If Congress did not create the quota laws as a way to control who is allowed to enter the country, it would leave the magnificent “Golden Gates” open to anyone who wanted to enter the promise land. It is insane to even consider letting everyone of every ethnicity into the United States because the results would be devastating for the American society. American citizens often criticize that the quota laws discriminate towards different ethnic groups, but, in reality, it is common sense to prefer letting immigrants into the country that are more likely to “fit in” with the cultures being practiced already. Diversity is good and it is wonderful that the United States realizes this point. Congress allows a certain number of immigrants from each foreign nation to enter the United States.
The nations that contain more intellectually educated people are much more welcome in the United States because they are the people who will most likely benefit the society and economy. Having unskilled immigrants invade the United States leads to cheap labor and, therefore, the citizens already present in America will lose jobs. The Southern Railroad Company is an example of this. This particular railroad hired Chinese to help lay track but they were resented by whites because they accepted lower wages.
It is very logical for an employer to hire an immigrant who will work for low pay rather than a citizen who wants to earn more money. The quota laws helped prevent the whole idea of cheap labor in the United States. Although it did occur, without the quota laws present, the United States will soon find itself in complete poverty and distress. Another act that is often considered controversial is the Immigration Act of 1917. This act stated that all immigrants older than 16 of age had to demonstrate literacy in one language. It does not matter in which language the immigrant demonstrates this knowledge.
People such as Roosevelt felt strongly about these types of actions by Congress, “We have room in this country for but one flag, the Stars and Stripes..We have room for but one loyalty, loyalty to the United States.. We have room for but one language, the English language” (Day and Day 27). This act is just another way for Congress to try and improve the United States by allowing literate immigrants to enter rather than immigrants who are not extremely intelligent. Congress actually had sympathy for the many immigrants that wanted the opportunities of the United States. In 1903, the Pensionado Act was developed.
This act was significant because it allowed Filipino students the opportunity to study in the United States. The education in the United States is far more advanced than that of the Philippines. In 1900, Congress enacted the Foraker Act, which granted Puerto Rico a modicum of local government. Under these conditions, Puerto Ricans are nationals, not citizens, like contemporary Filipinos.
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act. This law gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship. The Jones Act separated the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of Puerto Rican government, provided civil rights to the individual, and created a locally elected bicameral legislature. The 2 houses were a Senate consisting of 19 members and a 39-member House of Representatives. However, the Governor and the President of the United States had the power to veto any law passed by the legislature.
Also, the United States Congress had the power to stop any action taken by the legislature in Puerto Rico. The U.S. maintained control over fiscal and economic matters and exercised authority over mail services, immigration, defense and other basic governmental matters. Under this act, all Puerto Ricans are declared citizens unless they formally reject that status.
Overall, the United States was very sympathetic for immigrants and granted them many rights that would allow them to excel in life. Although Congress is considered to be harsh with immigration laws, they truly do care about the immigrants but they also fear the results of too many immigrants in the United States. In 1924, Congress made all native-born American Indians citizens of the United States. This action by Congress is a huge step for the American Indian population because, in 1887, the Dawes Act was really the only hint that the Native Americans would have a part in the American society. The Dawes Act conferred citizenship on acculturated Indians not living on reservations, citizenship that many Western states and localities refused, in practice, to recognize. Therefore, the granted citizenship for Native Americans was a very important part of their hunt for equality.
In 1922, Congress passed the Cable Act which ended the discriminatory practice of the Expatriation Act of 1907 except for those female citizens who married “aliens ineligible to citizenship,” (Asian aliens.) The Cable Act was the more advanced form of an 1855 act that said residential alien women who married American citizens were automatically citizens. Simply for protection reasons for immigrants, the Alien Contract Labor Laws of 1885,1887,1888, and 1891 prohibited immigrants from entering the country to work under contracts made before their arrival. Despite criticism that Congress receives for many immigration laws, it is shown through these particular laws and practices just how willing Congress was to grant rights to different ethnic groups. The mixing of ethnic groups was considered a “melting pot.” “..America is Gods Crucible, the great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries, but you wont be long like that brothers, for these are the fires of God youve come to- these are the fires of God..
God is making the American.. the real American has not yet arrived. He is only in the crucible, I tell you- he will be the fusion of all the races, the coming superman” (Zangwill 37). Although many people accept the theory of a “melting pot”, some Americans still disagree with this system. “It is no solution for those who wish to participate in American life, and yet desire to retain their ethnic identity” (Jacobson 645).
Many people didnt grasp the concept that if conditions in a mother country are bad enough to want to immigrate into another country that a person is going to have to give in a little. In this case, giving up some of their culture to conform more to the American culture was just one sacrifice that was expected. The United States wants to help out different ethnic groups, but it is extremely difficult to help out each group on an individual basis and it is not logical to grant all immigrants the same rights because they come from different intellectual and cultural backgrounds with different interests and expectations. Congress developed many different ways to screen who can enter the United States.
These processes are very important in controlling the type of population that lives in the United States. In 1891, Congress created the Immigration and Naturalization Service, otherwise known as the INS. This service was developed to administer federal laws relating to the admission, exclusion, and deportation of aliens and the naturalization of aliens lawfully residing in the United States. The INS was required to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Contract Labor Law of 1885, and the Immigration Act of 1891.
In 1875, a law that prohibited entry of prostitutes and convicts established direct federal regulation of immigration. The government of the United States saw these types of people as a danger to the country. In 1892, the INS opened up an immigration screening station at Ellis Island in New York Harbor and claimed this to be the INS headquarters. Seeing Ellis Island was amazing for most immigrants: “I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time and it was the greatest thrill. It was a very clear, crisp day in February. And it was such a thrill that its hard to describe” (Coan 207).
More than 12,000,000 immigrants underwent immigration processing or detention at Ellis Island from January 1, 1892 until November 12, 1954. Congress is trying very hard to screen immigrants entering the United States so that only immigrants that can contribute positively will be allowed entrance by establishing an orderly method of deciding which immigrants could stay and which immigrants would not be allowed to remain in the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is an example of screening immigrants because it barred convicts, the insane, and the cognitively disabled from entering the United States. In 1893, the United States government made it a requirement that steamship companies had to record in manifests the vital statistics of all passengers aboard that particular ship.
Many people were involved with this technique of screening immigrants. An immigrant inspector was given the task of verifying the information on the manifest sheets and was given the power to change or simplify immigrant names. Many times the names of immigrants were either shortened or replaced with more “Americanized” names. This made it not only easier on the inspectors to identify different immigrants but it also made it easier for the immigrants to “fit in” with the people living in America.
Immigrants trying to enter the United States have to show their money to inspectors to prove that they are not paupers. As controversial as this issue seems to be, it is very logical for the government to want immigrants to have some money. As the immigrants venture out into the new lands, the United States hopes that they will be able to spend some money in America and help the nation to prosper. In 1906, knowledge of the English language was made a basic requirement for immigrants. Congress felt that if an immigrant was going to come to America, that it would be necessary for that person to know English so that survival in the New World would not be so difficult.
Legislation excluded all mentally disabled persons, paupers, and those who might become public charges. It excluded those suffering from a contagious disease, as well as those convicted of a felony, an egregious crime, or a misdemeanor involving a moral turpitude. Anarchists were added to the list of unacceptable aliens in 1903. In 1907, Congress passed a law excluding immigrants with physical disabilities or mental defects that might affect their ability to earn a living. The United States government was very concerned for these immigrants welfare and did not want to see them enter the country and end up in poverty.
The same law also barred those immigrants that had tuberculosis and children unaccompanied by their parents. After 1907, immigrants had to demonstrate their physical health during a thorough medical examination. In 1924, the Immigration Bureau made immigrants register with the government and gave them documents that described their legal status. The Immigration Bureau has been a part of the Department of Labor since 1913. This very important Immigration Bureau set up the Border Patrol which is made up of 400 recruits who are trained in law, investigation techniques, fingerprinting, jujitsu, the use of firearms, and tracking and trailing. These are all very important laws and practices established by the United States Congress as a way to deal with the tremendous number of people who crave immigration into America.
Each act is enacted for different reasons but in general, if Congress sits back and does nothing about this rush of immigrants to America, our nation will crumble and, not only will immigrants suffer, but also the citizens that have already gained their rights to be here will be devastated. It is not fair to do that to the American citizens. Although many immigrants find it to be discriminating towards their specific ethnic group, when analyzing the concept of screening, it is very plain to see why Congress has developed more laws. The United States government is not ignorant; they only want what is best for the nation. If keeping the American citizens secure with an economy of prosperity and a society of happiness is not considered fair, then justification for these acts and practices cannot be described.
A nation filled with thugs, prostitutes, and unskilled people benefits the country in no way and therefore the intelligent United States of America government use their power to create systems to help avoid this terrible future from occurring. Laws and practices established by the United States towards immigration during 1865 and 1930 are very fair despite the controversy and criticism that exists over this issue. Discrimination occurs with different ethnic groups but for those immigrants permitted into the country, the opportunity to excel in life is excellent. The laws and practices established to control immigration into the United States limited the amount of poverty that can be present in the country. Also, the nation’s government is looking out for the best interest of American citizens by not allowing unintelligent, unskilled, thugs into the country.
Without these important practices and laws created by the United States Congress “cheap” labor would overpower American citizen labor and lead the country to an economic and social breakdown. No question exists that the laws and practices established by the United States towards immigration do indeed discriminate certain ethnic groups but, in order for the country to maintain a stable and organized society, the actions of Congress are necessary. These practices and laws offer immigrants an opportunity to better their lives simply by walking through the “Golden Gates.” The Statue of Liberty extravagantly symbolizes hope for immigrants, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Lazarus 42).