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Ellis Island, Illegal Aliens and the Pathway to Citizenship

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?Give a brief narrative regarding a few important American immigration policies from the 20th century.
?Who were the "new immigrants" in the early 1900s?
?What challenges did they face?
?What is the significance of Ellis Island?
?What did the Immigration Act of 1924 do, and how did that differ from the Immigration Act of 1965?
?What are your opinions regarding the present debate surrounding undocumented workers and illegal aliens?
?Should there be, as the current phrasing is discussed, a "pathway to citizenship"?
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Solution Summary

Qzestions on US history and citizenship (see above) are discussed and explored.

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OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Issues in US Immigration & Citizenship

What is citizenship? Simply put, it is the status of a person, a legal indication and attribute of belonging to a particular nation that has a set of rights, duties, responsibilities and benefits attached to it. Citizenship is a matter of being a legally recognized citizen of a state and in the US, it is a marker of the benefits and rights one has. First off, it designates the right to live and work in the US and its territories, and what one can expect in terms of support and services from the state and the federal government. Citizenship however carries its own set of duties and responsibilities, the least of which is being subject to and bound with the rules of society and government, in particular what is laid out via the legalities of the US Constitution. So, how does one become a citizen of a country? One has to be born by parents whose nationality/citizenship is American where both or one of them is American, and via the 'citizenship clause' in the 14th Amendment, as long as one had been born within US soil, one can claim citizenship even if either parent aren't American. Another path provided by this clause is the path of naturalization. Becoming a naturalized American means fulfilling certain rules and regulations laid out by legislation. In the US this requires that one has to have lived within the US legally and rightfully for a period of years as well as a ceremony of 'oath-taking' by which the person takes the oath of citizenship in upholding the laws of the US, giving value to citizenship and nationhood. US citizenship means so much for peoples seeking economic and political relief from their 'home-nations' were political, social and economic instability had sought them to look for greener pastures in the West. Political refugees, economic migrants flock to American shores without ceasing, making immigration one of the bigger political issues faced by state and federal government. But Immigration is not a new social phenomenon. The United States that we know today is a nation of immigrants that had its roots in the British Colonies of the 1700's. The US is seen as a melting pot of peoples and cultures, predominantly European but one where multiculturalism is an inherent attribute. If the US is a nation made out of immigrants, why then is immigration a huge issue? Before answering this, let us first look into 20th Century US Immigration Policies.

In the 19th century, immigration to the US was encouraged. Manpower and labour was needed to fuel industrialization. The only bias was taken against Asians, most notably the Chinese as was shown in 1882's Chinese Exclusion Act. The 20th century however saw Americans take issue with what they saw as 'problematic newcomers'. What came to be was an anti-immigration stance that focused on keeping out the 'undesirables' and this was made into law via the Immigration Act of 1917. Starkweather (2011), summarizes,

"The 1917 Immigration Act, also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, was a law passed by ...

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