Data derived from the Census Bureau shows that the U.S. is home to 47 million immigrants as of 2015, which represents 14.4% of the U.S. population and 19.1% of the 244 million international migrants worldwide (Liebler et al. 260). In this case, immigration to the U.S. is defined as the international movement of non U.S natives into the United States to reside, settle, study, or work illegally or legally in the United States. It is a phenomenon which has been a major source of the population as well as cultural growth throughout the country’s history. However, the phenomenon has continually been viewed in a negative light, especially since it is perceived that the presence of immigrants brings unfairness in the sharing of national resources. In retrospect, it has supported the growth of the country’s economy by contributing to the entrepreneur growth in the country while undertaking essential activities such as forming customer bases and paying taxes just like the other citizens. Despite these positives about immigration, the current leadership, as well as prior ones in the country, has been devoted to enforcing restriction and firm policies against the phenomenon. Not only has immigration enforcement increased but also restrictions on legal immigration and refugee settlement. These actions are aimed at reducing the current rate of immigration into the United States.
The Current Immigration System in the U.S.
Studies in the workings of the U.S. immigration law have shown that it is very complex. Additionally, there is a lot of confusion regarding the workings of the law. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) governs the current immigration policies in the U.S. Annually, a limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants is allowed by the INA (Enchautegui 38). Foreigners with a lawful permanent residency can lawfully reside and work in the U.S. In spite of joblessness in the U.S., the lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are entitled for all jobs except for those restricted to U.S. citizens. They can also reside in the country. Also, the U.S. also allows migration to it on a provisional basis every year. Also, the U.S. president as well as the Congress has the privilege of allowing the migration of refugee. Therefore, the present immigration system of the country in question involves the following principles: endorsing diversity, allowing the migration of people with distinctive skills that may be of importance to the U.S. economy, the reconsolidation of families, not forgetting the defense of refugees. For example, family unification is one of the major principles that stipulate the governing of the U.S immigration policy. Indeed, this part of the policy allows for U.S. citizens as well as the LPRs to invite certain members of their families to the U.S. These family members are admitted as immediate relatives or family preference system. However, they have to meet set eligibility criteria, such as being, parents, and unmarried children of U.S. citizens (must be under 21 years old) (LaRue 1). The other principles such as the adaptation of refugees, as well as adaptation of people with desirable skills follow similar measures.
The following table summarizes the family-based immigration system
|Category||U.S. Sponsor||Relationship||Numerical Limit|
|Immediate Relatives||U.S. Citizen adults||Spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents||Unlimited|
|1||U.S. citizen||Unmarried adult children||23,400|
|2A||LPR||Spouses and minor children||87,900|
|2B||LPR||Unmarried adult children||26,300|
|3||U.S. citizen||Married adult children||23,400|
|4||U.S. citizen||Brothers and Sisters||65,000|
|Unused visa are given consideration|
Source: American Immigration Service
The social policy, as well as some of its provisions, is challenging, notwithstanding the inclusiveness of the U.S. immigration structure. Today’s immigration system differs from its predecessor in two key respects. On one hand, factors such as the falling cost of international travel, changing technology and decades of previous immigration flows have made the US immigration system more complex and harder to control than during the last great wave of migration (1890-1920) or after the initial subsequent years after World War Two during which the acting legislative structure was made. On the other hand, the early immigration legislation encompassed a system whereby most immigrants entered the country as legal permanent residents with ample opportunities to contribute to their communities and on a predictable path whereas recent immigration restrictions have led to the system being critically out of alignment with the country’s interest in immigration policy. As such, the modern immigration system has failed in ensuring that the country can attract and retain legal permanent immigrants who can contribute the much needed valuable human resources, which come with the integration of skillful workers in the United States without necessarily causing negative impacts for the native workers.
From the above postulation, it is evident that the immigration system has been ineffective in reducing the number of immigrants and those entering the U.S illegally. This system has led to the opportunities for the constraining of legal entry, which has led to an increase in free migratory flow. Additionally, the trend has resulted in undocumented immigrants who are unable to get out of the country since their lack of necessary documents can lead to them being convicted. Such may result in the occurrence of floating populations whereby some immigrants live among the U.S citizens but avoid taking part in census since it could likely lead to them being exposed and hence being deported. Additionally, the U.S. immigration system, via the 14th amendment, stipulates that anyone born in US territory is a US citizen, regardless of the nationality or legal status of their parents. Indeed, the law causes problems in documenting and nationalizing children born to undocumented immigrants, especially those born to floating populations. Moreover, unaccompanied minors, who are children coming to the country by themselves to reunite with their families, have little chances of being assimilated into the U.S system and hence end up forming the floating population (Enchautegui 48). As such, there exist children who have been born in the U.S., grown up in the U.S., but are not considered to be U.S. citizens and hence cannot access the basic infrastructure which is easily accessed by their counterparts, the native’s children. This phenomenon has led to imbalanced social infrastructure, which encompasses a lot of unfairness especially for the children born to the undocumented immigrants.
The current immigration system in the U.S might not work due to some reasons which include the change in demographics necessitate the use of a different system rather than the one made on 1952-1965 with the primary goal of allowing nuclear family reunification. Also, the change in technology requires to the use of a different system rather than the one used during the hither years which did not encompass much technology. The immigration system should also focus on how to address the issue of the undocumented inflow of immigrants who have rendered the immigration system to be rendered ineffective (LaRue 2). As such, it is recommended that three things should be addressed. Foremost, there should be changes to the permanent and temporary admissions systems to promote the recruitment and retention of the immigrants who can contribute greatly to the U.S. economy. Secondly, changes to the institutional and regulatory structures that govern the integration and employment of immigrants within the United States to minimizing possible costs of migration while ensuring that immigrants make the largest possible contribution to the U.S. economy should be instituted. Lastly, changes to immigration control policies should be effected and hence have a renewed emphasis on using immigration as a convenient tool of foreign policy.
What the Government Should Do With the 11 million Undocumented Population Living in the Country
With respect to the issue of the irregular/undocumented/floating population living in the country, it is noted that there have been heated debates between the people who advocate for the illegal immigrants (about 11 million) to be given a chance at citizenship and those who are against the idea. Indeed, citizenship should be accorded in a fair way, which will not reward illegal immigrants with a U.S. citizenship, especially if the broke the law when gaining entrance into the country. As such, background checks should be conducted on each immigrant to establish his or her means of the entrance as well as whether the immigrant has family attachments in the U.S. In a scenario whereby it is established that the immigrant broke the law by knowingly entered the U.S. via informal means, then that immigrant should be deported. Also, there are different generations of immigrants in the U.S. An individual’s life analysis should be done to offer special attention to people who are born in the U.S. because the children of immigrants in the United States should be allowed citizenship because it is socially wrong for a person born in the U.S. to be deported without being given further consideration. Moreover, amnesty ought to be granted to the illegal aliens who are the most deserving. In essence, those who are granted the amnesty should have to earn it, for instance, good behavior. This approach can be attained by implementing a crucial strategy which is through the registry. Additionally, immigrants who are recognized to have lived in the U.S. continuously for more than a decade should be assessed to check whether they have criminal records if they have contributed economically to the country and whether they have any links to extreme issues, such as terrorism. If it is established that those registered individuals have the desired records, then they can be given the U.S. citizenship. In this case, the existing immigrants will not have it easy becoming U.S. citizens nor will the approaching act as a catalyst for more immigrants to seek entry into the U.S. illegally. Lastly, the above approaches will only work if the porosity of the U.S. borders is reduced effectively. To the government ought to minimize the areas through which immigrants can enter into the U.S. even if it entails contracting physical walls. Because the government must do so because it would be unfruitful to address the existing 11 million illegal immigrants in the country while others are still entering informally (LaRue 3).
It is recommended that the U.S. implements measures to stop undocumented migration more effectively to address the issue of unauthorized/irregular migration. Strengthening border security is one of these measures. The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by George W. Bush, saw to the construction of 652 miles of fences along the country’s Southern borders. As such, more should be done to increase physical barriers at the U.S borders to discourage uncontrolled immigration. Also, Border Patrol agents should be increased to meet the cases of illegal entrances into the U.S. Additionally, technologically-advanced tools such as sensors, drones, and cameras should be installed strategically to hinder unauthorized entrance into the U.S. Additionally, the governments of the United States can make illegals Self-Deport by making it extremely hard for undocumented individuals to receive basic services. In as much as the U.S. should be humane when dealing with illegal immigrants, their breaking the law and entering and living in the U.S should be discouraged. Since deporting 11 million individual would require a lot of funds, measures should be implemented to make it impossible for individuals to access any service or employment without proof of citizenship or registration. The government can also improve Work Visa Program. In this case, it should be noted that not every illegal immigrant comes to the U.S. illegally. In recent times, almost half of the illegal immigrants come through legal work visa but overstay after their visa has expired. Hence, the government should implement programs, which should track such individuals and deport them to their home countries. This approach avoids much drama and will be very effective in reducing the number of future illegal immigrants.
Rationale of the Above Measures
The above measures are geared towards addressing the issue of illegal immigration. Strengthening border security, making Illegals self-deport, and improving Work Visa programs are feasible strategies, which will not over-cost the government. Additionally, they are strategies that will take a short period to be implemented. Lastly, the use of the registry program in giving immigrants will have the effect of making the aliens to attain citizenship in a legal and fair way while discouraging new immigrants due to the program’s long waiting period. In essence, the U.S. should simply act in a tough and humane way which will discourage people from even thinking of illegally entering the country.
Potential Collateral Consequences of the Policies Proposed
The proposed policies are expected to have some negative consequences. First, the U.S. advocates for family unification. However, this principle is likely to be violated if the government take intense measures in deporting some of the illegal immigrants such as the people who do not qualify for earned legalization measures (LaRue 3). Also, the strategy of making life very hard in the U.S for this group of people by making it impossible for it to obtain services or employment might not lead to people self-deporting but might lead to increased homeless individuals in the U.S. In this case, the government will have solved a problem by creating a worse one. Increased patrol at the border is also likely to lead to bodily harm to individuals who might be entering the U.S. illegally. However, this is very acceptable since the affected individuals will be breaking the law and hence such will serve as a deterrence for people who might wish to enter the U.S. illegally.
From the above postulation, it is apparent that issue of illegal immigration in the U.S. is somewhat complicated. Indeed, the present immigration system in the U.S. is complex and ineffective, and hence it has not been addressing the immigration problem that affects the country. Therefore, there is a need to encapsulate some changes in the immigration system to address contemporary trends in immigration. As such, taking the advocated measures will go a long way in stemming the problem of illegal immigration in the United States of America.
American Immigration Council. “How the united states immigration.” 2016. https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/how-united-states-immigration-system-works
Enchautegui, María E., and Cecilia Menjívar. “Paradoxes of family immigration policy: Separation, reorganization, and reunification of families under current immigration laws.” Law & Policy 37.1-2 (2015): 32-60.
LaRue, Hunter. “Susan J. Terrio: Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody.” (2017): 1-3.
Liebler, Carolyn A., et al. “America’s Churning Races: Race and Ethnicity Response Changes Between Census 2000 and the 2010 Census.” Demography 54.1 (2017): 259-284.
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