Opinions Throughout History: Refugees & Asylum Seekers
The inscription on the Statue of Liberty reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” reflecting America’s role, during the golden age of immigration, as a refuge for those fleeing economic destitution, governmental oppression, and warfare. Over the centuries, the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers has been a controversial issue, and Americans are divided between the desire to lend humanitarian aid to those in need and the desire to withhold the benefits of American citizenship for the American born. Over the years, the political debate over America’s status as a refugee nation has also incorporated elements of race and racial prejudice as well as cultural xenophobia, and it has forced Americans to confront what characteristics are or should be considered part of America’s central ideology and identity. This volume of Opinions Throughout History looks at how our ideas about refugees and America’s status as an asylum country has changed over time.