Franklin! Carnegie! Einstein! Canseco! Brin! Why Immigrants Matter Independence Weekend

America's love-hate relationship with immigrants

Americans fret over the quality, and even solvency, of basic public resources. Notably, many public institutions and services (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the state university systems, etc) did not exist or were in their infancy during the last era of great immigration, the 1880 to 1910 influx of southern and eastern Europeans. After this immense wave — during the Great Depression — government at all levels embarked new policies to help the nation's poor, sick, and suffering.

Now things have changed: Immigrants make claims on public goods and services.

From the New Deal to the first part of the 1960s Great Society programs, Democrats practiced a brand of liberalism quite different from today's. That liberalism "sought to expand both rights and prosperity. But it did something more: That liberalism was built around the idea that citizens should be called upon to look beyond their own self-interest and work for a greater common interest," according to Michael Tomasky, editor of Democracy journal.

How will immigration fare under Obama's brand of liberalism?