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Immigration Issues in the United States

Abstract

          The United States has historically been a desirable destination for millions of immigrants and their families from all over the world, and this still reigns true today. The US is still a target country, but this contemporary migration raises socioeconomic issues and provokes debates concerning reform and policy changes. One of the reasons immigration is so controversial is that it’s necessary to the labor force to maintain balance, whereas immigration, particularly the illegal kind, contributes to high crime rates, growing expenses on health care services, and education.

Immigration Issues

          Initially, it’s important to understand that immigration is vital for the US today. While population is aging, the fertility rate and birth rate remain relatively high because the fertility rate and birth rate is highest among the immigrant population. Additionally, those immigrating to the United States are an economically active population, meaning they’re able to work and often come to the US in search of better employment opportunities.

          In this regard, immigration has a positive impact on the socioeconomic development of the United States because it extends the labor force market and contributes to ongoing economic growth. For this reason, many “specialists stress that the immigration policy should focus on the stimulation of immigration to the US, but immigration should be regulated” (Cooper, 2008), justified by a number of respective reasons.

          Primarily, the lack of control and regulation of immigration itself raises the problem of illegal immigration. The “illegal” immigration elicits numerous socioeconomic problems, such as unemployment, growing crime rates, and increasing strain on health care services and education. Immigrants increase the competition in the labor force which deprives non-immigrants of the possibility of employment. Typically, illegal immigrants receive lower wages than “legal” workers, consequently motivating employers to hire illegal immigrants. In times of economic recession, the negative impact of illegal immigration on the labor market raises strong opposition and demands the implementation of immigration reform.

          Although it’s not only socioeconomic issues being raised by illegal immigration. It also gives rise to more traditional problems. Most immigrants move to the US in search of better job opportunities and higher living standards. This could mean that they cannot afford health insurance or higher education for their children, and as a result, increase pressure on state budgets because the immigrant population still needs education and health care services. Local budgets, as well as federal, have to increase funding for public education and develop health care services for a population that cannot afford insurance.

          Thus, immigration has an irresolute effect on the United States. It’s essential to maintain balance in the work force, yet precipitates other problems such as increasing state budget strains on education, health care services, and growing crime rates.         

          America is a nation of “rights.” In the past 50 years, the United States has had to contend with virtually every rights movement imaginable: civil rights, students’ rights, abortion rights, disabilities rights, gun ownership rights, women’s rights, homosexual rights, victims’ rights, and now immigrant’s rights (Bean, 1990).

          One of the most controversial political issues today is illegal immigrants from Mexico entering our country (Hannity, 2007). Illegal immigration into the United States is a problem that should be a concern, as it is unfair to both Americans and to the people of this country who legally immigrated (Light, 1993). Immigration in the United States is growing out of control. Each year more and more illegally immigrants filter into our country. Scientific research has proven that we cannot continue to take in all these illegal immigrants (Bean, 1990). The question is whether we should learn to accept illegal immigrants and grant them their wish, or send them back to their home and try to stop illegal immigration once and for all.

          During the 1980’s, the Unites States received about 8 million immigrants, approximately 800,000 per year (Wilson, 1990). That included both legal admissions and illegal entrants who later received amnesty and legal residence. The volume has increased in the 1990’s, with about 900,000 immigrants arriving each year (Light, 1993). Over the past 30 years, the source countries of these immigrants to the United States have shifted dramatically. In the 1950’s many immigrants migrated here from European countries then in the 1990’s most of the immigrants entering the United States were from Asian and Latin American countries (Bean, 1990). In 2007 it is estimated that 11 to 12 million foreigners live and work in the United States illegally. Most of the immigrants flee their county to escape poverty and unemployment. Most of the illegal immigrants are poorly educated and come to the US to work low paying jobs that most native-born Americans will not accept (Preston, 2007).

          The main reason that everybody wants to go to the United States is because if they would go somewhere like France or Japan, however they would get higher wages, there is a much greater chance of getting harassed, arrested or deported in those countries, as opposed to the United States (Hannity, 2007).

          United States immigration policy in recent decades has not provided for strong, effective measures to reduce illegal immigration, and at the same time, explicitly authorizes high levels of legal immigration (Hernandez, 2004). Therefore, there have been high levels of immigration in this country since the 1960s. In 1980 public polls indicated that a majority of the United States public favored establishing current legal immigration. Since the 1960s there have been few acts that have been passed. When the Immigration Act of 1990 was passed it had a major impact on the United States (Wilson, 1990).

          Upon signing the Immigration Act of 1990 into law, President Bush hailed the benefits of this legislation for the nation, saying, “This act recognizes the fundamental importance and historic contributions of immigrants to our country,” and “is good for families, good for business, good for crime fighting, and good for America” (Hernandez, 2004, p100).

          During a signing for an immigration quota law in 1924, President Coolidge states, “America must be kept American” (Light, 1993). Unfortunately, in this day-and-age, America is not being kept American. Many immigrants have come into the United States and have changed the way things work. When one reads a sign in public, for example, it is most likely to not only having the phrase written in English but also in another language such as Spanish. Along with many other Americans, I believe that immigrants displace United States workers, burden social welfare systems, and threaten American culture (Wilson, 1990).

          The only way to stop these economic problems is to stop immigration. FAIR is an interest group that favors stronger restrictions on legal immigration. FAIR states, “Today a wide-open door is an invitation to national disaster” (Hannity, 2007, Interview). It is a fact that many problems that America faces today such as drug issues come from immigrants that are sometimes even illegal immigrants. Once immigrants come into the United States they are in for good and the government tries to come about ways and excuses to keep them in.

          On the other hand, immigration has given the United States some positive factors. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants and revolutionists” (Hernandez, 2004), which is definitely true, because if we were not here the United States would not be as prosperous as it is now.

Immigration problem solutions

          Here are a few proposals that might help the U.S. solve the immigration problem. The United States could try opposing any guest-worker program, increase funding for the U.S., enabling local law enforcement to protect citizens from illegal immigration, requiring foreign countries to quickly accept their citizens back, denying “birthright citizenship” to newborn children of illegals, ending welfare benefits for illegal immigrants, building a fence along the U.S. border, prohibiting in-state education to the children of illegals, requiring certain business to verify, via a computerized system, an employee’s Social Security number, enforcing laws that forbid localities from preventing police from reporting immigration information, implementing a national exit-entry tracking system for all aliens, enacting stiffer penalties for alien smugglers, cracking down on the construction of financing of tunnels into the U.S., authorizing the use of the armed forces on the border, preventing driver’s licenses issued to illegal immigrants from being used for federal purposes; such as boarding a plane, much of America fears the prospect of 12 million illegal immigrants instantly receiving U.S. citizenship- including the right to vote, politicians are left with making decisions that will ultimately please almost no one, and will anger most (Bean, 1990). Immigration also gives legal immigrants opportunities for employment as normal Americans, providing that they know English. Although these facts are true, I still feel that immigration should be restricted.

          I think if I want to support a strong opinion on the topic, I need to actually spend some time talking to a person who migrated here from a country. If I talked to somebody who came here from Mexico maybe I could see a different side of the argument. That is who I would seek out to better understand the situation. Even though I am against illegal immigration, I feel that a Christ like approach at solving illegal immigration would be to accept the illegal immigrants and treat them with respect. Most of them are innocent human beings that should be treated with just as much respect as natural born citizens. 

Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is one of the most heated topics in our current economic and political climate. In the last few years we have had many debates in government about what immigrants are entitled to in America, as well as a declaration from the President wanting to grant amnesty to many of these illegal immigrants. A few very controversial aspect of illegal immigration is the topic of whether or not it is affecting the unemployment rate amongst Americans, if immigrants are being given more benefits through government, and the fact that illegal immigrants are able to get drivers licenses.

One of the issues regarding illegal immigration is the fact that only estimates of how many are present in the United States exist. The number ranges from 9 to 20 million with the conventional estimate being 11 million. Per the Department of Labor’s June [2010] jobs report is details that the total of unemployed Americans reached 17.2 million. In contrast to the estimated 11 million (low) that potentially contributes to 64% of our unemployment rate. High unemployment is not only a result of stressed market factors, but it has also been created-and prolonged-by our illegal immigration problem. (Confer B, 2012)

Illegal immigrants work for cash under the table and most will work for less pay because they need a job. They also do not pay taxes on the money they are making to support their families, giving them a higher bottom line that struggling Americans who work just as hard. Many are able to get benefits including food, cash assistants, WIC, driver’s licenses, and insurance. These benefits could benefit a struggling American family but many times are given to people who have entered our country illegally.

There are many challenges America are faced with when dealing with these problem. Many of which also extend into the realm of ethical behavior. In order to identify an illegal immigrant and therefore be able to enforce current immigration laws, the enforcing agencies would be forced to profile that individual. This brings up concerns with reference to racial discrimination and the boundaries one may have to cross to enforce the laws. While the conservative population in general does not have issues with this, the liberal community feels this violates an individual’s rights.

“America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are about 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country,” stated Immigration (n.d.) in reference to the President Barack Obama’s United States immigration policy (para. 1). Immigration continues to be an issue for the American economy, to its border security, and has become an election platform for many politicians and their constituents. Immigration is a foundation of American history and as the White House (2011) stated, “Nearly every American family has their own immigration story” (p. 1).  The policy needs reformation to meet the growing demands and changes of today’s global community because no country operates in isolation.

A stronger immigration policy could lead to a stronger economy.  One goal of a stronger policy would be to hold accountable businesses that break the law by hiring, and sometimes exploiting, undocumented employees.  This would also include creating a policy that regulates and legalizing the hiring of foreign workers by farmers that rely on the harvesting hires. Undocumented workers can take away employment opportunities for current American citizens. Second, the federal government should be responsible to for securing the American borders and prevent people with ill intentions from entering the country. Third, current illegal immigrants should register, submit to background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, and learn English.  Children that cross American borders illegally should not be punished for the actions of their parents, and it would be economically prudent to offer them citizenship if they pursue a military career or higher education. Finally, if the immigration system was more streamlined it could reward those people that are willing to follow the law and work hard to obtain legal entry into the United States.

          The current attempts to pass immigration laws have been restricted by bi-partisan politics. Republicans are unwilling to allow amnesty for current illegal immigrants, while President Obama’s immigration proposal includes this idea (The White House, 2011, p. 3).  Why America Can’t (2014) stated that, “THERE are an estimated 11m-12m immigrants living in the United States illegally, most of them Latino. Many have families, jobs and property, and far deeper roots in America than in their countries of origin” (para. 1).  It is foolish for either party to ignore the immigration concerns of America.

          According to Why America Can’t (2014) Republicans in the senate modified their immigration policy to include a more streamlined process to legally obtain citizenship (para. 2).  Why the sudden change in policy? The Republicans in the Senate have realized, “Latino voters spurned Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy in 2012, chastened Republicans realized that alienating a slice of the electorate that had grown by almost one-fifth in the preceding four years spelled political doom, at least in presidential elections” (Why America Can’t, 2014, para. 2). Immigration policy needs to be resolved to reflect the changing concerns of the American voter, to improve the economy, and to protect the United States borders.

Largest U.S. Immigrant Groups over Time, 1960-Present

          While the U.S. immigrant population is diverse, just a few countries of origin make up a large share of the total. This pie chart series shows which countries had the largest immigrant populations at various time periods between 1960 and 2014 (use the slider to select different years). For countries not in the top ten, the immigrant population is aggregated in the “other countries” category. The growth of this category over time indicates that the immigrant population comes from increasingly diverse national origins. (Largest U.S. Immigrant Groups over Time, 1960-Present, n.d.)

Conclusion

          In conclusion, there are many problems that the United States is facing today; being that immigration is one of them. Right now, at this time, bills are pending that will dramatically restrict legal immigration for years to come. Though some immigrants come to work in America, half of them do not even get a job and somehow end up on welfare. They claim that they want to live in the United States because it is a “free country,” as far as morals are concerned, but the right to live in another country involves a belief in the moral and judicial rights of that nation (Hernandez, 2004).

 

References

Bean, F. (1990). Undocumented migration to the United States. Washington, D.C:      Urban Institute Press.

Confer, B. (2012). Illegal Immigrants Take American Jobs. In N. Merino (Ed.), Current Controversies. Illegal Immigration. Detroit: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from New American, 2010, July 19),http://ic.galegroup.com.proxy.itt-tech.edu/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow

Cooper, M.A. (2008). Moving to the United States of America and Immigration. New    York:           New Publishers.

Immigration. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2016, from           http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration

Largest U.S. Immigrant Groups over Time, 1960-Present. (n.d.). Retrieved from           migrationpolicy.org: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-          hub/charts/largest-immigrant-groups-over-time

Preston, J. (2007, November 30). NATIONAL BRIEFING/IMMIGRATION: States Take   up Immigration issues. New York Times. Retrieved February, 2016, from           http://www.ebscohostdatabase.com.

Stealing jobs is a poor work ethic. (2009, November 17). Washington Times [Washington,           DC], p. A20. http://ic.galegroup.com.proxy.itt-tech.edu/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/

The White House. (May 2011). Building a 21st century immigration system. [PDF File]. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/immigration_blueprint.pdf

Uranga, R. (2007). “1,300 immigrants arrested by feds”. Retrieved February 08, 2016 from           http://www.dailynews.com/ci_7077404

Why America can’t fix its immigration problem. (2014, July 08). Retrieved February 01, 2016, from http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/07/economist-explains-5

Wide Web: http://infoweb.newsbak.comlibrarycatalogs.nnu.edu>. Newspaper Article

 

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