I always thought immigration to America was and is always primarily driven by economic opportunities, tight supply and demand for specific skill sets at that time in America, personal affiliations, quest for distinctive political and religious expressions, and recently also through diversity lottery. However, I have been recently told by educated people who think immigration should not primarily have an economic angle and should really be made for people "who were born in societies for which their personalities are incompatible, and they ought to be able to move to more congenial ones". This premise or similar elitist or exclusivist notions are so half-baked ideas that it reminds me of Quigley Down Under - a fine movie nevertheless and a classic. Here is the scene I am talking about:
Elliott Marston: [O'Flynn and Dobkin prepare Quigley for an old-fashioned duel] I seem to remember you're not too familiar with Colonel Colt's revolver, so this will be your first lesson. Don't worry. Mr Dobkin and Mr. O'Flynn will ensure that it's a fair contest.
Elliott Marston: [Marston starts walking backwards] I'll just back up a few paces... And to your left a bit, that's it... Now you're right in front of my old pistol target.
Elliott Marston: [Marston slips his coat back to reveal his holster] Some men are born in the wrong century. I think I was born on the wrong continent. Oh, by the way, you're fired
Matthew Quigley: This ain't Dodge City. And you ain't Bill Hickok.
Matthew Quigley: [Quigley shoots Dobkin, O'Flynn and Marston before they can even aim their guns, then walks up to a dying Marston] I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn't know how to use it.
None of us are Bill Hickok or thought like Elliott Marston- yet people immigrate to United States for different personal reasons that are deeply personal to them - be it a farm laborer from Peru or a doctor from India or a physicist from China or a fisherman from Vietnam or a nurse from Russia. None of them are necessarily special creed or misfits or on the run or prosecuted (only rarely) in their home country either. Often, their ability to immigrate is also tied to their economic status at home - a very poor villager in India does not even have an option to immigrate from India to America unless they get educated in elite institutes. But then getting admitted in these elite institutes in their countries is not entirely a level playing field. Poorest of the poor try illegal immigration route as seen often on the southern border. For some family responsibilities in their mother country will not allow them to immigrate even if the opportunity presented itself.
Nor they stop loving and caring for their native country either ever once they immigrate. Irish-Americans have played a very decisive role in the emergence of Ireland as an economic power. Also, none of them are Bill Hickok or were closeted gun slingers destined for Dodge city. Definitely, not an immigrant from Botswana through diversity lottery - yet he carries rich dreams. In all these process, he enriches and also develops a deep love for America.