewish cultural values (such as emphasis on education) were well suited to American life. Many Jews had lived in cities in Europe and were not as overwhelmed by city life as other ethnic groups. A large percentage of Jewish immigrants already had, or would strive to obtain, certain industrial “skills” that commanded higher wages. Most immigrated as family units rather than as isolated young men. They brought their life savings and most valuable possessions with them and generally sought only skilled, career-oriented positions.

About one-fourth of all immigrants to America had no intention of making this country their permanent home. They had left families back in Europe and planned only to make a “stake” in America and then return home to buy property or start a business. There was no reason for them to assimilate or to attempt to establish comfortable roots in this country.

Except for industry employers who appreciated the immigrants as an unlimited pool of cheap labor, most “native” Americans resented these strange “foreigners.” Workers saw competition for jobs; Protestants saw Catholics and Jews; Educators saw illiterate hordes; politicians saw peasants, unfamiliar with republican institutions; Social Darwinists saw dark-skinned, thick-browed people, far “below” Anglo-Saxons on the evolutionary ladder. Xenophobia accelerated after a Czechoslovakian immigrant assassinated President William McKinley simply because McKinley was a ruler and “it is right to kill them.”

“Nativists” developed derogatory names for these newcomers such as: kike, wop, dago, chink, bohunk, grease-ball. Anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism revived. The Chinese, who worked most cheaply of all, were the most despised. They became the scapegoats for many of the problems in America. They were blamed for various diseases, drug abuse, low wages. The Chinese and other immigrant groups were the targets of widespread discrimination and violence. However, without immigrant labor, American industrialization would have proceeded at a much slower pace.

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