Peter Alter
Peter Alter
Chicago History Museum

What should immigrants’ rights be?


My ancestors came to the United States in the 1800s mainly from modern day Ireland and Germany. While in school, my favorite history topics were connected to immigrants and their history in the United States. I have thought a lot about immigrants and their roles in history and modern day life.

My ancestors came here long ago, and no one has ever questioned my U.S. citizenship. During World War II, though, Japanese Americans had their citizenship questioned and tested. Enslaved people could not be citizens until the end of slavery in1865. 

Today, different groups discuss what immigrants’ rights should be, hoping for changes in the laws related to immigration. Many focus on people who come to this country without proper documents. Some think they should be sent back to their homelands with penalties. Others think undocumented immigrants should eventually be given a path to U.S. citizenship. 

Many immigrants also struggle with language and cultural barriers and misunderstandings. Often, because they aren’t U.S. citizens, they also don’t feel like they are protected by laws here. What do you think immigrants’ rights should be? Give it some thought and respond. 


Discussion closed on November 29, 2011

Closing Statement

Thanks Julianna G. and Maggie H. for participating. You both bring up important points about the debate over immigrants and citizenship.

Others also argue that American Indians are the only truly native people in the United States and that the rest of us are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.

Language has also long been an issue when it comes to immigrants and citizenship. People voting in Chicago, for example, can get help from poll workers in Spanish, Chinese, and soon one of the languages from India.

Maggie mentions loyalty which many people often raise when it comes to immigrants. The question of loyalty led to the imprisonment of 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Today, immigrants who show their loyalty to this country by joining the U.S. military can become citizens faster.

Thanks again and keep participating!


Julianna G, 8th

November 08, 2011 - 09:39am

I think that if immigrants test and are accepted to be U.S. citizens that they deserve all the rights we have. We are all immigrants! This is Native American soil we are on. They were here first and look at how we treat them! They're living on reservations to this day! If immigrants become citizens they should have full rights!

Maggie H, 8th

November 08, 2011 - 09:31am

I think immagrants deserve American rights if they have a good reason to come to our country. Also we should welcome them to our country even if they speak a different language but they should learn the basics of English. If they are very loyal to our country then we should give them all the rights a citizen of the America should have.