Is there anything in our history comparable to our current refugee situation? Yes, the year was 1798.
A bit of necessary background first–The French Revolution which began in 1789 reached its most radical and horrid stage with its Reign of Terror from 1792-5 which unleashed an exodus, many to the U.S. and others to Canada. As a two party system began to develop in this era, most of these refugees gravitated to the party of Jefferson and Madison which will impact our story. Continue reading How Did We React to Refugees in the Past?→
Our system of refugee resettlement is vastly different from Europe’s and very difficult for refugees to navigate. This video explains how the U.S. refugee resettlement process works. It would be the least likely way that a terrorist would be able to come here. Our greatest terrorist threat in the U.S. remains the lone wolf domestic terrorist.
Abraham Lincoln welcomed immigrants. He saw immigration as a solution to his manpower issues. His Act to Encourage Immigrants was a major factor in the Union victory in the Civil War. We competed with other nations for immigrants. The promotion of our “Streets Are Paved with Gold” national image led to one of the greatest influxes of immigration in world history.
Our victory in the Mexican American War added a huge amount of land to the U.S. and introduced issues of property rights and confiscation. This produced some of the consequences we see in our Southwest today. The Irish immigration following the potato famine led to longstanding issues in our immigration policies. Immigration also became a major factor leading to the Civil War.
From the beginning, our national debate about immigration has been extremely political. You might be surprised by some of the issues about illegal immigration on our border with Mexico and the first attempt to close the border to stop immigration. Here’s the story.