Borderlands & Immigrants - Borderlands and Immigrants...

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Borderlands and Immigrants By George Friedman The United States has returned to its recurring debate over immigration. This edition of the debate, focused intensely on the question of illegal immigration from Mexico, is phrased in a very traditional way. One side argues that illegal migration from Mexico threatens both American economic interests and security. The other side argues that the United States historically has thrived on immigration, and that this wave of migration is no different. As is frequently the case, the policy debate fails to take fundamental geopolitical realities into account. To begin with, it is absolutely true that the United States has always been an immigrant society. Even the first settlers in the United States -- the American Indian tribes -- were migrants. Certainly, since the first settlements were established, successive waves of immigration have both driven the American economy and terrified those who were already living in the country. When the Scots-Irish began arriving in the late 1700s, the English settlers of all social classes thought that their arrival would place enormous pressure on existing economic processes, as well as bring crime and immorality to the United States. The Scots-Irish were dramatically different culturally, and their arrival certainly generated stress. However, they proved crucial for populating the continent west of the Alleghenies. The Scots-Irish solved a demographic problem that was at the core of the United States: Given its population at that time, there simply were not enough Americans to expand settlements west of the mountains -- and this posed a security threat. If the U.S. population remained clustered in a long, thin line along the Atlantic sea board, with poor lines of communication running north-south, the country would be vulnerable to European, and especially British, attack. The United States had to expand westward, and it lacked the population to do so. The Americans needed the Scots-Irish. Successive waves of immigrants came to the United States over the next 200 years. In each case, they came looking for economic opportunity. In each case, there was massive anxiety that the arrival of these migrants would crowd the job market, driving down wages, and that the heterogeneous cultures would create massive social stress. The Irish immigration of the 1840s, the migrations from eastern and southern Europe in the 1880s -- all triggered the same concerns. Nevertheless, without those waves of immigration, the United States would not have been able to populate the continent, to industrialize or to field the mass armies of the 20th century that established the nation as a global power. Population Density and Economic Returns:
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course COM 1053 taught by Professor Davis during the Spring '08 term at The University of Texas at San Antonio- San Antonio.

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Borderlands & Immigrants - Borderlands and Immigrants...

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