The United States is one of the countries that have attracted the highest number of immigrants from all over the world. Immigration into the United States dates back to pre-independence period when the Whites moved into the country during the industrial revolution. The Blacks came to the country as slaves to work in the industrial sector or for domestic chores. After independence in 1776, the flow of immigrants into the country did not come to an end.
The periods leading to the Great Depression in 1929 saw a huge number of immigrants coming into the country in search of better job opportunities. According to Maani and Yu (108), American experienced massive inflow of immigrants after the Second World War. The country had emerged as one of the Superpowers but unlike the USSR that had a racist society that did not tolerate immigration, the American society was more diversified, with people from all over the world.
The American economy was the largest in the world, which meant that it had better employment opportunities than any other region in the world. The American Dream could be one of the reasons why many people around the world wanted to immigrate into the United States. The Baby Boomers had just turned the economy around, and in America, it seemed everything was possible.
People were becoming very successful in technological innovation. Business was booming in America, and things seemed to work out right for everyone who shared the dream. The dream was so powerful that it attracted a mass flow of people from various countries who wanted to be part of the dream. The American immigration policies were keen to attract talents from all over the world to help fuel the dream into reality.
However, as these talents came into the country through legal means, another group was entering the country illegally to be part of the dream. This has raised issues in this society. This research paper seeks to analyze the United States immigration policies and problems.
The United States’ Immigration Policies
After gaining independence, the United States did not develop strong immigration policies that would control immigration of people into the country. According to O’Neill (3), the country did not have any clear immigration policies until 1882 when there emerged a problem of the influx of Chinese into the country. According to Johnson and Trujillo (45), the Whites were concerned that the number of Chinese immigrants into the country was increasing exponentially.
What was even more worrying was that these immigrants were coming into the country with new cultures and religious beliefs that were strange to the locals. For this reason, the government developed policies that would limit this flow of immigrants into the country. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was specifically designed to expel the Chinese and other non-Whites who had come to the country from various parts of the world (Maani and Yu 119).
Although the government did not expel the non-Whites from the country, the policy helped in reducing the influx of people, especially the Chinese, into the country. However, this does not mean that they stopped coming into the country.
The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 was designed to ensure that most of the immigrants into the United States came from Western and Northern Europe (Johnson and Trujillo 46). This Act was focused on limiting the flow of Europeans from Eastern and Southern Europe following the growing tension between the East and the West. In 1929, the National Origins Act was passed by the congress the number of immigrants into the country to 150,000.
This Act also emphasized on the need to limit the flow of Europeans from Eastern Europe into the country (Johnson and Trujillo 49). During the Great Depression, the American society became less attractive as job opportunities reduced, and living standards dropped significantly. There was a natural drop of the number of people who immigrated into the country during this period. However, this changed when the country finally overcame the depression and started experiencing economic prosperity.
Immediately after the Second World War, the United States emerged as one of the two superpowers in the world. This meant that it had the responsibility of helping the displaced people all over the world. The Displaced Persons Act of 1921 was enacted by the Congress to help settle victims of the war that were homeless. This Act did not discriminate on the basis of originality of the immigrants.
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 allowed people all over the world and from whichever race to immigrate into the United States as long as they were willing to support the Western ideologies (Maani and Yu (109). However, this Act received a lot of criticism from members of the society because many people believed that it did not focus on the interest of the Americans. The Immigration Act of 1965 sought to address issues that were raised over previous Acts (Johnson and Trujillo 52).
It sought to abolish any discriminatory policies that had been put in place by some of the previous Acts. The Refugee Act of 1980 was enacted to help limit the number of people who could reside in the United States as refugees (Johnson and Trujillo 67). The government became concerned over the number of illegal immigrants coming from Latin America. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1980 specifically focused on limiting illegal immigration of Latin Americans into the country.
In the recent times, the government has enacted a number of policies to address the problem of immigration in the country. The Immigration Act of 1996 sought to protect the rights of the immigrants in the United States (Johnson and Trujillo 56).
The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 was specifically designed to deal with the problem of terrorism associated with immigrants, and address the porous border that enabled Mexicans to illegally immigrate into the country (Maani and Yu 120).
Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 was enacted to help reform immigration policies and encourage talents from all over the world to come and work in the United States. These laws have been used to regulate the flow of immigrants into the country.
Discussion of US Immigration Policies
The Problem with the Current Immigration Policies
According to Correa-Cabrera and Rojas-Arenaza (304), although the country has enacted several laws to help regulate immigration into the country, it is still apparent that more needs to be done in order to improve the current policies that many consider inadequate in addressing illegal immigration. The United States government has always found itself at a precarious state when addressing the issue of immigration. Correa-Cabrera and Rojas-Arenaza (310) say that immigration is one of the most discussed topics in the United States today.
Many politicians have won elections on the basis of their stand on the immigration policies, while others have failed because of their views on the same. The problem that the government experienced when dealing with the immigration is the need to balance the interest of its citizens and the image among the immigrants when implementing some of these policies. America still needs talents from all over the world to propel it to greater success.
In order to attract these talents, it must be cautious not give the impression that it is against immigration into the country. It means that it has to be tolerant when dealing with some of the illegal immigrants. On the other hand, the American populace is not concerned with the idea of looking for talents from all over the world to take various employment opportunities that should be taken by the current citizens. They view immigrants as people who deny them their employment opportunities, thereby increasing unemployment in the country.
The government is given the mandate to rule by the people of America. It has the responsibility of respecting their wish by doing what they feel should be done on the issue of immigration. The same government has an image to protect in the global society. Everyone in the world is keen on monitoring how the country treats people from other parts of the world.
There is also the thorny issue of illegal immigration from the neighboring countries. The terrorists who come to the country with ill motives only serve to confirm the fears of the citizens that the illegal immigrants pose dangers to the American society. The American government has to find a way of addressing these issues to the satisfaction of its citizens, but in a way that will not hurt its global image.
Arguments for the Reform of the Current Immigration Policies
According to Stuen et al. (1145), the issue of immigration has raised massive concern among the American populations. Over 71% of Americans are in favor of immigration reforms. Those who support these reforms believe that the current immigration policies are not adequately addressing the issue of illegal immigration into the country. According to Good (4278), illegal immigrants are largely to blame for the increasing unemployment into the country.
The scholar says that these illegal immigrants find their way into the country because of weak regulation policies. Once they get into the country, they easily get absorbed into various industries because of their attractiveness to the employers. One fact that makes them attractive is that they are always willing to accept lower wages than the American citizens.
For this reason, employers consider them as the best alternative in their effort to increase their profitability. Some of them are skilled in various fields, making them just as good as American workers. This makes American workers lack job opportunities in their own country.
According to Stuen (1173), most of the illegal immigrants do not engage in formal employment. They undertake informal jobs where they are given daily wages. It means that such workers do not pay tax to the American government. However, they still expect to enjoy amenities that are provided for by the government, just like other citizens.
This only brings burden to the country. This argument is supported by Martins (11) who says that the government has been under massive pressure to increase its expenditure on such expenses as health, security, education among others. These illegal immigrants are not captured in the national census. When the federal are planning for the American citizens, these illegal immigrants are not accounted for in their planning. However, the problem is that they will be part of those who uses these facilities.
This exerts pressure on healthcare facilities, the security apparatus, and our education facilities. What makes it worse is that these facilities are financed by tax from the Americans, but they do not participate in paying the tax. It only means that they are using these amenities free of charge.
Good (128) complains that illegal immigrants play a major role in the economic woes of this country. American business society needs money to invest in their businesses in order to boost their competitiveness in the world market. The money they need is in the hands of American workers who save their money in American banks. Most of the immigrants who come to the country do not always have plans to reside in the country permanently.
For this reason, they always repatriate the most of their earnings back to their country of origin. This means that they deny the local investors the needed money that can help boost their business operations. For this reason, these people are undesirable in our society because they do not play any important role in national development. There must be stronger policies that would eliminate these immigrants into the country.
According to Belcher and Area (403), the illegal have played a major role in contributing to the deterioration of insecurity in the American society. The September 11th terrorist attack in the American soil was a work that was closely coordinated by people who were living in this country. These people were able to enter the country and settle because of the friendly attitude of Americans towards visitors. They were able to understand our systems, and the best ways to infiltrate security checks.
Finally, they organized the worst terrorists attack in the US soil, in the modern history of the United States. Lives were lost, scores injured, and property worth billions of dollars destroyed. The country was shaken to its roots as it became apparent that Americans are not safe even in their own country. This is not the only attack on Americans that is closely related to the illegal immigrants. There have been cases where terrorist attack individuals and small groups who are innocently addressing their duties.
Cases of murder, robbery with violence, rape, burglary, forgery, kidnapping, and child abuse have closely been related to the illegal immigrants. What makes their case special is that the government does not have their data captured in a centralized system like that of other citizens. It means that it is not easy for the police or other security agencies to trace these undocumented criminals easily.
The government may be successful to identify their finger prints during investigation, but arrest can only be made if these finger prints can be traced in the central databases. However, these fingerprints may mean nothing in case it cannot be used to determine the identity of the culprits.
Some even consider leaving the country soon after committing the crimes, only to come back later and commit similar crimes. Our society must be safe, and the only way that this can be achieved is to eliminate undesirable elements that live amongst us. Undocumented immigrants should be deported back to their countries, and tougher laws should be enacted to reduce chances of finding illegal immigrants into the country.
According to Martins (133), there have been concerns among the American populations that the increasing immigration into the country is leading to radicalization of a section of the society. For some time, there has been immigration of people from the Arab World into the country and most of them come as scholars or refugees. It has been easier to assimilate such people into our society.
The scholars are intellectuals who understand the need for everyone to stay in harmony, always respecting rights of others in order to receive the same from them. They appreciate that the American society is highly diversified and that people believe in different religions. The refugees have also been able to live in this country peacefully, always receiving support and respect of other members of the American society irrespective of their religious faiths. However, there is a new trend that is worrying.
According to the research by Stuen et al. (1156), some of the illegal immigrants coming to our country are hardliners from such terror groups as Al Qaeda from Middle East or Al Shabab from Somali. They come to the country with a clear purpose to radicalize the peaceful Islamic community that has existed in the country peacefully for centuries. Most of them are religious clerics who hold very strong beliefs and intolerance towards other faiths.
They teach our Muslim brothers radicalized ideologies that make them believe that other religious groups, especially Christianity, should not be tolerated. As Maani and Yu (118) note, this is a very dangerous trend that must be addressed to retain peace we have in the country. Radicalization along religious lines may put this country in a very precarious position.
When those who are convinced of such radicalized teaching decide to what they are taught by their religious leaders, we may start witnessing increased cases of suicide bombings or terror attacks targeted at a section of the society. We may not be able to sustain intolerance towards diversity. This problem should be addressed using strong immigration policies.
Arguments against the Reform of the Current Immigration Policies
A section of the American society has been strongly opposed to the proposed immigration reforms. The research by Filindra and Kovács (38) observe that most of the people who are opposed to the immigration reforms have given a number of reasons, especially those that focus on deporting illegal immigrants. Most of the people opposed to these reforms are human rights groups who have been fighting for the rights of the illegal immigrants and other minority groups in the country.
One of the reasons that have been cited against the proposed reform is the fact that there are some tasks that Americans may not be willing to do. Carlson Volling, and Wright (49) say that when slavery came to an end, most Americans loathed manual labor, especially the Black Americans. Some of them claim that it is a reminder of the dark days when they had to work for long hours under harsh environments.
For this reason, they prefer staying without employment than to undertake such manual jobs as gardeners, loaders, cleaners, messengers, and machine operators. This society needs people to undertake such activities. As we try to develop advanced technology in the form of robots to undertake these duties, we currently need people who can volunteer to address them.
The only solution that the Americans have is the population of the immigrants. They are willing to do these duties at very affordable costs to members of our society. When they leave, many organizations and individuals may experience a lot of difficulties trying to meet the gap that will be left.
Some of the opponents have argued that the immigration reforms may affect the image of the society. According to Johnson and Trujillo (73), the American society has been viewed as a destination country for people with big dreams. The American Dream was not only sold to the American society. It was positively received by the global society, and many talents have been coming to the country simply because of the dream.
This is an image that every American should be proud of because no other country has attracted people from all over the world as America. However, these reforms may tarnish this good image. Deporting millions of people from this country may paint a negative image of our society to the world. It would be like telling the world that we have become intolerant to people from other parts of the world. Every country looks unto us for an example.
Most countries, both in the developed and developing economies, always justify their actions by referring to what America once did. It means that we are a role model to the global society. The world is watching every action we take and making their judgments. We need the moral authority in order to undertake our duty as the only superpower in the world. We have to do things differently from members of other countries because we hold a special position in the world.
We do not have any other country to set an example for us because everyone is looking on to us. We should not disappoint them by sending people out of our country, but offer them a good example by coming up with ways of addressing this issue amicably.
We are not failures and, therefore, we should not tell the world that such a great nation failed to protect its borders, necessitating the deportation of millions of immigrants. We should be able to identify criminal elements and send them away, and strengthen our institutions to make seal our porous borders. However, we should remember that it is our responsibility to protect our image in the global society.
America has always attracted talents from all over the world because many people feel that this is the only country where one can exploit his or her potential without being limited by various factors (Parker and Shearapril 2). This is one of the factors that have helped this country remain an economic giant in the world. While other countries are suffering from massive brain drain, our country has been flourishing with talents coming from all over the world.
It costs a lot to train medical doctors, and when a country loses trained doctors to other countries, it affects its ability to prosper. The same is the case with other professionals such as engineers, architects, lawyers, and statisticians. These professionals always find their way into the United States. We do not force them to come, but they believe that it is only in this country that they can achieve their dreams. This society gets to benefit a lot from this talent inflow.
The proposed policies may change things for the worse. Such talents will be weary of coming to the United States because of the fear of the unknown. It takes time to build a career in the country, and when you are sent away after establishing career roots, it can be very devastating. These talents may consider moving to other countries they consider to be having friendlier policies than the United States so that their careers may not be disrupted along the way.
This may affect our economies, especially when the country reaches a point where it has to outsource for some services, or import some products because of limited skilled labor. This is what many proponents of immigration policies have not considered.
According to the research by (Filindra and Kovács 45), there are many legal citizens of this country who have brought their relatives into the country. Most of them came through legal means, but their visas could have expired. It is important to find a way of addressing some of these issues without making some minority groups feel targeted. The government should have institutions to document such immigrants.
If they engage in criminal activities, then the government will be justified to deport them back to their country of origin. However, we should be cautious of reforms that propose radical actions that may polarize our society. Such actions may create deep wounds in the hearts of many Americans, and this may hinder integration that many people have been fighting for over the years. Let the actions of our government be fully justifiable.
Johnson and Trujillo (90) observe that the cost of deporting over 12 million illegal immigrants out of the United States may be higher than the cost of having them documented and allowed to work in the country under specific regulations. Most of these illegal immigrants are paying taxes and making contributions to the social funds.
It is a fact that their contributions to the social funds can never be recovered by them because they are working in the county illegally. This substantial amount of money can be used in various developmental issues. These reforms should be reviewed because they could lead the country into serious economic problems.
How to Address the Problem of Immigration in the United States
It is clear from the above discussion that the issue of immigration reforms remains contentious in this country. Although the majority of the populace feel that we need to have the reforms and they have good reasons for this, the opponents of the reforms also have good reasons that should not be ignored.
It is a fact that illegal immigration into the country in the contemporary world is undesirable because of many social evils that it is associated with, but we need to know the best approach that we can use to deal with the issue without affecting a section of the society or our global image. The problem should be addressed using a series of steps that would make this issue cease being a controversy.
The first step that should be taken by the government will be to secure our borders. The current regime has done well in this context because the border guards have been doubled over the last four years. Our borders should be tightly locked, and the issue of illegal immigration, especially from neighboring countries such as Mexico, should come to an end. Every immigrant should be fully documented (O’Neill 2). The second step should be, to identify undesirable elements from among the existing populations of illegal immigrants.
The focus should be on those who engage in criminal activities of any form. This should be done with the help of members of the society who should help identify such individuals. They should be deported out of the country on the basis of their criminal activities. The government should then identify those who came to the country to visit their friends or for any other reason, but have not been engaged in any gainful employments.
These individuals should also be deported out of the country on the basis that they do not add any value to the society but uses our resources. They are not our responsibility because we have our own citizens. Finally, the Congress needs to strengthen the institutions responsible for controlling immigration to enable them act with authority when guarding the country against illegal immigration.
It is a fact that the issue of immigration has raised massive debate in the American society in the recent times. Immigration reforms have been proposed to bring radical approaches when dealing with illegal immigration in the country. The proponents and opponents of these reforms have good reasons that make them feel that these reforms are desirable or undesirable.
However, we need to understand that there is a need to protect our borders against illegal immigrates because of the social ills that are associated with them. This should be done in a convention manner that will make everyone believe that justice has been served to everyone.
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