The percentage of foreign-born residents in the United States recently reached a level not seen in 100 years. The percentage of people born in countries living here is nearly 14%.

Twenty years ago, it was around 4.7%. New Jersey's percentage is at 22.7, the second most in the country behind California. The largest number of foreign-born residents in the Garden State are from The Dominican Republic.

The largest number of people not born in the United States living here are from Mexico, around 25%, followed by China at around 7%. The number of Dominican-born residents nationwide is only about 3%, but much higher here.

The last time we saw numbers like these was in 1921. That was right around the time my paternal grandparents came here.

My maternal grandparents came around 1910, another year that saw an almost 15% rate of foreign-born residents living here. At that time, the country was going through a boom that required unskilled labor. The difference then was there was basically one way in, by ship.

Ellis Island
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The requirements were stricter, the regulations were tighter, and many people were sent back on the same ship that came on due to health or legal issues. We know how much money my grandfather had in his pocket ($12) and the exact town he came from and who his sponsor was here in America.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, the people who lived here seemed to have a more positive and patriotic view of the country. The people coming here, if they stayed, were eager to assimilate and "become American."

That doesn't seem to be the same sentiment of many people flocking here today.

Immigration Rights Activists Demonstrate In Washington, D.C.
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Immigration has always been a strong part of the American experience and the culture of New Jersey, but it's always been more regulated and controlled based on the needs of the country. Many people argue that illegal immigration is out of control due to the porous southern border. People are pouring in from all over the world, and we don't know who they are or where they plan to settle.

No other country is as attractive to immigrants that the United States.

Also, no other country has such a poorly guarded and loosely regulated process as we do currently. If the trend continues, that number of 22.7% of foreign-born citizens living in New Jersey could go much higher. Its implications on society will vary.

The one thing that is certain, if you complain about it, you're xenophobic and racist. So best to shut up and learn a foreign language.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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