The story of America is well-told – people fleeing brutal regimes and religious persecution, famine and poverty, lack of opportunity have found a new home here since 1607.
Long after the Puritans and Pilgrims, came Vietnamese “boat people.” Irish fleeing famine. Russians and Jews escaping pogroms. Greeks and Italians desperate for jobs. German craftsmen hoping to find work. Scandinavian farmers dreaming of owning their own land.
Despite coming from many different countries, they had something in common – to them, America was a land of freedom.
They entered the United States at Ellis Island and in San Francisco and found their way inland to work on railroads, farm in Minnesota, mine and tend sheep in Colorado, work in textile mills, as indentured servants, maids, and laborers.
These immigrants built strong communities, even as they learned English, sent their children to school, opened businesses, served in the military and became citizens.
They became Americans while honoring their heritage and culture – as anyone who has lunched at a deli, enjoyed baklava at a Greek restaurant, or celebrated Chinese New Year can attest.
Now, an analysis of government data by the Center for Immigration Studies has definitively shown the stark difference between the long tradition of immigration Americans knew for two centuries and the reality of today’s huge, unregulated flood across our border.
In 1970, 13.5 million immigrants and their minor children represented 1 in 15 residents, or less than 7 percent of the population of the U.S.
Today, more than 60 million represent nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population.
The change can best be seen in the change in state populations – in 1970, no state had more than a 15 percent immigrant population; today, 16 states exceed that, some by a large number.
The immigrant population in Texas has grown over 1,000 percent since 1970; North Carolina 3,000 percent, and George over 3,000 percent.
In fact, six states have more than a quarter of their population made up of immigrants, including Florida, Illinois, Nevada and New York; California’s population is 37 percent immigrant.
It may be a politically inconvenient truth, but immigrants coming to America in 2016 show little interest in becoming Americans, requiring accommodations to meet their religious and cultural rules, with some seeking to supplant the American justice system with one antithetical to the ideal of equality that lies at the heart of what it means to be American.