America Needs More Immigrants?

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America Needs More Immigrants

After political security, there is nothing that the Republic needs so much as bone and sinew, for the development of its vast resources . . . we want flesh and blood, men, women, and children, to assist in fulfilling that intention.

—Editorial from the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, published in August 12, 1865—as the re-United States reels back from the divisiveness of the Civil War (Abbott 156)

When my ancestors came to the U.S. in the 1800s to help build the transcontinental railroad (enabling intracontinental commerce on an unprecedented scale), it was very true that immigrants contributed to America’s economic prosperity. Does this remain true today? Today is a very different time than the aftermath of the Civil War. Or is it? Now, the U.S. is also reeling back from wars, albeit of very different sorts: the Cold War and the latest series of riots in the cities. The U.S. is turning inwards, wanting to rebuild its infrastructure and inner cities. Pre-eminence in various scientific areas and the education of its citizens, who are, by world standards, lagging educationally, are again prime national goals—much as they were following the Civil War. Skills and labor are needed. Although not as powerfully delineated as in a North-South segregation, the American population is still bitterly divided over many issues—one of which is immigration.

Would immigration aggravate our problems, especially unemployment and social tension, or

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