Today, immigration is such a convoluted issue, because it is often seen through emotional, agenda-biased glasses. People either want to get into America for the opportunities available, bring in loved ones to join them, or for the protections it offers. In the process, what has become a crisis at our southern border also is slowly erasing the very protections many seek because they’ve helped create an infrastructure ripe for nefarious use (e.g. terrorists and criminals entering our country).
However, if people removed their emotional glasses and looked at some facts, they would see common sense behind the policies and security needed for any country to survive and prosper.
Merit-based immigration used to be a global policy in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with few exceptions. Countries understood that, like a home, they needed to know who wanted entry and why, and if allowed, that they would not become a burden. The government’s job was to protect its citizens, first and foremost. If someone wanted access, they needed to bring something to the table: a skill, education, the ability to provide for himself or herself and be able to communicate and assimilate. To be granted access was not a right of anyone, except a citizen; it’s a privilege granted carefully.
Canada, New Zealand and Australia still have this system in place. The countries that have moved away from it, well, we see the issues of sovereignty they suffer today, and America is on that slippery slope today. We need to return to the merit-based system.
Early American Immigration
1880 until 1920 was known as the first Great Wave of immigration. America was booming and needed laborers. The population was 76 million in 1900 and approximately 600K immigrants were granted access annually. In today’s numbers that would be the equivalent of 2.5 million a year, since today we have a population of 329 million, according to www.uspopulation2019.com. While, today, we have an estimated 1.5 million immigrants annually (one million legally, 500K illegally), according to http://www.immigrationeis.org/about-ieis/us-immigration-history.
Even though we allowed almost double the number of immigrants annually, per capita, we weathered it well because it was controlled, and merit-based. Today, we have little control and a porous border. The strain on our resources, law enforcement, communities, and welfare and healthcare are overwhelming the systems created to take care of our citizens and legal migrants.
In the 1920s, the United States saw this could happen, albeit with different circumstances, and prevented it by stopping immigration for 40 years.
1924 through 1965
America found itself with a population boom that needed time to assimilate, to become Americans. In order to facilitate this, for all intents and purposes, immigration stopped.
While approximately 200K were allowed in annually ( a small controlled quota), with the population standing at 106 million by then, entry was based on the needs of America and who could fill them. A stricter merit-based system was implemented. This led to an economic boom that benefited the world and made America the richest nation on the planet, with some of the greatest inventions coming from the United States.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965: The Beginning of Chain Migration
America changed its policy from merit-based to a system allotting immigration slots as a proportion of total world population (according to https://www.history.com/topics/immigration/u-s-immigration-before-1965). Merit-based quotas were removed, and people could start petitioning for family members. It was the beginning of chain migration and the second Great Wave.
As with most things the government does, there are unintended consequences. What started as a policy for reunifying families turned out to become (in many cases, not all) a huge welfare handout to non-citizens.
The Political Winds Have Changed
Today, with the socialist views of the left being romanticized by a younger generation who does not appreciate the exceptionalism of America, nor understands or knows about the untold suffering socialism and communism has wrought on the world (another issue that needs to be addressed – education); our flawed immigration system has become the fuel to feed this failed ideology that threatens our freedoms, prosperity, and sovereignty.
As a nation, we need to look at our past, learn from its mistakes and remember the successes. America is only as great as its laws are upheld, its borders are secured, and its freedoms and rights are protected. Like any nation, or more closely to home, anyone’s house, if you don’t know who enters and what they bring the table, it’s only a matter of time before it implodes.