International Relations

Ronald Reagan's views on immigration

2019-04-17 09:58 #0 by: Niklas

This is an excerpt of Ronald Reagan’s last speech as president. It was held on January 19, 1989.

“This, I believe, is one of the most important sources of America's greatness. We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people -- our strength -- from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation. While other countries cling to the stale past, here in America we breathe life into dreams. We create the future, and the world follows us into tomorrow. Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation. If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”

”We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people -- our strength -- from every country and every corner of the world.”

That was 30 years ago. The world has changed a lot since the 1980s. The United States was unique for its diversity. Since then we got the internet with new cheap ways to communicate and cheaper travels across the globe. Other countries have become better at diversity. At the same time the US is becoming a more closed country where many foreigners are no longer welcome.

”If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”

How do you view the US today?

» Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Presidential Medal of Freedom | Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - National Archives and Records Administration

2019-04-19 21:45 #1 by: Leia

The US is taking steps rather than forward, its so sad to see. We can see it happening in the UK with brexit too Sad

All the best, Leia

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2019-05-15 14:03 #2 by: Evelina

Sadly, after studying the history of Latino migration in the Americas in relation to U.S. trade, immigration and foreign policy, over the past few weeks, I have to say that the Reagan administration wasn't that welcoming to all migrants. 

"It is estimated that between 1981 and 1990, almost one million Salvadorans and Guatemalans fled repression at home and made the dangerous journey across Mexico, entering the United States clandestinely. Thousands traveled undetected to major cities such as Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Chicago. However, thousands were also detained at or near the Mexico-U.S. border.

The Reagan administration regarded policy toward Central American migrants as part of its overall strategy in the region. Congress had imposed a ban on foreign assistance to governments that committed gross violations of human rights, thus compelling the administration to deny Salvadoran and Guatemalan government complicity in atrocities. Immigration law allowed the attorney general and INS officials wide discretion regarding bond, work authorization, and conditions of detention for asylum seekers, while immigration judges received individual "opinion letters" from the State Department regarding each asylum application. Thus the administration's foreign policy strongly influenced asylum decisions for Central Americans.

Characterizing the Salvadorans and Guatemalans as "economic migrants," the Reagan administration denied that the Salvadoran and Guatemalan governments had violated human rights. As a result, approval rates for Salvadoran and Guatemalan asylum cases were under three percent in 1984. In the same year, the approval rate for Iranians was 60 percent, 40 percent for Afghans fleeing the Soviet invasion, and 32 percent for Poles.

The Justice Department and INS actively discouraged Salvadorans and Guatemalans from applying for political asylum. Salvadorans and Guatemalans arrested near the Mexico-U.S. border were herded into crowded detention centers and pressured to agree to "voluntarily return" to their countries of origin. Thousands were deported without ever having the opportunity to receive legal advice or be informed of the possibility of applying for refugee status. Considering the widely reported human rights violations in El Salvador and Guatemala, the treatment of these migrants constituted a violation of U.S. obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

As word of the conditions in Central America and the plight of the refugees began to come to public attention in the early 1980s, three sectors began to work in opposition to the de facto "no asylum" policy: the religious sector, attorneys, and the refugees themselves.

Although a number of Congressmen and women were influenced by the position of religious organizations, the administration thwarted their efforts. In 1983, 89 members of Congress requested that the attorney general and Department of State grant "Extended Voluntary Departure" to Salvadorans who had fled the war. The administration denied their request, stating such a grant would only serve as a "magnet" for more unauthorized Salvadorans in addition to the hundreds of thousands already present. In the late 1980s, the House of Representatives passed several bills to suspend the deportation of Salvadorans, but none passed the Senate." - Central Americans and the Reagan Asylum Policy in the Reagan Era by Susan Gzesh, 2006 at the Migration Policy Institute 

2019-05-15 14:28 #3 by: Niklas

That is sad. I seem that it is always easier to talk about everything good about immigration historically than when it is happening.

2019-05-15 14:35 #4 by: Evelina

Exactly. Past immigrants groups largely from Europe are looked upon now with great views. Whereas today's large immigrant group's are looked upon negatively.  It is a widely studied phenomenon in migration studies, actually which seeks to reveal that past immigrant groups even European ones were viewed as a threat as well. Such as the Poles in Germany and the Italians in France. There is a book called the Immigrant Threat that we read for our course. 

2019-05-15 14:45 #5 by: Niklas

Yep, in twenty years we will talk with praise about Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who came here and saved our pension system with their labor.

2019-05-15 15:12 #6 by: Evelina

#6 Yep, I totally agree!