After much effort and planning, my father emigrated from Norway to the United States in the early 1920s. He first had to arrange a sponsor, then get a written guarantee of a job, save money so that he would not be a burden on the government, show that he had a place to live when he arrived and finally, upon entry, go through a physical exam to show that he was not bringing with him any communicative disease(s). He told me he never thought that these requirements were burdensome, wrong or illegal; they were good, common sense requirements to protect both the United States and him.
He spoke little English, but those he lived with and worked with immediately began teaching him English and he enrolled in Citizenship Classes to prepare him for the Citizenship Exam. He...and all who attended those classes with him...came to America to become "Americans." He honored his birth country, Norway, and taught me to do the same...but he emphasized that he hadn't come to America to make America into a "little Norway,"...he had come to become a true "American." He wanted to, and believed in, assimilation. He and all the other immigrants that he came to know were anxious to become a part of the the miracle that was the United States of America...a country where one found the freedom to try to succeed in ways not available to him in Europe...and understood that that freedom came with the possibility of consequences of failure, too. That was the trade-off: freedom to strive came with no guarantees other than the right to "try." And he found that if you failed, you had the opportunity to try again. And he did.
Dad loved visiting Norway in later years, and being with old friends and acquaintances...but he never failed to exhibit a sigh of relief when he came home again to America and say, "it's so good to be home again"...he was an "American." Not a "Norwegian-American." And he was both proud and thankful for that.
As I was going through school I was surrounded by kids also born to immigrants...from many different countries. We got to know and appreciate each other and each other's national backgrounds...but always there was the attitude that those backgrounds were nice, they were part of "us"...but they were incidental; we were Americans. We appreciated and we abided by the rules and the laws of America...and expected everyone to do the same. Those who broke the laws and the rules were outcasts...not by any command or written edict, but automatically by their disregard and disrespect for the essence of "America."
Sadly, my observations reveal that this "America" has largely disappeared and is well on its way to extinction. First, I see multitudes (particularly in the Southwest) who have not come here "by the rules" or legally. Second, I see many groups refusing to assimilate, keeping to groups from their country of origin continuing to speak the language of their country of origin and refusing to even make believe they are trying to learn English. Third, a majority of today's immigrants still hold allegiance to their country of origin and not to the United States of America...and attempt to make America into a "mini" version of their country of origin, even to the point of disrespecting the American Flag and flying the flag of their birth country.
Most importantly, I see the Federal Government of the United States of America actually supporting these activities, aiding and abetting this lack of assimilation. And the result is that the United States of America has become increasingly "Balcanized." As Europe originally did in areas of the Caribbean and South America, areas of the United States now seem less like America and more like small versions of other foreign countries...America has disappeared.
The Federal Government no longer truly protects our borders or control who comes to America...and then takes action against border states that attempt to fill the need for that protection and control, leaving the citizens of those states unprotected and at risk. Add to that the actions of some major cities that put the welfare of those who surreptitiously and illegally cross into this country above that of lawful citizens. Arguably, those elected officials in those cities are in abdication of their oaths of Office...but neither the citizens of those cities or the Federal Government seems to care...at least not enough to demand that that be stopped.
America is losing its identity...and amazingly a great number of our citizens do not seem to mind or care. Thankfully, my father has passed away...otherwise these actions would insure his dying of embarrassment for the country he adopted as his own and loved more than where he was born. And I am embarrassed for my country's abdication of its character.