Opinion: America no longer the great melting pot?

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There is an interesting trend overtaking nations across the world when it comes to foreign policy and immigration laws. While America has decreased its immigration flow, other countries across the world have increased the number of people they receive.

Since the founding of our nation, the United States has proudly been known as the great melting pot. If you ask someone what their ancestry is in the United States, you will get answers ranging from China to Latin America.

When I started to travel abroad I was surprised to find that the United States was not unique in its melting pot ideology. It made sense to me that a country like Israel would have a large amount of immigrants with its vast cultural history. However, I was surprised to find that a country like Ukraine has many immigrants from all over the world, even some surprisingly from Latin America.

Over the past decade other countries across the world have been transforming themselves into immigrant societies. While America has in the past prided itself on being an immigrant nation, it is no longer the exception. Both Canada and Australia have a higher percentage of foreign-born people compared to the United States.

Due to our closed-border policies, it has become increasingly hard for foreigners to gain citizenship or a visa for entrance into the United States.

This trend is affecting everything from jobs to missionary service in the Church. Towards the end of my time in the Missionary Training Center, we had a group of native Russians come in for their regular four-week training cycle before they were sent to their perspective missions. While this is a regular occurrence at the MTC, there was one difference with this group. One of the sister missionaries was not able to make it into the country due to her guest visa being denied. As a result, her assigned companion was left without a companion and then re-assigned to my companion and me for her four weeks in America. This situation turned out to be a bit complicated, as she spoke little to no English, and we spoke little to no Russian.

Recently I learned that due to the increasing complications with visas, and the limited space at the Provo Missionary Training Center, all Russian native missionaries have been moved to the Spain MTC, since it is easier to get a visa into that country.

While I understand the need to regulate the laws surrounding immigration in the United States, I sometimes wonder if we have gone a bit too far. Are our increasingly closed border polices a detriment to America or are they helping us to grow?

Growing up I lived in a town that was just under 40 percent Latino; granted, many of this Latino population were illegal immigrants because they could not get citizenship in the United States. In Wenatchee, Wash., my hometown, a large portion of our jobs come from orchard workers picking the generous amount of fruit surrounding the great Wenatchee area. Many of these workers are Latino legal or illegal immigrants from Mexico that have come to the area to try and build a better life for their families.

The fruit industry in Washington depends upon these workers. Without them, who would be taking the manual labor jobs that others refuse to take?

Other countries take in foreign immigrants based on skills in order to boost their economy. In many European countries, due to the training of foreign immigrants, they have been able to increase their economy through hiring people with doctoral training in science-related fields.

I was surprised to hear a report the other day that foreign students in the United States receive at least half of the doctoral degrees in science-related fields, and then almost all of them head back to their native countries after graduation.

Are we doing ourselves a disservice by training these foreigners and then sending them back home to competing countries once they finish their degrees? I’m not sure I have a clear answer to this question, but I do know that through my travels abroad I have seen other countries willing accept immigrants and by doing so increase their economic growth.

One of the main topics on people’s minds right now when it comes to the United States is our economy. With how much the United States is struggling right now, I think it is important to look at issues such as immigration in order to decide whether or not our policies are hindering or helping our economic growth. Only through this growth can we continue to be the great nation that our forefathers worked to create.

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