Immigration reform in the United States

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Immigration to the United States of America can be dated back as early as 1700 century to 1850 century where early migrants from Western and Northern Europe migrated in large numbers due to economic, political and religious factors. The second migration was between 1850 and 1970, where immigrants moved into the United States of America to escape violence and political instability in their origin countries. The recent migration is between 1970 up to now where many people from countries such as Mexico, China, Korea, India, and other parts of Latin America, Asia and Africa have been migrating into the United States of America.

Recent migration occurs as many people from all over the world migrate to the United States of America due to many reasons such as further education, a search of employment, holiday vacations, having family members in the country among many other reasons. This is because the United States of America has better learning institutions all over the world, has a developed economy thus a high number of job opportunities and enjoys peace and stability. Thus most people strive to immigrate into the United States either legally or illegally. Those who immigrate legally may extend their residence even after their original period of residence has expired. Thus those individuals reside illegally in the US (United States).

The 1965 Immigration Act opened doors widely for migrants to move to the United States through the allocation of legal permanent residences commonly referred to as green cards (Golash-Boza, 2015). The Act allowed American citizens to sponsor the immigration of their parents, spouses, siblings, and children while legal permanent legal residents could sponsor spouses, children, and unmarried adult children. This lead to chain immigration where one sponsors family member then the sponsored family member sponsors another family, and the trend continues. As a result of chain immigration, the foreign-born population doubled since 1970 and about 11 to 20 million illegal immigrants are currently residing in the United States. It is estimated that around 12.9% of the overall population in the United States of America is made up of immigrants. Immigration into the United  States has both positive and negative effects of the  American government and the citizens (Golash-Boza, 2015).

Among the positive effects, there is the creation of labor. Immigrants move to the United  States of   America in such of jobs and employment.  Among the jobs done by immigrants who do not have skills and have no formal education include maids, housekeepers, construction workers, porters, industrial workers, ground workers while for skilled immigrants they may do jobs such as nurses, makeup specialists, shampooers and skin care specialists. However, the challenge posed by these immigrants is, about some of them are residing in the United States of America illegally especially the semi-skilled and unskilled immigrants.

Immigrants also generate revenue to the government of the United States of America. This is through taxes they pay to the government. Some of the immigrants are business owners in the country. Thus they create employment, and at the same time, they pay revenue to the government for operating the business.  Moreover, the government of the United States of America earns revenue through duties paid by immigrants when they send money and goods back to their country of origin.

Immigrants have also helped to promote diversity in the United States of America as people of different cultures migrate into the country and live. Some of the immigrants have intermarried with Native American people. This has helped the American citizens to understand people from all different walks of lives and culture thus promoting global diversity. Thus making America unique.

Immigrants have also helped to create a healthy competition in the United States of America especially in institutions of learning. Many immigrant students have been a source of innovation and invention in institutions of higher learning. Some of the most productive scientists and engineers are foreign-born.

Immigration has also led to significant negative effects on the economy of United States. These include a reduction in wages for Americans as the increased number of immigrants increased competition in job market especially on semi-skilled labor. Further, the income earned by illegal immigrants is not reported to internal revenue system thus is not taxed and accounted for. The government also spends billions of money on offering benefits and services to illegal immigrants such as security, medical care, public education and unemployment insurance. Large numbers of immigrants have led to the increased population as it is estimated that about 700,000 births from illegal immigrants occur yearly thus high rate of population growth (Travis, Western, & Redburn, 2014). Additionally, the increased population in the US has led to adverse effects on both economy and environment such as high rate of unemployment and increased allocation to services offered by the government to the citizens, with excessive destruction of the environment among other effects.

Apart from economic effects, chain migration has been a threat to the US national security as terrorists have used the opportunity of immigration to conduct activities on the American soil. The US involvement in matters pertaining world security has led to increasing number of enemies, especially from militia groups. Thus these groups have used the loophole present in immigration to access entry into the country and conduct their activities such massive bombing and even recruitment of their members. Majority of suspects involved in an attack by al-Qaeda militia group on September 11, 2001, were foreign immigrants (Freilich, Chermak, & Belli, 2014).

Due to these adverse effects of illegal immigration, various legal reforms have been placed to curb illegal migration. During Barack Obama’s reign, executive orders were put in place. It allowed for undocumented immigrants mostly parents of American citizens who had resided in the country for more than five years to acquire legality to reside in the country and not be deported. It also allowed adults who were more than 30 years old to apply for deportation to be deferred. Earlier only young immigrants under 30 years old, who arrived as children were allowed to apply for a deportation deferral after every three years (Gonzales, Terriquez, & Ruszczyk, 2014). Moreover, people who were illegal immigrants but invested in the country and those who pursued science, technology, engineering and math degrees were to be facilitated with visas. The procedures for immigrating into the country were to be modified, and more resources on strengthening security on borders were to be covered.

The executive action did not offer appropriate and long lasting solution to illegal immigration. Rather it seemed to promote Illegal immigration as about 4.9 million illegal immigrants who were supposed to be deferred back to their countries acquired deferral of their deportation (Gonzales et al., 2014). Thus encouraging more undocumented immigrants to continue residing in the country. The executive orders were also cumbersome to implement due to a high number of immigrants in the country.

This has led to the introduction of Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) 2017 bill which if implemented it would reduce the rate of immigration by half. The new bill limits family sponsorship to only spouse and children unlike the 1965 Act which allowed spouses, parents, children and adult siblings (Friedman & Hayden, 2017). Spouses of foreign workers will also not be allowed into the country.  The bill also provides new requirements for one to acquire legal permanent residence often referred to as green cards. Illegal immigrants will not be granted rights to find work, have credit cards, education and birthrights of their children.  The requirements include; ability to speak English, medium level of income, ability to afford personal health, possession of marketable job skills and having an advanced degree. The bill proposes heavy penalties for any individual or organization going against the act. Immigrants found to be possessing VISAS which have overstayed for more than five years will be subject to massive fines and jail time. International students overstaying in the country after expiry of their visas will have their school records erased. If Information of an overstayed immigrant appears on any national records, it will be listed with national databases as criminals. Companies involved in the employment of illegal immigrants will be subjected to fines (Friedman & Hayden, 2017).

The bill will provide funding for the erection of a physical barrier on the southern border with Mexico where about hundreds of thousands illegal immigrants use to cross into the country yearly. Immigrants from Latin world who contribute the largest number of immigrants use the border to get into the country illegally.  The 2000 mile border wall is expected to reduce the number of immigrants from about 10,000 to 5000 per day. All immigrants will have to be verified at checkpoints before entering the country (Martin, 2017).

Various government agencies have also been formed to help in curbing illegal immigration. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a government agency that oversees all people and goods in all entry points. It enforces laws against illegal entry. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is also another government agency that is responsible for making sure that immigrations and customs requirements are adhered to. Those requirements include employer requirements, detentions, and removals. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also is an agency for ensuring proper procedures of immigrating into the United States of America. It deals with immigrant services such as visa petitions, application for naturalization and asylum and refugee requests. It also administers a program for verifying immigration referred to as E-verify program.

The US government through an executive order banned citizens of some countries especially those associated with terrorism and Muslim-majority. These countries include Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen (Martin, 2017). The executive order aimed to secure the country from attacks from militia groups associated with those countries. Militia groups have been taking advantage of the open immigration to perform their activities in the US. Thus the travel ban to citizens of those countries is among the immigration reforms aimed at securing American soil.

According to legislators behind the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) bill 2017, the reforms in the bill will have a lot of benefits to the American economy. It will protect the American workers by reducing competition by illegal immigrants to job opportunities thus increasing their wages and reducing the rate of employment among the American citizens. The new reforms will also priorities the needs of American citizens as reduced number immigrants means reduce in government spending on offering services to a large population hence American citizens will benefit more. Also, it reduces revenue offered spend by the government in offering services to non-citizens such as security, public education, and medical care. Reduction in rate of immigration into the United States will also improve the quality of American life thus making America competitive (Travis et al., 2014).

Although, the new immigration reforms seem to have several benefits to the United States government and its citizens. It may have adverse effects at the same time to the US and the immigrants. Most immigrants will be left jobless, and this will have negative effects on their lives, people who depend on them and their countries of origin. The level of unemployment and poverty will rise due to loss of jobs in the US. The new reforms will also result in family separation as family members who do not have legal documentation to reside in America will be forced back to their countries of origin while those who reside legally will remain thus are forced to part from each other. It will also have a negative effect on America’s economy as immigrants assist in foreign exchange by sending goods and money to countries of origin. Thus the new reforms will result in a reduced exchange. The new reform also may result in lack of skilled labor in sectors which depended on immigrants for labor as most American citizens depended on immigrants to perform duties on jobs which required unskilled and semi-skilled labor. These sectors include agriculture and industries.

The travel ban reform resulted in a negative attitude by citizens of countries whose citizens were banned from traveling to America towards the American people. Most countries reacted to the reform negatively claiming that it was against the Muslim community as countries banned were of the Muslim majority. This has led to diplomatic conflicts between the United States and other countries. The construction of the 2000 mile wall on the US southern border and Mexico to curb illegal migration into the US is an example of reform which has resulted in diplomatic conflicts as Mexico does not want to support the project (Martin, 2017).  The new immigration reforms will also have an impact on the diversity of the America as people from all over the world will be restricted from going into the country thus reducing interaction of the American people with people of different culture.

Implementation of the reforms has also faced some challenges and is yet to face more in future. The travel ban reform, for example, faced a lot of obstacles as many American citizens opposed. Its implementation was canceled by a court of law and led to a misunderstanding between the executive and judiciary as the executive viewed the judiciary as being an obstacle in implementing its policies. Another major challenge is the reforms are difficult and expensive to implement. The process of identifying the legal and illegal immigrants, their age, number of years they have resided among other details is very cumbersome due to the high number of immigrants who are present in the country. The construction of two thousand miles southern wall is also very expensive as it is estimated to cost about thirty million dollars per mile. Thus it raises questions as to whether the construction of the border wall is really necessary or not.

In conclusion, immigration has made the United States of America a great difference especially in its history. Thus legal migration can still be allowed as it helps to build the nation economically, politically and socially. However, over immigration could have adverse effects on the citizens of The United States. Thus means of regulating the rate of immigration can be controlled.

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  1. Freilich, J. D., Chermak, S. M., & Belli, R. (2014). Homegrown Terrorism in the United States. In Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 2336–2345). Springer. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_93
  2. Friedman, L. M., & Hayden, G. M. (2017). American law: An introduction. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=2bJjDQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=This+has+led+to+introduction+of+Reforming+American+Immigration+for+a+Strong+Economy+(RAISE)+2017+bill+&ots=T86XuheoFd&sig=QukFsSB9NcRV76whybUone4oWxU
  3. Golash-Boza, T. M. (2015). Immigration Nation: Raids, detentions, and deportations in post-9/11 America. Routledge. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=3CceCwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=The+1965+Immigration+Act+opened+doors+widely+for+migrants+to+move+to+United+States+through+allocation+of+legal+permanent+residences+commonly+referred+to+as+green+cards.&ots=tt_WOsQN2k&sig=qyLlV5NYwuxe2dQuKikUYM2MaYk
  4. Gonzales, R. G., Terriquez, V., & Ruszczyk, S. P. (2014). Becoming DACAmented: Assessing the short-term benefits of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). American Behavioral Scientist, 58(14), 1852–1872.
  5. Martin, P. L. (2017). President Trump and US Migration after 100 Days. Migration Letters, 14(2), 319–328.
  6. Travis, J., Western, B., & Redburn, F. S. (2014). The growth of incarceration in the United States: Exploring causes and consequences. Retrieved from http://academicworks.cuny.edu/jj_pubs/27/
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