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CHAPTER TWELVE Rethinking United States Immigration Policy, Diversity, and the Politics of Exclusion SETH N. ASUMAH AND MATTHEW TODD BRADLEY Introduction The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges. —George Washington Some uniculturalists worry about the current wave of immigration , thinking that today’s immigrants are too different from Americans. Uniculturalists fear that the immigrants will not adapt to American customs; as a consequence, the character of American society will be transformed in ways that are unfamiliar and incompatible to today’s residents. —John Isbister Immigration policy has long been controversial in the United States and has at times been used in openly racist ways. It has become even more controversial in the new century, as a plan proposed in Congress to both tighten border security and provide a path to citizenship for estimated 11–12 million undocumented aliens already present in the United States failed in 2007 amid opposition from both sides. . . . Afterwards, for the first time, the United States began to construct a fence along its border with Mexico to keep people out. —John E. Farley 253 254 Seth N. Asumah and Matthew Todd Bradley The discourse over the U.S. immigration policy in recent years like other “wedge” issues such as unemployment, racism, sexism, classism, and crime evoke cultural, racial, and socioeconomic disquietudes. Immigration issues, of late, have been made even more contentious with quasi-political parties and social movements like the Tea Party, and by state legislatures such as Alabama, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Moreover, since the 2008 election (and reelection in 2012) of U.S. President Barack Obama, the stakes have been raised even higher, with his calls for “level-headedness” and “fairness” in any discussions regarding immigration. Nonetheless, the 2012 Republican Party presidential primary debates were submerged in namecalling over U.S. immigration policy as Mitt Romney accused Newt Gingrich for labeling him as anti-immigrant and Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, lashed back at Romney, former Massachusetts governor, about running an advertisement in which Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” (Fox News Latino, 2012). Issues involving illegal Latino have topped the chart in those debates, yet a number of the Republican presidential candidates, including Newt Gingrich, had been too busy talking about voluntary deportation or what to do with 11 million undocumented grandmothers who may have lived in the United States all their lives—an important but not the most serious issue and perhaps, politicking with the topic by circumventing the most critical issues about U.S. immigration policy.. Thus, immigration issues have gained a centripetal position in policy debates because the number of foreign-born, non‑European persons has reached the highest level in the United States’ history. According to studies, the nation’s immigrant population, both legal and illegal, reached 37.9 in 2007, making it one in every eight United States citizens an immigrant (Center for Immigration Studies, 2007, pp. 1–2). Nonetheless the characterization of Black and Brown people from Latin America, Africa, and Asia as depriving United States citizens of jobs, and tainting the American national ethos, culture, and norms is at best unfounded and at worst a uniculturalist agenda against new sojourners and multiculturalists. It is indubitable that newer immigrants are coming to America in numbers that are only rivaled by that of the beginning of the twentieth century. It is also a truism that the immigrants who arrived in this country at the beginning of the century were overwhelmingly White Europeans, and now the majority of immigrants are non‑Whites, they are Black and Brown persons from mostly “developing ” countries. The new immigration wave is generating a backlash of antagonism for reasons that are racial, ethnic, cultural, political, and par- 255 Rethinking United States Immigration Policy tially economic. For all these reasons, indeed, there is an eminent need to re-examine the United States’ immigration and naturalization policies. Nevertheless, the urgency to re-evaluate these policies is submerged in an unclear debate between advocates of laissez entre (free entry) and those who support strict scrutiny in immigration policy. In the balance of this essay, we will argue that the immigration problem has not reached epidemic proportions yet, and the economic deprivation thesis is a façade developed by uniculturalists to reinvent the failed and unworkable “melting pot” idea in order to derail...


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