THE AMERICAN IDENTITY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
For more than a century, an immigrant from France has stood vigil in the New York Harbor. At 350 feet tall, with a majestic spiked crown upon her head, a tablet of laws clutched in one hand and a torch held aloft in the other, the lady is hard to miss. She cries out to the world, “Give me your tired, your poor…I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Millions of immigrants have answered the Statue of Liberty’s call, passing over, under, or through the Golden Door to become Americans.
However, on the eve of its 250th birthday, the United States is in the middle of an identity crisis. Should this land of immigrants welcome outsiders, people hungry for opportunity and desperate for freedom? Or should the country shut its golden door, barring entry to all but a select few? What exactly does it mean to be an American? How citizens answer these questions in the early twenty-first century will determine the future of America’s identity.
Immigration Nation includes critical-thinking activities and research exercises to encourage readers ages 12-15 to explore the past, present, and future of immigration from the viewpoints of immigrants, citizens, and policy makers as they wrestle with what it means to be an American in the 21st century.
School Library Connections
“For students or teachers looking for an entry into the controversial topic of immigration, this book broaches the subject through the lens of history and sociology, individual stories of immigrants, the laws of the United States, and arguments on both sides of the issue. The book opens with a timeline spanning 1607 to 2045, with 2045 pinpointing the year when non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the majority ethnic group in the United States. . . This is a very interactive source on an issue about which people have extremely strong feelings. It would make for excellent supplemental material in social studies classes, as well as a great research resource for papers and speeches. Recommended”
“. . . the Inquire & Investigate Social Issues of the Twentieth Century series offers facts, historical perspective, and useful suggestions for young people studying key issues in America today. The writers encourage further study and thoughtful consideration of their books’ subjects, which have all seen shifts in political rhetoric and public perception over time. Besides presenting each topic, they challenge readers to engage in critical thinking and consider questions from various people’s points of view. The illustrations include many photos as well as cartoons. The books’ large format accommodates a good deal of information in the very readable main texts, while side margins carry related pictures, vocabulary features, and brief introductions to noteworthy figures and events. . . Immigration Nation looks at procedures and varied views on U.S. immigration today, as well as personal stories and statistics showing changes over time. Well organized information and practical help for students researching significant social issues.”