Classic Colonialism

Almost alone among the peoples of the world, the United States has largely been spared—at least until recently—the bitter conflicts that plague countries whose citizens do not share a common language. Since the early 17th century, immigrants from diverse backgrounds have settled here. In the past, it was understood that in exchange for enjoying opportunities for personal development and economic advancement and a measure of political equality unavailable elsewhere, newcomers would learn English, acquire a useful skill, and participate in community life by becoming citizens. That was what "Americanization" involved. This covenant between America and successive generations of immigrants worked pretty well as long as it was observed by both parties. But this unwritten compact has undergone a drastic revision since the 1960's.

In the wake of Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory in 1964 over Barry Goldwater, the Great Society Congress passed a new immigration act that departed from our previous policy of well-regulated entry. The "national origin" quotas that had been in effect since the early 1920's were eliminated. The 1965 act established a system emphasizing family ties over other considerations. Although proponents of the new law, such as its sponsor in the Senate, Ted Kennedy, claimed that the act would eliminate discrimination, what it actually accomplished—just as Senator Sam Ervin...

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