26 March 2012
Leading Views of Immigration
Immigration is an old problem for the United States but is far from an insignificant one. Many Americans worry about the cultural and economic effects of immigration. This is a topic that divides Americans on how to negotiate a solution on this situation. For those who agree with deportation as a solution, approximately half of those people are in favor of a temporary work program. Debates still continue over the positive and negative effects of immigration along with a variety of solutions.
The United States has a long history with immigration. Between 1881 and 1924, the First Great Migration occurred with 25.8 million persons entering the country. In response, Congress enacted the National-Origins Quota System, establishing set parameters for individual regions of the globe, such as restricting immigration from the Eastern Hemisphere to one hundred fifty thousand individuals. As a result, only half a million individuals immigrated to the United States during the 1930s. Since then, the number of legal immigrants has increased at the rate of approximately one million people per decade. The 1965 Amendments to the Immigration and National Act repealed the natural-origin restrictions, increased the number of available visas, and made family ties to United States residents a determining factor for applicants entering the country. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) granted amnesty to three million illegal aliens and introduced a system of employer sanctions designed to stem the flow of additional illegal workers. The 1990 Immigration Act permits the entry of an additional one hundred fifty thousand legal immigrants, regardless of origin, annually.
Immigration from a country can be defined by five factors: (a) the difference in real wages between the country and the United States; (b) the rate of population growth in the country twenty or thirty years before; (c) the degree of industrialization and urbanization in the home country; (d) the volume of previous immigrants from that country or region; and (e) economic and political conditions in the United States.
Upon their arrival, immigrants have the opportunity to achieve the American dream. These individuals will, more often than not, take lower paying jobs than average Americans will. In doing so, immigrants still earn more than they would in their native country. Immigrants in the workforce allow certain products and services to maintain a lower price standard due to the lower wages that would otherwise have not been possible with the employment of Americans. The immigration process also opens the door to highly-educated, highly-skilled individuals who may have not had the opportunities in their native countries, further enhancing America’s reputation as the Land of Opportunity. This opportunity gives struggling individuals from all over the world the chance for a better life.
On the economic front, either legal or illegal, pay taxes on items purchased and property taxes indirectly. In turn, the money earned by these individuals is then returned to the economy, benefitting local businesses and individuals. This return of investment is significant, especially in an underachieving economy. Although difficult to calculate, economic growth in the United States due to immigration can be measured at roughly one percent of GDP, or approximately thirteen billion dollars.
Immigration negatively affects a country economically and socially. Immigrants create competition from lower class citizens who would normally have their jobs. Immigrants can also be hired because they will accept being underpaid. In the past few years, the United States has had an unemployment rate of around ten percent. Despite this, one million immigrants have been given jobs and thirty-five percent of those immigrants were illegal. This is because employers are looking for cheap help, which is