Richard D. Lamm, We Must Come to Grips with Immigration

The following comment by Richard D. Lamm, the Democratic governor of Colorado, expresses a view of immigration quite different from that of Emma Lazarus. Today, about 100 years later, the U.S.A. sees itself confronted with increasing numbers of legal and illegal immigrants.

Abraham Lincoln put it well: "As our case is new, so we must think and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves." Few issues facing the United States are as important as the question of immigration, and on no other issue are Americans so blinded by past myths.
As children and grandchildren of immigrants, we have made immigration such a part of our mythology and folklore that it is immensely difficult to come to grips with the new realities. But history plays strange tricks on civilizations: Yesterday's solutions become today's problems.
Once the United States needed immigrants to people an empty continent. The myth lingers on, but those days are gone,never to return. Frontier America is gone, replaced by an America of 7.6 percent unemployment, with appallingly high unemployment among youth who are minority group members. Increasingly scarce resources, severe economic problems and the U. S. social fabric demand a rational immigration policy.
Immigration is already at the highest level in U. S. history: 808,000 legal immigrants in 1990, including the special status given to Cubans and Haitians. That is twice the number of immigrants accepted by all the rest of the world.
In addition to these legal immigrants, illegal immigration is at a high, non-quantifiable level. We do know that we had more than 1 million apprehensions of illegal immigrants in the last few years - 10 times the level in the early 1960s. It is not usually recognized, but most immigrants came not in 1911 or 1893 but in 1980. Legal and illegal immigration accounts for half the U.S. population growth rate and a rising percentage of crime.
Whatever the pressures now, they will soon grow dramatically worse. The population of Mexico has nearly tripled since 1945 and is expected to double in the next 20 years. Mexico has a 1abor force of 19 million people, half of them unemployed or seriously underemployed. Considering the great discrepancy in per capita income, the northward pull is tremendous.
We have to get our hearts in line with our heads and our myths in line with reality. We know we cannot accept all the people who want to come to to the United States. We know our immigration policy has to be designed in the U.S. interest.
We hate to say no to that worthy individual from the poverty-stricken country who just wants to do a little better. It seems selfish to set limits. The lady in the harbor would not understand. I believe, though, that dramatic reform is necessary and inevitable, and that the sooner we recognize this, the better off we will be.
Every year the United States imports a new poverty class. America owes its first duty to its own disadvantaged, unemployed and poor to maintain the strength of the United States. We can only meet our commitments by placing realistic limits on immigration.
The lady in the harbor symbolizes liberty, not immigration. It is time that we disenthralled ourselves.

disenthrall oneself (AE) = (BE) disenthral oneself (fml. ): give up false though fascinating beliefs
come to grips with sth.: begin to deal seriously with sth.
fabric: structure
special status given to Cubans and Haitians,: Sonderstatus der Kubaner und Haitianer, der vorübergehend die ansonsten üblichen Einwanderungsbeschränkungen, insbesondere die jährlich festgesetzten Einwanderungsquoten aufhob
per capita:for easch person
meet ones commitmerlt: do what one has a responsibility to do

Understanding the contents
1. What, according to Lamm, are the "new realities" of immigration?
2. What reasons for illegal immigration from Latin America are mentioned in the text?
3. a) Who is the "lady in the harbor" ?
b) Why do many Americans believe she would not understand if the U.S.A. set stricter limits on immigration?
4. What does the writer mean when he refers to America's "commitments"?

Analysing the text
5. What is the purpose of the quotation at the beginning of the text?

6. Why does Lamm present so many statistics in the middle section of his comment?
7. a) To which text type* does this comment belong?
b) Find some of the structural elements in this comment that are typical of this text type.
8. Identify at least two stylistic devices in the text supporting the writer's intention.

Working with the language
9. a) Make a list of all the expressions in the fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs referring to numbers and quantities.
b) Translate these paragraphs into German.
10. Explain the use of the adjectives in paragraph 8.

Going beyond the text
11. The classic metaphor* of the U.S.A. as an ethnic "melting pot" has long been replaced by the idea of a "salad bowl" or "rainbow". What do the different terms imply?
12. What other myths about the U.S.A. can you think of? What purposes do such myths serve?
13. The discussion of immigration policy in Switzerland is not totally unlike that in the United States. Collect arguments for and against restrictions and prepare a discussion or debate.