No other country in the world has welcomed more immigrants than the United States. Immigrants created the great "melting pot" that is America. However, the notion of "melting" or assimilating into American society is no longer taught, adding to the problems of an overburdened and broken immigration system. Presidential candidates on both sides claim to have the answer. But to actually find a solution, we have to understand how we got here and what's been tried in the past. This four-part series covers the remarkable history of immigration in America and why the modern system desperately needs of reform.
Immigration in America Part II: The 20th Century
In 2014, nearly 10 million visas were issued by the United States to those seeking to enter the country --- including over 1 million admitted permanently. Overall, the United States has one of the highest immigrant populations and is one of the most visited countries on earth.
Some believe those who make it across our borders --- legally or not --- should be embraced and allowed to stay. This rift has divided Americans for generations. It has also created the false impression around the globe that Americans are extraordinarily xenophobic and racist when, in fact, the United States is the most culturally, ethnically and racially diverse nation in the history of mankind.
As highly regarded as diversity is now, unity was once thought to be paramount. American leadership knew, as Lincoln stated, a nation divided against itself cannot stand. That didn't apply to just slavery in the Civil War period. It also applied to having a common language, a common culture and a constitutional direction.
Well after his presidency in 1919, Teddy Roosevelt expressed what many Americans felt on the immigration --- immigrants coming in good faith should become Americans and assimilate. There could be no divided allegiance, no room for loyalty to any nation or flag other than America. Many progressives in America today who would take issue with the founder of the progressive party's opinions on immigration.
Between 1944 and 1954, the number of immigrants coming from Mexico increased by 6,000 percent. The problem of illegal immigration from Mexico, Central and South America, had become such a problem by 1954 that there were already around 3 million here illegally. Thus, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced a new program to deal with the situation. Border agents were sent through California, Arizona, Texas, and northward into Nevada, Utah and even Idaho, rounding up illegal aliens for deportation. Within three months, border agents had apprehended and sent back deep into Mexico over 130,000 illegal aliens. And another 1.1 million more, fearing apprehension, self-deported back to their homes in Mexico and South America. By 1955, 2.1 million illegals had either been deported or had left the United States on their own. The problem was declared and solved for a time.
But it didn't last long.
Listen to the Full Series on Immigration