June 13, 1986

Report Outline
American Ambivalence
To The New World
The Economic Effects
Special Focus

American Ambivalence

Few symbols have a meaning to the American people as profound as that of the Statue of Liberty. For generations, the colossus of New York harbor has stood as the enduring image of this country's willingness to open its doors to newcomers seeking a better life. The celebrations surrounding the 100th anniversary and restoration of the statue, to be held over the Fourth of July weekend, will be a paean to the 50 million immigrants who have arrived since 1820, and the immense contribution they have made to building a nation.

Yet, as Americans watch the New York celebrations on national television, many may discover other, more troubling images lurking in the back of their minds. They may remember photographs, taken through telescopic lenses, in which groups of people move quietly through the desert, illegally crossing the invisible border that separates the United States from the poverty-stricken lands to the south. Or they may recall that the local dry cleaner or convenience store is now owned by a recent Asian immigrant, who gives members of his large family jobs that once went to native-born Americans.

The restoration of the Statue of Liberty comes in the middle of the second-largest wave of immigration in American history. Last year, nearly 650,000 people were legally admitted as immigrants or refugees to the United States, If, as some experts believe, illegal immigration is adding up to 500,000 persons a year, total immigration may be at levels approaching or exceeding the historic highs reached in the first two decades of this century. According to the Census Bureau, the foreign-born are by far the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population—the 14.1 million immigrants living here in 1980 reflected a 46 percent increase in numbers since 1970.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Immigration and Naturalization
Mar. 19, 2021  Immigration Overhaul
Feb. 24, 2017  Immigrants and the Economy
Sep. 02, 2016  U.S.-Mexico Relations
Oct. 23, 2015  Immigrant Detention
Sep. 27, 2013  Border Security
Mar. 09, 2012  Immigration Conflict
Dec. 2010  Europe's Immigration Turmoil
Sep. 19, 2008  America's Border Fence
Feb. 01, 2008  Immigration Debate Updated
May 04, 2007  Real ID
May 06, 2005  Illegal Immigration
Jul. 14, 2000  Debate Over Immigration
Jan. 24, 1997  The New Immigrants
Feb. 03, 1995  Cracking Down on Immigration
Sep. 24, 1993  Immigration Reform
Apr. 24, 1992  Illegal Immigration
Jun. 13, 1986  Immigration
Dec. 10, 1976  Illegal Immigration
Dec. 13, 1974  The New Immigration
Feb. 12, 1964  Immigration Policy Revision
Feb. 06, 1957  Immigration Policy
Nov. 27, 1951  Emigration from Europe
Feb. 09, 1945  Immigration to Palestine
Sep. 30, 1940  Forced Migrations
Apr. 18, 1939  Immigration and Deportation
Jul. 27, 1931  Deportation of Aliens
Mar. 12, 1929  The National-Origin Immigration Plan
Aug. 19, 1927  Immigration from Canada and Latin America
Nov. 01, 1926  Quota Control and the National Origin System
Jul. 12, 1924  Immigration and its Relation to Political and Economic Theories and Party Affiliation
Immigration and Naturalization
Welfare and Welfare Reform