American Immigration: Fear, Myth, and Reality

Jeffrey Engel – Southern Methodist University

The United States is a nation of immigrants, a beacon of hope and liberty peoples around the world have struggled to reach. Yet Americans have not always welcomed new arrivals with open arms. From colonial days to the present, debates over immigration help define whom Americans are, what they believe their country has and should be, and reveal most of all each generation’s politics and priorities.

Do our the debates over immigration reform indicate the welcome mat has worn thin? What does it mean to hold out a beacon to the world's "tired, poor, huddled masses"? Do we welcome immigrants in because of or despite their economic impact on the United States?