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LETTER: U.S. immigrant needs have changed since 19th century

(metro creative)

To the Editor:

During a speech regarding a barrier President Donald Trump wanted, Sen. Chuck Schumer quoted a portion of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. A plaque with her poem was affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses ..."

The situation in 1883? We needed people! The population of the United States was approximately 80 million, with a land mass stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the country experienced an influx of workers for the factories, railroad construction, farmers and other labor-intensive industries. Many immigrated from Western Europe.

Two additional events influencing the U.S. at the time? The Homestead Act and the transcontinental railroad expansion west to the coast of California. With the increase of workers came a need for farmers to feed the inhabitants. John Deere was selling steel plows to be used with a horse or mule for breaking the sod of the Dakotas and beyond. A saying at the time — "With Deere's plow, a farmer could break an acre of ground — if he were to work from sunrise to sunset."

The situation in 2019? The population of the U.S is approximately 330 million and there's virtually no additional land available, with tractors that can plow acres in less than a minute. And streams of caravans are coming up from the south.

I have no idea what the population of Western Europe was in 1883 but the collective population of the three countries sending caravans to the U.S. — Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — is roughly 32.4 million. Might Venezuela be next?

Bob Brady

Mitchell