Since first European settlers, the United States of America has been always considered as the country of immigrants. Throughout the course of the history of the USA, the international immigration has been playing a crucial role for the economic development of the country as well as for the formation of foreign and domestic policy. During the relatively short history, the USA has gathered the solid experience in the regulation of the immigration policy.
It is possible to distinguish several periods of immigration, each of which is characterized by its peculiar features. The framework for the conditional division of the immigration periods of the USA is the principle of the legal regulation of the American immigration policy by the government. In the process of evolution, the immigration policy has risen through the ranks from the total absence of any restriction on an entrance into the country of new immigrants up to the strict control and regulations by the government of the whole stream of immigrants. Nowadays the American immigration law is one of the most complicated domains of legal relations, which is constantly being complemented by making various amendments and revisions.
The immigration debate in the USA has always been a stumbling block. According to the data from the United States Bureau of Census, every 33 seconds a new immigrant arrives in the country. The majority of them are law-abiding persons. Nevertheless, it is quite natural that the most recent national survey has found out that many citizens are bent upon such a large flow of immigrants.
In spite of numerous advantages provided by immigrants to the development of the USA, the problem of illegal immigration is the reason for serious debates. It must be admitted that the American immigration policy has not managed to stop the stream of undocumented immigrants. Those people who are trying to illegitimate cross the frontier, especially in the areas bordering with Mexica, expose themselves to high risks. It leads to various violations of human rights and humiliation on ineligible foreigners. In some regions of the United States, the illegal immigration promotes job losses and the reduction of wages for native inhabitants.
However, the majority of economists are apt to think that immigration yields benefit to the economy of the United States. It must be admitted that some social groups may meet with severe losses because of the illegal immigration. The hostile sentiment towards immigrants is emphasized by the feeling of social vulnerability in many residential places and by the increased in criminality in boundary states.
According to the Pew Hispanic Centre, “40.4 million immigrants live in the U.S., representing 13 percent of the population. More than 18 million are naturalized citizens, 11 million are legal permanent or temporary residents, and more than 11 million are in the country without legal permission” (Hallowell par.5).
As a rule, in public conscience the illegal immigration is usually associated with descendants from Latin America. It may be explained by the fact that many immigrants illegally arrive in the country through the Mexican border.
Moreover, the Hispanic population is the largest national-linguistic minority in the USA. They are the representatives of two groups. The first one, which is very small, is represented by the descendants of the Spanish, who had been living north of Rio Grande before the Mexican-American War when a half of the Mexican territory was annexed by the USA. The rest of them are the descendants of the immigrants from Latin America.
Nowadays the attitude towards immigrants from Latin America is very controversial. With regard to various economic difficulties, the local inhabitants consider immigrants as invaders who steal their jobs. Sometimes immigrants are even associated with criminals and terrorists. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 54 million of the Hispanics who live in the USA (Escarce, Morales, and Rumbaut, 2006).
In such cities as, Los-Angeles, San Antonio and Miami, the Hispanics constitute an absolute or relative majority of the population. Moreover, due to the illegal immigration and the natural population growth Hispanic communities become more and more numerous.
At the same time, many economists recognize the economic benefits provided by immigrants. As a rule, immigrants are involved in such occupations that are neglected by the local population, either because of the low salaries or because of the lack of professionalism. As distinct from the local inhabitants, immigrants are satisfied with lesser wages. Sometimes “immigrants are seen as better workers by some employers, especially in comparison to native-born African Americans” (Camarota 5).
This fact gives domestic producers the opportunity to cheapen the production, and in such a way to be competitive on the world market. The main scopes of activities in which immigrants are involved includes industrial production, trade, entertainment industry and service. At the same time, it must be admitted that there is a group of immigrants consisting of a highly skilled professionals who deal with engineering, medicine and informational technologies.
It goes without saying that they are legal immigrants who have been hired by native employers and have been given certain privileges. The typical example of it is the Silicon Valley – the world known centre of high-tech corporations that deal with highly developed technologies. There is the prevailing opinion that the Silicon Valley owes its existence to immigrants.
Nevertheless, this situation is considered to be as solitary instance, and the debates in American society is mainly connected with the illegal immigration. These debates lead to the creation of political coalitions that except for immigration do not deal with other subjects. The existing level of immigration meets the demands of big corporations and enterprises that fatten on the cheap labour. At the same time, there are those who strive for reducing streams of immigrants considering that illegal immigrants constitute a menace to the American culture and deprive the native inhabitants of jobs. The illegal immigration causes conflicts between adherers of the free market and conservatives.
This problem is especially vital during elections of any kind. Practically each political party tries to extract a political mileage from the speculation on the immigration problem. Moreover, “immigrants are being used as political pawns and scapegoats in the wake of America’s economic crisis and upcoming elections” (Copper and Lopez 4).
Three have been numerous attempts of the US government to resolve the problem. The Federal Government with all the possible ways tries to enforce immigration laws. The raids on farms and factories aiming audits of employers who hire undocumented immigrants are an everyday occurrence. Apart from this, the sharing of information between different states about illegal immigrants has increased. There have been implemented various biometric sharing programs aiming the identification of immigrants with a criminal history. Moreover, there have been undertaken many attempts of the statutory regulation of the increasing number of immigrants.
Thus the Congress of the United States has made an attempt to adjust the 14th Amendment of the Constitution which “provides that all persons born in the United States are U.S. citizens, regardless of their parents’ citizenship” (Copper and Lopez 5). It is considered that this revocation of the birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants will significantly reduce the unauthorized population. It goes without saying that this amendment has been severely criticized by human rights advocates.
At the present moment after the failed attempts of President George Bush to reform the immigration policy these efforts are undertaken by Obamas administration. Barack Obama is a son of immigrants from Kenya. During his presidential election campaign, he has been advocating for the permission to illegal immigrants to stay in the United States upon the condition that they would agree to pay the fine and to study English.
It is considered that Obama has won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 presidential elections due to his position concerning immigrants. In June 2012 President Obama announced that “the federal government would no longer deport undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of sixteen and were younger than thirty at the time of the announcement, had been in the country for five continuous years, and had no criminal history” (Renwick and Lee par.14). Taking into consideration all the circumstances and the complexness of this problem it is clear that the questions concerning immigration will be debated for a rather long time in the country that has been created by immigrants.
Camarota, Steven. The Impact of Immigration on American Workers, 2003. Web.
Copper, James and Yvette Lopez. The Third Rail of U.S. Politics The Current Immigration Debate in the United States, 2011. Web.
Escarce, Jose, Leo Morales and Ruben Rumbaut. The Health Status and Health Behaviors of Hispanics, 2006. Web.
Hallowell, Billy. Americas Immigration Debate: Everything You Need to Know About Stats, History and Proposals for Reform, 2013. Web.
Renwick, Danielle and Briana Lee. The U.S. Immigration Debate, 2015. Web.