United States: About the United States – An Introduction Part 3


A Modern Day Portrait of the United States

Land of Immigrants. The US promotes itself as the land of the free and a country of opportunity for many different peoples. As a nation, it was founded by an immigrant population, has admitted over 100 million immigrants in its short history as a nation-state, and continues to accept hundreds of thousands of newcomers each year. These individuals bring their cultures and traditions with them and are largely free to continue them in the US. There are, for example, over 1,700 religions currently practiced in the country and a sizable population that speaks Spanish due to immigration from Spanish-speaking countries.

The Mosaic Concept. Once called a ‘melting pot,’ the US is now described using the concept of a ‘colourful mosaic’ to represent better the diverse ethnicities, religions, and lifestyles present in the US. This type of rhetoric generally paints a positive picture of the diversity present in the US, and hides some of the issues that the US deals with regarding its diversity. These include issues such as largely segregated ethnic neighbourhoods, race relation issues, limited access to education and opportunities for certain groups and discrimination.

The Impact of 9/11. As the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour, the events of September 11, 2001 have had a significant impact on the American way of life. For a long time after the event, Americans were staying in more, spending less, and were increasingly fearful of additional terrorist activity. This continues to a lesser extent in current times, fueled more recently by the wartime mentality from the War on Iraq and the ongoing colour-coded National Security threat system that keeps people in the US aware of possible terrorist activity. As a nation, the US proved to be quite resilient following 9/11, with the economy making great strides toward recovery following the event and citizens coming together to support those impacted by the terrorist attacks.

Post 9/11 Legislation Affecting Visitors and Immigrants. The events of 9/11 brought on a whole new line of laws and legislations initiated to prevent future terrorist activity on US soil. Many of these laws have been controversial in the US, with some arguing them necessary for the purpose of national security and others stating that they violate basic rights and freedoms surrounding privacy. The most recent legislation of this sort is a new entry regulation requiring visitors from certain nations to be fingerprinted upon their arrival to the United States. In addition, individuals applying for a visa must now undergo a much more rigorous and careful review of their application.

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