Immigration is among the most complex and controversial issues in the American political agenda today. A recent survey conducted by the United Nations (2013) indicated that the United States has the highest number of immigrants today than at any other time in its history compared to other developed countries. By 2013, U.S had 41.3 million immigrants (translating to 14% of the U.S population) which exceeds double the population in 1990 and quadruple the number during the last four and a half decades (Bhachu 25). This dramatic growth in the population of immigrants has raised debates among Americans in the recent years and thus influenced the government steps to increase restrictions on this issue. The significant questions being asked in the national debates are what are the socio-economic effects of immigration on the average Americans? Are the increased restrictions on legal immigration beneficial? American citizens have demonstrated different opinions on these two focal points while a considerably large number of stakeholders are uninvolved in the discussion nor do they provide a firm decision on the issue (Hanson 44). This essay aims at educating, engaging, and empowering the uninvolved population to participate in this critical discussion. It also highlights some of the merits and demerits of having immigrants in a country. Finally, the paper provides a just decision on the immigrants’ case in a country. The author argues that although immigrants have more positive socioeconomic impacts for the host countries than negatives, the increased restrictions on legal immigration are only beneficial to the average American but not to the Immigrant.
Immigration dates back to the 19th century when over 30 million foreigners arrived in the United States as slaves who used to work on the rich whites’ settlements and farms. Some of these slaves took the American nationality therefore becoming citizens by registration. Americans have welcomed them for four generations, and today the U.S is ranked as the host nation of majority immigrants in the world. Recent national surveys indicate that 50% of Americans feel that immigration is a widespread problem (Portes & Reuben 56). These findings correspond to estimations made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The data indicated that approximately 11.4 million people were unauthorized to be in the country in 2012 (Hanson 51). DHS later expressed its concerns that these high numbers of illegal immigrants were undermining the American Immigration System and was a disregard of the rule of law. However, following reforms of the immigration policies, the number of unauthorized immigrants has dropped steadily since 2013 (Schuck 12). More recently in the 2016 U.S presidential election, the subject of immigration was a critical area between the two presidential candidates, Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. The two candidates had different perspectives on this problem, and their supporters shared conflicting standpoints on the issue. The past election period demonstrated how critical this issue was as it influenced the voting decisions of several Americans. In fact, the results of a survey done by the Pew Research Centre indicated that 70% of Americans voted immigration as the third top voting issue in the 2016 elections after terrorism and the economy. The findings of the study also established that immigration was most critical among Latino voters than economy.
Immigration is a challenging but a significant subject because it impacts on several aspects of the average American’s life including employment, unemployment and wages, population, governance and the economic growth. These are some of the vital elements that affect how individuals and the government operate and thus cannot be ignored (Hanson 34). Although several reports have indicated that the question of immigration reduces the employment rate of local workers in the country, existing evidence suggests that immigration also increases job opportunities and wages for individuals who retain their job positions. Increased fees translate to a rise in the payroll tax contributions, revenue and eventually the nation’s GDP grows. From a business management perspective, increased GDP means increased economic growth (Bhachu 29). It is clear that there is a need for participation of all stakeholders in this discussion as the issue in question affects the lives of several people and that of our future generations. Furthermore, the involvement of all stakeholders in critical decisions such as this one is the key to democracy’s peaceful coexistence. Participation by all stakeholders will also help them to be more versed in all affairs related to immigration including security concerns and crime raised by the Trump administration during his campaign for the presidency.
The increased restrictions on legal immigration influences harsh treatment of immigrants, which calls for action not only from the government but also from others in a position to influence the making of better policies and a fair immigration system. According to Enchautegui (2013), the current immigration system and policies have left several broken families who are separated across national borders. These families lack assurance of whether they will ever be reunited again (Enchautegui 13). As much as these actions question the moral choices of the current laws, it also impacts the economy of a nation. For example, a separated family lacks the aspect of permanency and thus may not make housing, educational, and financial investments in the United States (Bhachu 34). The individual who may be in the U.S under a working visa chooses to send all of his earnings to the family that he or she has left in their parent country consequently making no real investments while in the United States. Although the Congress has already taken the initiative and it is discussing immigration reforms and how the policies impact the country’s economic goals, there is need for everyone involved in decision making process, to actively participate and take appropriate action.
In conclusion, immigrants have more positive than negative impacts on the host countries. Majority of modern day immigrants are individuals who seek to improve their lives therefore they move to developed countries to seek better opportunities. This results to creation of job opportunities that not only help the immigrants themselves but the citizens of that country (U.S). It also concludes that the increased restrictions on legal immigration are not adequately shaped and are biased as they only work in favor of the citizens.The arguments of this essay suggest that stakeholdersinvolvement, informed decision making and steady governance of immigration can maximize its positive impacts.The positive effects of immigration by far outweigh its’ negative implication toan average citizen. It is about time that all Americans began to judge the influence of something based on evidence rather than on their opinions and perspectives. Therefore, there is a need to continually adjust the current immigration policies and systems to adapt to the ever-changing economic conditions.
- Bhachu, P. (Ed.). Immigration and entrepreneurship: culture, capital, and ethnic networks. Routledge. 2017.
- Enchautegui, E.M. Broken Immigration Policy: Broken Families. 2013.
- Hanson, Gordon H. “Why does immigration divide America? Public finance and political opposition to open borders.” 2017.
- Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 2016 Campaign: Strong Interest Widespread Dissatisfaction.
- Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. Immigrant America: a portrait. Univ of California Press, 2006.
- Schuck, Peter. Citizens, strangers, and in-betweens: Essays on immigration and citizenship. Routledge, 2018.