Immigration is an international movement of people from one country to another. In the United States, the first cases of immigration were reported in the 1600s. Nowadays, more than 40 million immigrants live and work in the country. At different centuries, the governments demonstrated their different attitudes towards immigrants and created laws to control this process. In this paper, the analysis of immigration in the U.S. is divided into several logical parts, including the description of people who migrate to the country, the actions of the government, and its positive and negative consequences.
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The community and economy of the country are developed due to immigrants who pay taxes, respect the law, work, and enhance entrepreneurship for a further development of the nation. Still, such challenges like overpopulation, disease transmission, and competitions with the local population cannot be ignored. Therefore, immigration in the U.S. remains a serious dilemma for society, the government, and the world.
Immigration is a frequently discussed topic in the United States. Today, this country is known for its people who come from different parts of the world to find new opportunities and improve lives. Immigration in the U.S. is a long process with a rich history. In this paper, attention will be paid to the people who choose to leave their native homes and move to the U.S. and their initial causes. Additionally, the government role in immigration control has to be discussed.
The benefits and consequences of immigrants in the U.S. have to be identified to understand if this process is a threat to the country or a good opportunity for society. Immigration is an integral part of the United States that may positively influence its economic, social, and ethical life but still burdens society with additional expenses and unpredictable behaviors.
Immigrants, Their Causes, and Demands
People who decide to immigrate to the United States may have rather different motivations. Some immigrants still believe in getting a chance and changing their lives for better. People also want to escape from their native countries to avoid punishment or persecution. In some regions, wars or revolutions deprive populations to live their normal lives, and they choose America as their temporary home. Regardless of their true reasons and conditions, more than 40 million immigrants live in the U.S. (Radford, 2019).
These are the people who were born in another country but came to America for temporary or constant living. According to Radford (2019), about 13.6% of the US population are immigrants, and more than 20% of this number remain illegal. English is an official language in the United States, but not all migrants know it at a high level and prefer to speak their native languages at home or even at work.
There are governmental and non-governmental organizations to support and control immigrants in the country. For example, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2018), as a part of the US Department of Homeland Security, aims at administrating the immigration system, protecting Americans, and defining immigrants’ needs. According to the Refugee Resettlement Program, immigrants became able to identify themselves as refugees and apply for new opportunities.
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In this way, in 2018, approximately 22,500 citizens of Congo, Ukraine, and Bhutan were resettled in America (Radford, 2019). They explained their desire to live in the U.S. because of unstable political or economic situations in their countries and intentions to protect their lives and help their children. For a long period, men were the most legal immigrants in the country because of the necessity to earn money. In the 20th century, women joined the wave of migration. They were females aged between 15 and 35 who came to the U.S. as spouses, other relatives, refugees, and non-labor workers (Donato & Gabaccia, 2016). With time, demographics of migrants and reasons for immigration changed.
Immigration During the 1600s’ and in the 21st Century
The first cases of U.S. immigration were reported during the 1600s. Orchowski (2015) considered the facts that America was a nation of immigrants from its beginning or that America was the place where people found out freedoms as myths. However, migration to North America predisposed religious freedoms, including about 100 migrants in 1620 who defined themselves as the Pilgrims and settled their colony in present-day Plymouth, MA, to avoid persecution in Europe (Stockman, 2019). More than 20,000 European Puritans migrated to the same regions because of the same reasons (Stockman, 2019).
It was a symbolic exchange between the representatives of the New World and the Old World in animals, plants, and even diseases (White, 2018). In addition to such necessary crops like rice and sugar cane, Native Americans faced new diseases (smallpox and malaria). Because of unstable economic situations, many Europeans traveled to the United States with the only purpose to pay for their debts, but the price of the journey was high, and these travelers became servants without even landing.
The Colonial Period changed the idea of migration in many ways, including the conditions under which European and the citizens of Africa came to the U.S. American independence from England between the 1600s and the 1800s contributed to the growth of black slaves’ migration from West Africa. During the first waves of immigration, many health-related and social problems occurred, and disorganization of migrants led to high mortality rates among native citizens. The peculiarity of immigration during the 1600s and the 1700s was the fact that the majority of slaves were never registered as immigrants but as cargo in a slave ship (Orchowski, 2015).
They came to the U.S. involuntary, no payments for their work were given, and the conditions under which they lived were terrible. The conditions of immigration in the 1600s were far from those modern people know as the American Dream. After their emancipation at the end of the 1800s, all freed slaves and their families were defined as US full citizens according to the Amendments to the US Constitution (Orchowski, 2015). Attitudes towards the idea of U.S. immigrations were changed, and people found new causes to visit the country.
Every new political or social event in the world was another reason for U.S. immigration. The period of industrialization and urbanizations attracted more than 20 million immigrants to the country (Stockman, 2019). However, the following Depression resulted in its considerable decline, with only 4 million immigrants entering the American land (Stockman, 2019). International trade, labor opportunities, and infrastructure building were the causes of increased male migration (Donato & Gabaccia, 2016). In the middle of the 1900s (World War Second), more than half of all immigrants were Jewish from Europe (Orchowski, 2015).
Nowadays, the conditions of immigration changed, but the idea remains the same – people want to believe that the U.S. has more opportunities for them to offer compared to their native homes. The Trump policy to depart immigrants challenged many communities, opening new opportunities for Native Americans.
Government’s Attitudes Towards Immigration
The role of the government to control immigrants in the United States cannot be ignored. In 1790, the Naturalization Act was introduced to allow free white people of “good moral character” to become a citizen of the U.S. (White, 2018). In 1875, new “de jure” federal policies shaped immigration to appreciate the citizens of Europe (White, 2018). The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first example of immigration nationalization to control the flow of Chinese workers and their success compared to Native Americans (Stockman, 2019). The Immigration Act of 1891 was an attempt by the government to predict the growth of sickness and crimes in America because of immigrants, and, in 1924, nationality quotas were established.
The final regulation was introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 as the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the quota system according to which racial and ethnic groups were divided and favored. Since then, the number of immigrants increased 4-fold and continued growing (Stockman, 2019). Today, Trump’s executive order to forbid migration for the citizens of Yemen, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan was the first step to change the situation in the country.
Contributions of Immigrants to American Development
Immigration in the U.S. was a long and significant process that involved a number of people from different parts of the world. Therefore, some changes in society, politics, economy, and other spheres were expected. The creation of such organizations like the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services promotes safety and control over immigrants. It is not enough to check if the immigration system works fairly and supports the ideas of integrity and trust but to respect and strive for effectiveness and innovation (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2018). As a result, immigrants continue contributing to the development of the country.
The economy of the United States undergoes certain improvements with the number of immigrants being increased. For example, local economies are diversified due to new ideas, resources, and experiences being introduced in the country.
Some immigrants start their business, thus create new jobs and opportunities for the population and pay taxes. Radford (2019) discovered that more than 60% of Americans agree that immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents. The creation of a global market is another economic benefit of U.S. immigration. Additional GDP comes from regular international transactions and accruals to meet the integral needs of immigrants and their families. Students from different countries pursue their education goals and spend their money in the United States.
Community improvements can also be explained in terms of immigration in the country. Radford (2019) admitted that criminal conviction is one of the reasons for deportation for immigrants, and there were 295,000 cases in 2017. Regarding such harsh conditions and control, immigrants are less like to live against the law and commit crimes. In addition, immigrants are usually better motivated to achieve success in different fields compared to native citizens.
They create a line that should never be crossed and introduce the standards for development and innovation. Immigrants make the labor market move all the time and promote occupations at various levels due to their experience and desire to be involved in various affairs that can be paid. The exchange of knowledge and communication are the advantages that are not always available to other nations. Sometimes, Americans need help that does not require large investments and payments. In this case, the idea of a migrant to be hired with cheap salary demands is more attractive to an employer in comparison to the situation when a native citizen with a number of demands and expectations is invited for a job.
Finally, one of the evident contributions of immigrants to the United States is the possibility to share personal experiences, cultural beliefs, and traditions. America is a country with a number of ethnicities and races being united. In 2017, the U.S. observed more than one million immigrants from different countries: 126,000 Indians, 124,000 Mexicans, and 121,000 Chinese (Radford, 2019). All of them are the representatives of different cultures and religions, and their adaptation and acceptance of American traditions serve as a strong example of how diversity and respect should co-exist.
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Immigration is a unique opportunity for the country to expand its culture and identify new customs. It unites millions of people and makes America great and friendly. There are many ways to enrich the nation, discover new opportunities, and become famous. Still, the possibility to shelter and protect people is generous and remarkable, and the United States has already proved itself as a supporter of people regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity.
Consequences of Immigration in the United States
Along with a number of positive aspects of immigration in America, one should remember that any outside process is characterized by certain unpredictable and usually negative consequences. In this case, the development of international relationships and the possibility to migrate to the U.S. invite new people to the country and influence the locals. One of the most critical issues is a threat of overpopulation. The more people come to the country, the more places they need to live and work. They breathe in the air, feed, drink water, and pollute the air. Natural imbalance and the impossibility to restore all the necessary resources challenge Americans.
For example, in 2017, female immigrants gave birth to about 780,000 children in addition to 40 million immigrants already living in the U.S. (Radford, 2019). Demography increase promotes new diseases and health-related problems being developed, and the local population is not always ready for specific conditions. Illegal immigrants do neither report on their problems nor have money for treatment. As a result, new people bring new problems with no particular solutions to be made.
Many employers and the government may enjoy the possibility to hire cheap labor power and save their earnings. However, there is another side of immigration in this discussion. As soon as an immigrant finds a job in America, he or she may deprive a local citizen of this working opportunity. Inequalities and competitions with native-born workers lead to job losses and depressed wages (White, 2018). Immigrants are ready to work for lower salaries in comparison to local employees, and the employer prefers to hire someone with fewer demands and minimal expectations.
Therefore, immigration may contribute to dissatisfaction with working conditions among native citizens, low job growth, and the necessity of new supportive opportunities. Additional stressors, inequalities, and human rights violations are reported, and governmental or non-governmental organizations have to introduce new policies and social services to support both immigrants and locals.
During the last several years, American undergoes considerable changes in the attitudes of the government towards immigrants. President Trump explains his decision to impose some restrictions on immigration because of the threats of terrorism, assimilation, and changing culture (White, 2018). Under the presidency of Bush, about 2 million migrants were deported between 2001 and 2008, and Trump deported about 300,000 people in one year (Radford, 2019).
These steps can be explained by the presence of certain shortages of immigration in the U.S. Although millions of Americans support the intentions of the government to provide immigrants with equal opportunities and safe future, it is also necessary to think about the locals, their needs, and perspectives. Volunteers, refugee funds, and private organizations aim at supporting an immigrant in his or her intentions to improve the quality of life and get a chance to survive in this world. However, there are still many homeless Americans, desperate veterans, and insolvent employees who seek help and understanding. It is high time for America to set the priorities and think about its population.
Taking into consideration the results of this investigation and the analysis of the past and current situation in the United States, immigration remains a dilemma with a number of positive and negative consequences. Millions of people continue arriving at America to find out new employment opportunities, meet the American Dream, and promote safe and more or less healthy life.
It is impossible to stop migration in the U.S., but the government takes necessary steps to control this process, prevent a crisis, and avoid threats. Immigration may contribute to the economic development of the country, the search of bright minds, and the sources of innovation and improvements. At the same time, immigration promotes new reasons for inequality, disease transmission, and overpopulation. The existing benefits and shortages of immigration prove that America is a generous country at the international level, but more attention should be paid to the needs of the local population and the creation of better living and working conditions.
Donato, K. M., & Gabaccia, D. (2016). The global feminization of migration: Past, present, and future. Web.
Orchowski, M. S. (2015). The law that changed the face of America: The immigration and nationality act of 1965. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
Radford, J. (2019). Key findings about U.S. immigrants. Web.
Stockman, J. A. (2019). Coming to America: Regulatory oversight of United States immigration policies. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 66(3), 525-536. Web.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2018). About us. Web.
White, R. (2018). Immigration policy and the shaping of U.S. culture: Becoming America. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.