American Melting Pot No Longer Hot Enough

June 24, 2013 08:15
American Melting Pot No Longer Hot Enough

The proliferation of federal entitlements programs, inadequate monitoring of temporary visas, an open southern border with Mexico, lack of voter IDs, and a progressive government with a liberal agenda, has brought us to the immigration reform panic we face today. The U.S. has not proven to be up to the financial and cultural task of integrating so many new people.


By Jack Beavers


The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Good-News-Art-F1-270x100Harbor was dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tablet upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. The statue is an icon of freedom: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad via Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 until 1954.

In 1903, the poem by Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”, was engraved on the bronze plague that is mounted inside the lower level of the Statue of Liberty. The words most remembered from the engraving are:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

However, the words in the sentence introducing the most remembered words are: “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”

Thus Lazarus’ poem describes the immigrants as willing to throw off the past and become Americans in a new culture that promises the individual rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence (1776)

While Lazarus’ poem describes the condition of the immigrants seeking American citizenship, it was J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur who first profiled the American immigrant. In his Letters from an American Farmer (1782) J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur introduced the concept of immigrants that “melt” into the American culture.

“He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.”

Subsequently, in 1875 a magazine article used the “melting” concept of America in an explicit metaphor.

“The fusing process … as in a blast-furnace … transforms … the emigrant into an American. Uniform institutions, ideas, language, the influence of the majority, bring us soon to a similar complexion; the individuality of the immigrant, almost even his traits of race and religion, fuse down in the democratic alembic like chips of brass thrown into the melting pot.”

Finally, the exact term “melting pot” came into general usage to profile America after it was used in a 1908 play as a metaphor describing a fusion of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities:

“Understand that America is God’s Crucible, the great melting_potMelting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, your fifty languages, and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won’t be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you’ve come to – these are fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American.”

In the beginning, America was viewed as God’s Crucible where all races were melted and reformed into Americans. However, this noble paradigm has changed in recent decades – partially as the result of the passage of The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (a.k.a the Hart-Celler Act).

The Hart-Celler Act abolished the national origins quota system that had been American immigration policy since the 1920s, replacing it with a preference system that focused on immigrants’ skills and family relationships with citizens or U.S. Residents, extending reach into a variety of countries, and expanding the quantity of immigrations approved. By the 1990s, America’s population growth was more than one-third driven by legal immigration and substantially augmented by an illegal immigration population – as opposed to one-tenth before the passage of the act.

The massive increase in immigrants has not been combined with a simultaneous effort to impart the fundamental American character to this multitude of new citizens. Without a strong, consistent American culture, the U.S. crucible was not large enough or hot enough to handle smoothly the addition of so many immigrants.

The Hart-Celler Act coupled with the proliferation of federal liberty swampedentitlements programs, inadequate monitoring of temporary visas, an open southern border with Mexico, lack of voter IDs, and a progressive government with a liberal agenda, has brought us to the immigration reform panic we face today. The U.S. has not proven to be up to the financial and cultural task of integrating so many new people. Fortunately there are a few who see this folly for what it is, and stand against plans of absolution (amnesty) for illegal immigrants:

“America is a nation of immigrants, built by immigrants and we need to honor that heritage by fixing our broken immigration system, while upholding the rule of law and championing legal immigration.” – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas

Illegal immigrants are not Americans – and the US Congress is not sanctioned to reward them for breaking our immigration laws. Instead, the duty of Congress is to oversee and ensure the enforcement of our existing laws. The United States certainly is a nation composed of immigrants, but it is also a nation with a precious heritage. We ought to encourage legal immigration and work to teach new immigrants what it means to call oneself an American.
Jack T. Beavers is an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Consultant with a BS in Chemical Engineering (BSChE), a Professional Engineering (PE) license, a Certification in Business Management (CBM), and a Certification as an Internal Control Specialist (CICS). He has previously held a Certification as an ISO-9000 Internal Auditor – and his work history includes Enterprise Risk Assessment responsibilities as a Manager of Internal Audit. Please email your comments to


The CJS Forum seeks to promote an open exchange of ideas about the relationship between faith, culture, law and public policy. While all the articles are original and written especially for the CJS Forum, they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for a Just Society.

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