Immigration, which is the movement of individuals from one geopolitical area to another for social, economic, or political reasons, has become prevalent in the 21st century. This pervasiveness has led to a number of issues that have caused governments to implement policies aimed at mitigating it. When coming up with the policies on immigration, policymakers consider its positive and negative impacts. Most people move from their home country to a new country out of economic considerations.
In economic terms, immigration is considered to have a mostly positive impact on both the host country and immigration. However, its social impact has mostly been perceived as unfavorable, especially by the citizens of the host country. This paper seeks to explain why immigration is considered a social issue and how it affects both the host country and the immigrants.
Social Effects of Immigration on Host Country
Immigration has a negative impact on the social fabric by undermining community cohesion. Immigration entails the introduction of foreigners into the local populace. In some cases, these foreigners belong to groups that are socially, culturally, and linguistically distant from the Caucasian majority in the US.
While some immigrants are keen to adopt the mainstream culture and way of life, others desire to preserve their unique cultures. Gouveia admits that there is an unwillingness to assimilate into the local culture by some immigrants (212). This refusal to assimilate has led to the creation of many new ethnic areas in major US cities over the past three decades. This is a threat to national cohesion in the US.
The social resources in the US are overburdened by the huge influx of immigrants. The government is expected to provide some social services to its citizens. The services include education, healthcare, and social welfare that is delivered to the less fortunate members of society.
The immigrant population makes use of these services even though some of them do not contribute to the country’s economy by paying taxes. Since most immigrants earn lower wages compared to US citizens and suffer from frequent unemployment, they frequently utilize welfare services (Sladkova and Mandago 79). This high use of social welfare by immigrants is considered a major burden by US taxpayers.
Immigration has led to increased feelings of insecurity among citizens in developed countries such as the US. Over the past two decades, links have emerged between immigration and terrorism. This link was best highlighted during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where foreigners played a major role. US citizens are, therefore, concerned that immigration introduces security threats to the country.
Many European and American electorates identify immigration as a threat to their security (Lahav and Courtemanche, 480). Most Americans feel that illegal immigration can increase the likelihood of terrorism. The increase in immigration levels has, therefore, contributed to the rise in feelings of insecurity among US citizens. Concerns about the security threats caused by immigrants have led to calls for greater curtailment of immigration in the US (Lahav and Courtemanche 480).
Effect on the Immigrants
Immigrants are exposed to racism and stereotyping in the host country. The local population mostly perceives immigrants as aliens due to their different cultures or racial identities. The lack of understanding might cause the locals to stereotype the immigrants or subject them to racism.
Immigrants and their children experience ethnic stigmatization, racial biases, and discrimination at school and the larger society. There is evidence that migrants from ethnic backgrounds around the world face some level of racism and prejudice in the US. Naser notes that Arab immigrants are the biggest victims of racism and intolerance (260). Racism and prejudices are increased by media stereotyping of various ethnic groups.
In addition to this, immigrants are affected by the loss of family ties when they move to the host nation. In many cases, individuals move to a foreign country in search of a better life. They leave their families behind and plan to reunify with them after they are settled in the US. However, this reunification is not easy to achieve since the US is curbing down on immigrants.
Gouveia highlights the case of the Latino community, where immigration policies and enforcement efforts keep families separated (217). In this case, US immigration policies lead to family separations as immigrant workers are not allowed to legally bring their spouses to the US or visit them regularly.
The last decade has seen an upsurge in deportation incidents all across the US. This has been caused by the desire of some states to tighten controls over immigration through punitive enforcements. Deportation has a negative social impact on immigrants as they live in constant fear. According to Sladkova and Mandago, these fear leads to mistrust of anyone the immigrants believe may collaborate with governmental institutes that enforce deportation (83).
In addition to this, the people sent back to their home country suffer economically and socially. In some cases, the immigrants were born in the US or have lived in the country for many years and therefore do not know about the culture or language of their country of origin. Sladkova and Mandago reveal that such immigrants suffer from issues such as homelessness and unemployment when they get to their country of origin following deportation (83).
Deportation might involve some members of the family being sent away while the rest are left in the US. The family might be left without crucial income or childcare. This leads to a dire situation, especially for children who can be left parentless. Such children suffer negative mental outcomes following parental deportation (Allen, Cisneros, and Tellez 386). They are negatively affected by the emotional stress and feelings of being abandoned by the parents who disappear without warning.
Researchers agree that immigrants play a crucial role in the economic prosperity of the country by providing needed labor resources. However, the social impact of this activity is mostly negative. From the literature reviewed in this paper, it is evident that US citizens perceive immigrants as a social problem.
The immigrants fragment the social cohesion of the country and cause a strain on social resources. At the same time, they augment insecurity by increasing the likelihood of terrorism. On the other hand, immigrants face a myriad of social issues while in the US. To begin with, they suffer from racial biases and discriminations in the country. They are also affected by family separation and the adverse impacts of deportation.
I agree with the results of the research on the social impacts of immigration on the US and the immigrants. There are immigrants who choose to maintain their local cultures and tradition in spite of settling in the US, and this causes fragmentation. The loyalty of such immigrants to the US is questionable, for they insist on being recognized by their traditional cultures. I also agree with the view that immigrants have suffered from a number of social difficulties while in the US.
The lack of cultural understanding has led to stereotyping, and the implementation of stringent migration policies has caused many families to be separated. The upsurge in deportation has had a negative economic and psychological impact on the immigrant population. As it currently stands, the social impact of immigration is mostly negative, and it is promoting the negative outlook on immigration by many people in the country.
The research in this paper confirms that immigration is a major social issue. It has a deleterious effect on both the immigrants and the US. Solving the social problem is critical to ensuring that immigration continues to be a positive phenomenon for the country and the immigrants involved. One way of solving the problem is by encouraging bilingual education in the country. This strategy will ensure that immigrants do not feel isolated from their traditional culture.
It will also encourage integration into society leading to greater social cohesion. Another solution is to reform the immigration policies in order to include many of the illegal immigrants into the legal workforce. This will reduce the social burden that immigrants cause while increasing their contribution to government revenues through taxations.
Immigration reforms will also reduce the number of deportations of immigrants from the US. Racism and stereotyping can be decreased by encouraging people to learn about different cultures and ethnic groups. Greater cultural understanding will lead to tolerance and less discrimination. Implementing these solutions will ensure that immigration becomes a positive phenomenon for the country and the immigrants involved.
Allen, Brian, Erica Cisneros and Alexandra Tellez. “The Children Left Behind: The Impact of Parental Deportation on Mental Health.” Journal of Child & Family Studies 24.2 (2015): 386-392. Web.
Gouveia, Lourdes. “The Research-Policy Gap on Latino Immigrant Issues: Impacts and New Directions on Social Policy: A Conclusion.” Journal of Social Issues 66.1 (2010): 211-222. Web.
Lahav, Gallya and Marie Courtemanche. “The Ideological Effects of Framing Threat on Immigration and Civil Liberties.” Political Behavior 34.3 (2012): 477-505. Print.
Naser, Abed. “Older Arab migrants in Australia: Between the hammer of prejudice and the anvil of social isolation.” Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession 46.2 (2014): 259-262. Web.
Sladkova, Jana and Sandra Mandago. “Lowell Immigrant Communities in the Climate of Deportations.” Analyses of Social Issues & Public Policy 12.1 (2012): 78-95. Print.