The United States is often called a “nation of immigrants” – but what does that mean?
Unless you are among the 0.9% of people whose ethnicity is Native American alone, your family came to the U.S. as foreigners at some point in history.
The first wave of immigration took place in the 18th century as people from around the world arrived on American shores for a variety of religious, political and economic reasons.
In 1892, Ellis Island opened the country’s doors to more than 12 million foreigners who would arrive over the next 60 years.
In more recent years, families escaping gang violence from Central America have been crossing illegally into the country through the Mexican border.
As of 2011, the country’s population of immigrants was 40.4 million – 13% of the total population. Of those 40.4 million, 11.1 million are unauthorized immigrants who entered U.S. territory illegally.
Attitudes toward illegal immigrants are splitting the country. Some believe it unfair that undocumented workers are not having to pay taxes. Others believe these immigrants are hard workers who are not being given a clear enough path to becoming legal citizens.
However, according to a recent poll, most Americans agree that the government should not attempt to deport people currently living illegally in the United States.
Lately, the topic of immigration has gained attention through President Donald Trump’s plans to build a border wall, which he spoke about in Alabama on Friday.
The conversation on immigration is neither old nor is it close to being over – it simply takes different forms as history progresses.