November 10, 2018
For my writing assignment I am going to discuss immigration. Immigration is a hot button topic right now. Many Americans are debating over things like building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and the migrant caravan, however, it is not just a recent phenomenon. Immigration has been a prominent issue in U.S. history almost since it’s creation. I will be discussing some key events in American history that pertain to immigrations, as well as current issues, and how they correlate.
The first event I am going to discuss is the Non-Legislative State Department Restrictions during World War II in 1939 to 1941. During WWII many Jews trying to flee Nazi occupation attempted to immigrate into the United States. The American government, however, wanted to use caution when allowing people in. Visa applicants were required to submit moral affidavits, attesting to their identities and good conduct, from several responsible disinterested persons, in addition to financial affidavits CITATION Uni18 l 1033 (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). The State Department cautioned consular officials to exercise particular care in screening applicants: “In view of the international situation, it is essential that all aliens seeking admission into the United States, including both immigrants and nonimmigrants be examined with the greatest care CITATION Uni18 l 1033 (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). This made it difficult for anyone to immigrate into the United States. Second, I am going to talk about is the Immigrant Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986. During the 1980s the number of Latino immigrants in California was higher than any other ethnic group. One factor that played into this was the agricultural industry had a shortage of manpower due to WWII. Because of this, Congress passed the Bracero Accord in 1942. This allowed farmers to recruit foreign workers from Mexico, this stayed in effect until 1964. Another factor was the election of socialist, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Early in his first term, President Ronald Reagan announced that Central America would be a primary focus of his administration’s effort to curb Communist expansionism CITATION Pic181 l 1033 (Picture This: California Perspectives on American History). The United States started to train counterinsurgent troops and many Quaker organizations and Catholic churches in California and the Southwest participated in the Sanctuary Movement giving undocumented Central American immigrants that were fleeing from the civil war shelter. CITATION Pic181 l 1033 (Picture This: California Perspectives on American History). At the same time, Mexico, burdened by international debt, imposed economic austerity measures further hurting the poorest members of its society, which caused thousands to make the dangerous trek north for economic survival. CITATION Pic181 l 1033 (Picture This: California Perspectives on American History). This resulted in Ronal Reagan declaring the issue of immigration one of national security. He told members of Congress that “The U.S. had lost control” of its borders to an “invasion of illegal immigrants.” CITATION Pic181 l 1033 (Picture This: California Perspectives on American History). After this Congress enacted the IRCA, the act increased patrols along the U.S.-Mexican border, sanctions on employers of undocumented workers, and an amnesty program for long-term undocumented residents CITATION Pic181 l 1033 (Picture This: California Perspectives on American History). Many foreign-born residents in the U.S. took advantage of this program, leading to naturalization and green-card status. CITATION Pic181 l 1033 (Picture This: California Perspectives on American History). A lot of the foreign-born labors wanted to keep their Mexican citizenship, because they viewed their residence in California as temporary. However, because of the IRCA they had to choose, many chose to stay, and sent for their families.
The third event is about the Migrant Caravan, which is taking place now in 2018. The Migrant aravan is a group from Central America traveling to the United States to seek asylum. Two caravans, each with more than 3,000 travelers, are trailed by at least two additional groups of several hundred migrants CITATION The18 l 1033 (The Washington Post). President Trump says that up to 15,000 soldiers could be sent to the Mexico border CITATION The18 l 1033 (The Washington Post). There they would try to keep the migrants from entering the United states illegally. This is not the first one however earlier this year there was another migrant caravan that tried to cross Mexico into the United States. CNN did an interview with one of the migrants, Gabriela Hernandez. In the interview she makes statements like, “Trump is mad at the caravan”, and “He talks about us like we are the plague”CITATION Gab18 l 1033 (Hernandez). That caravan was made up of about 1,500 migrants and according to the Washington Post, about 400 ended up crossing into the United States to seek asylum. The current caravan still has quite a bit of land to trek before they make it to the United States, and how it will turn out once they reach the border is still unknown.
The Non-Legislative State Department Restrictions in the late 1930s and early 1940s are like what is going on with the migrant caravan in many ways. Both involve people trying to flee from their respective countries during a tumultuous time. The United States for both situations, also show caution when allowing people in. However, the former wanted to limit immigration into the U.S. because, in addition to being in WWII, they were also going through the Great Depression. Therefore, many did not want to add any more stress into an already strenuous period, although some anti-Semitism was present in the U.S. The IRCA is similar in that both try to deter immigrants from settling in the United States one reason being to help the employment of legal citizens, however the IRCA allowed those already inside before January 1, 1982 to become citizens and actually increased the immigrant population.
In conclusion Immigration has long been an issue for the United States. Attitude about immigrants often change from generation to generation. Like some of the events stated above issues with immigration often are a result of issues already present in the United States as opposed to the immigrants themselves, and views on immigration are not always negative. I believe this pattern will continue well into the future.
“United States Immigration and Refugee Law, 1921–1980.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/united-states-immigration-and-refugee-law-1921-1980.
“The Reagan Years: 1980s: Mexican American Culture.” Progressive Era: 1890–1920s: Progressive Political Reform | Picture This, Picture This: California Perspectives on American History, picturethis.museumca.org/timeline/reagan-years-1980s/mexican-american-culture/info.
Santiago, Leyla, and Khushbu Shah. “A Migrant Mom’s Diary of 3,000 Hellish Miles.” CNN, Cable News Network, 28 Apr. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/04/27/us/mexico-migrant-caravan-diary/index.html.
Miroff, Nick. “Migrant Caravan: At Mexico City Camp, Caravan Families Are at a Crossroads.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Nov. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/10/24/migrant-caravan-updates/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ba99d2572ae1.