The Undocumented Immigrants in the United States

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The regulation and managing migration are the up-to-day issues in the industrial and well-developed countries. While economic growth encourages the borders’ openness, the political, legal, and security institutions claim for the importance of the migration’s strict control.

Throughout history, the USA’s high level of development appealed to many people who passed its borders pursuing a better life. The level of immigration in the USA is one of the highest in the world. The strict rules and the stringent border regulations push foreigners to illegal migration.

Nowadays, there are over ten million unauthorized migrants reside on the territory of the country, and the increased public hostility towards immigrants indicates the lack of positive results in the current immigration policies and proves that the legal and political changes are required for problem-solving.

The Problems Caused by the Undocumented Immigration

The level of immigration increased in the 20th century due to the technological breakthrough, globalization, and the multiple international conflicts. The huge number of immigrants in the population of the United States proves the attractiveness of the country’s policies and economy to foreigners, especially those from the undeveloped and undemocratic states.

“There are three major types of foreigners in the United States: front-door immigrants, side-door temporary visitors, and back-door unauthorized” (Hollifield, Martin, and Orrenius 48). Legal immigration is encouraged by the government.

The USA welcomes the “highly educated individuals with backgrounds in science, engineering, and information technology,” because the hiring of the skilled international workforce has a positive impact on the economic and technological development (Kane and Johnson 3).

The temporary immigrants are primarily international students and guest workers. A big amount of foreign students stay in the country after graduation and work there. There are many guest worker programs in the US policy that give permission for employers to hire foreigners legally.

Nevertheless, the guest workers create controversy in the society because of the common idea of their harmfulness for the economy and overtaking the US citizens’ workplaces.

The third category of immigrants that is comprised of undocumented residents is the most problematic one. The condemnation of the illegal immigration by the public provokes the response from the government that lies in the strengthening of the controlling measures. Despite the attempts of the government to put an end to the unauthorized immigration, the rate of undocumented aliens stays high.

According to the recent estimates, “more than 10 million undocumented aliens currently reside in the U.S., and that population is growing by 700,000 per year” (Kane and Johnson 1). The high level of illegal immigration creates for the country a certain amount of difficulties of various kinds.

The main threats of unauthorized immigration are the disrupting of the legal and security policies. The impossibility to meet the strengthened documentation verification and the authorization requirements for work made the undocumented migrant workers go underground. The whole situation encourages “the culture of illegality” (Kane and Johnson 2).

The illegal migrants provoke the violations of law. The repetitiveness and regularity of the violations become a norm and create threats for the security. The presence of the migrants with the forged documents contributes to the formation of a favorable environment for the cover of the criminals and terrorists.

The increased rate of the undocumented immigrants in the USA provokes hostile moods in the society. A high percentage of immigrants come from Latin countries, especially from Mexico. The great amount of immigrants cannot become totally assimilated in American culture and stick to their own cultural heritage. Even though the cultural and ethnical diversity is usual for the USA, the cases of the racist attitudes and discrimination often take place in the society.

Another issue of immigration is integration. The specific feature of the American society is the tendency to individualism. The changes that took place in the American society and the variety of the liberating movements in the 20th century caused the separation of the old values and created a value of the individuality that is thriving in the society nowadays.

But many immigrants experience difficulties in trying to assimilate into the new individualistic culture. A great amount of the migrants regard themselves as members of the particular ethnic community, tradition, and they don’t want to give up their old culture yet they want to become US citizens. The inability of the complete assimilation and the loyalty to the homeland traditions creates the country’s multiculturalism.

The anti-discrimination policies in the USA are one of the most elaborated in the world. Nevertheless, the cases of discrimination often happen. With the increase of undocumented migrants’ rate, the public attitude became more intolerant towards the ethnic diversity.

About half of the US citizens support the anti-immigration movements. Even though the migrants belonging to the ethnic minorities can reside in the country legally, the presence of the unauthorized aliens affects their image negatively.

The issue of undocumented immigration is widely discussed in mass media. The television and newspapers contribute to the creation of the negative image of the illegal immigration. The undocumented migrants, especially Mexican ones, are regarded by the public as criminals.

Nowadays, the majority of American citizens support the construction of the wall along the Mexican borders (Kehaulani Goo par. 4). The social hostility towards immigrants puts pressure on the government and motivates the officials to implement the restrictive immigration policies.

The American public is divided in the opinions regarding the immigrants. Those citizens who are against immigration accuse them of taking jobs and services from the born-Americans and harming the economy. Another half of Americans consider that immigrants provoke the strengthening of the country “through hard work and talents” (Kehaulani Goo par. 5).

There is a widespread belief that immigration negatively affects the economy of the country and caused an increase in the unemployment rates. Nevertheless, the facts say against it. Nowadays, the American population consists of a high percentage of immigrants and yet the unemployment rates are lower than in the past, and the economy is stable and strong. The economic stability indicates that the immigration issues are rather political in their nature.

The Undocumented Immigrants in the USA

The regular method applied by the American government in an attempt to decrease the level of illegal immigration is deportation and the strict borders regulation. There always were limitations regarding the number of immigrants that the country is ready to admit.

Nevertheless, thousands of people manage to penetrate the country in spite of laws. The population of the undocumented aliens in the country is now as stable as ever. “By the beginning of the twenty-first century, 10 percent of low-wage workers in the United States were unauthorized immigrants” (Hollifield, Martin, and Orrenius 10).

The pursuit of paid work is the main purpose for the migrants to cross the borders of the USA. In comparison to such poor countries as Mexico, even the low-wage American work is more profitable than the average worker in Mexico.

While illegally entering the country, migrants face a lot of discrimination and enmity. The common stereotype says that the immigrants “don’t want to assimilate, they are a drain on society” (Vargas par. 11). Migrants also experience a great insecurity and cannot enjoy all the rights that usually the members of the American society have. Social exclusion is a part of the undocumented migrant reality.

The civil rights and the illegal immigration issues are deeply interconnected. In the USA, many undocumented immigrants consider themselves American citizens, especially those who were brought to the country in childhood.

They might have obtained the education in the USA and may respect the customs and culture, but there are not many options regarding obtaining a better job and the variety of services provided for them. Moreover, usually a migrant with the fake documents can’t freely lead a normal life because of the fear of disclosure and departure from the country.

In the two years of Obama’s administration over 800,000 unauthorized aliens were departed (Vargas par. 7). Because of the fear, they can’t trust anyone; they have to lie to their acquaintances, employers, and colleagues, can’t visit their relatives who live abroad or simply to travel.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration introduces some suggestions for the improvement of the unauthorized migrants’ hopeless situation. Those who were illegally brought to the country in childhood can become eligible.

To obtain the right to reside in the USA legally a person must meet a few requirements regarding the age, the level of education, the absence of the conviction of the felony or the significant misdemeanors, etc. (“Who and Where the DREAMers Are” par. 1).

The document is called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The majority of the Act’s potential beneficiaries are the Mexicans who are now settled in California.

The Political Issues of the Illegal Immigration

The USA is a settled nation that was established due to the colonization of the New World. The questions of immigration concern the American politicians since then. The main questions regard the number of immigrants, what status should they have, and where should they be from. Throughout history, the national immigration policies evolved and were exposed to numerous changes.

There were two major tendencies in the US immigration policy: expansive and restrictive. The policies of exclusion primarily took place in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era at the beginning of the 20th century (Tichenor 3).

The first immigration bureaucracy was created in 1891 with the adoption of the Immigration Act that also authorized the deportation of illegal immigrants. There were periods of severe restrictions on receiving migrants belonging to certain nations, beliefs, ideologies, or political views. For example, the Immigration Act of 1903 restricted the “anarchists” entry to the country, and the Immigration Act of 1917 forbade the immigration of Asians (Tichenor 3).

The immigration policies of the 20th century were partly discriminative, but through their implementation the government’s officials tried to avoid the emergence of the movements that could cause social destabilization.

Nowadays, the immigration policies became stricter in regulations of the legal aspect. The only means to have all the civil rights and the government’s protection is the obtaining of legal and competent paperwork. The immigrant visas can be issued for multiple purposes yet the main are the “family unification,” employment, or the asylum and refugee applications (Hollifield, Martin, and Orrenius 50).

Refugees are the people who face persecution in the countries of their citizenship because of their political views, beliefs, or race. The United States started to resettle refugees legally in the 20th century, and most of them were from the communist countries. Nowadays, the USA admits over 50,000 refugees a year. The government provides for refugees support in medical services and education.

Since 1940, the acts facilitating the admission of refugees from Europe, Indochina, and Cuba were adopted. At first, the refugee acts primarily permitted the immigration of the people trying to escape the communist regimes, but in 1980, the determination of refugees included “those fleeing varied forms of political, racial, or religious persecution” (Tichenor 244).

The refugee admission was largely supported by the public. Despite the anticommunist directivity of the policy, the USA government started the advancement of civil rights in regard to immigration. But it is fair to say that the current issues of the immigration regulations “are closely linked to the rise of rights-based politics” (Hollifield, Martin, and Orrenius 9).

The modern national immigration policies in the USA can be considered restrictive because the government sees the troubles’ solution only in the increased control. “The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act approved by the Republican-controlled government in December 2005” are one of the latest manifestations of the restriction policy (Hollifield, Martin, and Orrenius 59).

The strengthening of the restrictions regards in the main the US-Mexico borders. The unauthorized immigration is regarded as a felony and invokes banishment and visa denial.

The deportation of the identified illegal immigrants stays the main method of the fight against the unauthorized labor and residence. Thousands of immigrants are deported from the country each year, but it is recognized that the departure of all the illegal immigrants is impossible.

Along with the restrictions, the government seeks ways to allow the migrants to have a chance to stay in the country legally. Along with the DREAM Act, there is the Birthright citizenship in the US policy. Birthright citizenship ensures the legal residents for those who were born in the United States and provides them with full citizenship.


Immigration is a common phenomenon in the democratic countries, and there are numerous policies implemented to provide the legality and security of immigration. Nevertheless, nowadays in the USA the rate of unauthorized residents is extremely high, and it creates a lot of difficulties for the government.

The US immigration regulations have changed over time and evolved from the policies of exclusion and severe restrictions to the milder yet strict ways of control. Unfortunately, the current restrictions do not prove the policy’s efficiency, and the increased illegal immigration isn’t accepted well by the Americans.

However, in an attempt to provide the country’s residents with all the civil and human rights, the government introduces new ways to allow the migrants to obtain citizenship. The young foreigners now have a chance of becoming the real citizens of the United States.

Works Cited

Hollifield, James, Philip Martin, and Pia Orrenius. Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014. Print.

Kane, Tim and Kirk Johnson. “The Real Problem with Immigration…and the Real Solution.” Backgrounder. 2006: 7. Print.

Kehaulani Goo, Sara. 2015. What Americans Want to Do With Illegal Immigration. Web.

Tichenor, Daniel. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America, New Jersey, UK: Princeton University Press, 2002. Print.

Vargas, Jose Antonio 2011, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant. Web.

Who and Where the DREAMers Are, Revised Estimates. 2012. Web.

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