National Geographic : 2002 Jan
Forum September 2001 The story of teenage immigrantsin "ChangingAmerica" prompted read ers to reflect on the multicultural nature of the United States. One wrote that the U.S. has "undermined its very foundation by throwing open its doors to all peoples." Another declared that "this diversity enriches the public school experience of my American-born, Jewish-Irish daughters. It is what makes America so beautiful." Changing America If we continue our present course-of at least a million immigrants a year, including all the illegals, coming to a country with the highest birthrate of any industrialized nation-we are headed for disaster. It is not a case of who these people are or where they come from, but rather how many people we can absorb without damaging the environment, polluting the very air we breathe, and clogging our highways beyond use. It's useless to moan about the envi ronment until we do something to stop the flood. Everyone who steps ashore will want to drive a car, use energy, need social ser vices, and generally take up space. At some point the very things the immigrants came for will be gone. BARBARA DUDA Marietta,Georgia Many of us fear the burden of immigration on the economy, a dilution of American character, or a cacophony of languages MEMBERSHIP Please call 1-800-NGS-LINE (1-800-647-5463). Special device for the hearing-impaired (TDD) 1-800-548-9797. Online: nationalgeographic.com/ngm we can't understand. As a Cal ifornian I have seen the anti immigrant sentiment rolled out with every state election. But as you report, only 0.7 percent of the United States claims Native American ethnicity, which shows that few of us are in a position to make any territorial claims. Immigration is human history. As a child of an American parent and a foreign-born parent, I owe my life to it. EDUARDO LACALLE Berkeley, California I think you totally missed the point these kids were trying to tell you. There are more impor tant things to them than worry ing about who is what race. You guys grew up in a different era, and it seems you are surprised that this school is such an open place where people are not afraid to be themselves. To me your article just told me about my own school. I would be wor ried and scared if I didn't come to school and see at least ten different races. As many of the students told you, coming to America was a new beginning for their families. Coming here meant not feeling confined to live your lifestyle or culture in private. They don't want to sit around and talk about where NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * JANUARY 2002 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC How Old Is It? Solving the Riddle of Ages ! NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "For the increase and diffusion of geographicknowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. 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