Immigration Reading Guide Essay

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Shmoop’s Immigration Big Picture 1. How did Emma Lazarus's poem transform the Statue of Liberty's meaning? Lazarus transformed the Statue of Liberty—built by the French to commemorate shared Franco-American ideals of democracy—into a beacon of hope for foreigners seeking a better life in the United States. 2. What is nativism? citizens who fear that large influxes of foreigners will corrupt American culture, undermine American democracy, and impoverish American workers. 3. How does Thomas Bailey Aldrich's poem "Unguarded Gates" represent a strain of American thought? Aldrich's poem may strike modern readers as embarrassingly xenophobic, if not downright racist. But "Unguarded Gates" represents a strain of American thought on immigration with roots every bit as deep as the open-door ideals of "The New Colossus." 4. What are some examples of nativist thought in America prior to 1882? Benjamin Franklin worried that heavy German immigration into Pennsylvania would leave the English colonists there unable to preserve their language or government. In the early years of the American Republic, the Federalist Party of George Washington and John Adams passed the draconian Alien and Sedition Acts in order to limit immigrants' potentially destabilizing influence in American politics. For a brief moment in the 1850s, it seemed likely that anti-immigrant Know-Nothings, rather than antislavery Republicans, would become the Democrats' main rivals within America's two-party political system. The anti-immigrant politics of nativism have always been a potent force in American life. 5. What principle was established by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882? But the Chinese Exclusion Act established a general principle—"undesirable" classes of immigrants could and should be prevented from entering the United States or gaining American citizenship—that quickly spread far beyond
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