Editorial: Immigration and the U.S.

July 13, 2003

Source: Guardian


On July 13, 2003 the Guardian printed an editorial by Gary Younge stating that "The US, however, thrives on an altogether more optimistic view of immigration into which the recent treatment of immigrants fits less easily - the notion not only that it is the home of successive generations of immigrants but the model for successful immigration itself. It is an image that goes back to the Mayflower carrying asylum seekers in search of a land where they could practise their religion, and stands high atop the nation's most coveted symbol, the Statue of Liberty, laying down its challenge to the rest of the world: 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...' Immigration in America concerns not just the continuous arrival of new people to its shores, but the constant presence of dominant cultural myths within its borders. It is central to the notions of personal reinvention, economic meritocracy, ethnic diversity and class fluidity that lie at the core of the American dream... But if the current treatment of Muslim immigrants contradicts the mythology of American immigration through the ages, it confirms the reality. For the debate in the US has rarely been about whether immigration itself is good or bad, but whether certain immigrants at certain times are good or bad. The context has chosen different immigrants for different reasons at different times - but the essential theme has always remained the same."