America û the land of freedom and opportunity. Lady Liberty, who stands in New York Harbor shining the light of freedom and holding the principles of this country in her hand, welcomes people of all nations into this melting pot of mankind. She encompasses the ideals of those who dream of life in America. They visualize a new life where there is no oppression, where they can freely express their ideas, and where they can be educated to openly pursue their endeavors. To them, America is a country that cares for her people û with each one equal in the eyes of government, society, and the law.
Most Americans can offer a nice metaphor of the Statue of Liberty such as this, but what has happened when America's social policy no longer reflects such a warm welcome? In recent years, voters have been charged with deciding whether illegal immigrants and their children have a right to pursue their dreams in safety in this country and with the support of public benefits. They have been required to judge whether the U.S. Constitution should protect illegal immigrants in the same way it protects those born and naturalized here. It would seem, that, as evidenced by the voters' affirmation of Proposition 187 and Proposition 200, in California and Arizona respectively, the prevailing social movement is now against immigrants.
Though America used to welcome immigrants in New York Harbor and San Francisco Bay with open arms, issues of immigration and "undocumented immigrants" have plagued the American consciousness for more than a century now. What happened to influence such a dramatic change? In answer to that question, perhaps it is significant that at the same time that the dramatic shift in social policy towards immigrants occurred, so did the role of the mass media in influencing public opinion.
In order to gauge current public sentiment about the value and rights of illegal immigrants, it is important to first consider the...