American Immigration

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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American immigration has been the lifeblood of this country. From its beginnings as settlements and colonies, to its independence as a standard-bearer for those who cherish freedom, this republic has built itself and transformed itself through its immigrants. Although the forced migration of Africans to this country is infamous, many millions of persecuted, poverty-stricken people felt forced to leave their homeland to avoid starvation, disease, and death.

The vast expanses of the United States welcomed them, if only because it offered a certain anonymity simply because of its concentrated population centers in the East, and its open range to the West. Their cheap labor built the railroads across the West, stoked the steel mills in the East, and sustained the agrarian economy in the South. From such humble--and sometimes cruel--starting points, immigrants rose to create one nation out of many nationalities.

American Immigration Today

Americans have been said by those on other continents to feel invulnerable because we have not had a foreign war fought on our soil. If so, the attacks on September 11, 2001, began to change that feeling. As shown by the stringent measures put in place to heighten security, the United States feels forced to increase measures to keep out would-be terrorists. How to do this without unduly impinging on civil liberties is being debated.

One of the new regulations, for example, is the registration by 2005 of all the approximately 35 million annual visitors to this country. An overwhelming task, this requirement is being phased in as staff and budgets permit the increased strictures on American immigration. By 2005, all visitors must have biometric identifiers in their travel documents in addition to photo identification. Anyone planning a trip to the United States should check immigration policies to get up-to-date information about American immigration regulations.

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