The United States’ Immigration Policy Alternatives

Immigration has characterized the American experience since European settlers moved in America. He further indicates that the values that unite the people of the United States with the rest of the world, particularly Europe, are connected to immigration. However, many policymakers think differently. A good number holds that illegal immigrants serve to strain the social services provided to American citizens (Bhagwati 11).

Given that America is host to many people from different countries, a discussion around the subject of immigration in the US usually provokes profound feelings. Cortina argues that the main reason why the topic of immigration is sensitive is that it touches on ethnicity, the economic position of the US, social services such as health care, and the environment. Lately, the discourse over immigration has grown to include a wide range of foreign policy issues.

Given that the subject matter touches on immigrants from Latin America such as Mexico, the protracted debate seems to be aimed at strengthening the relations with the two countries or dividing the relations (Culver 140-147). The reason being, most people who immigrate to the US, have been identified or have been taking part in criminal activities.

In their article, Cabieses, Tunstall, and Pickett (68-74) hold that there is a concern regarding the current immigration reform. All Americans must comprehend the issues being discussed within the perspective of long-term goals. Mainly, the current debate is centered on drafting legislation that aims to control several issues, such as undocumented control. Nonetheless, things are not that rosy as some of the policies that policymakers have insisting on raise many questions, some even threatening to negatively affect relations with some countries. For instance, some policymakers have been agitating for the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally (Lowenthal, Piccone, and Whitehead 2-10).

Taking the example of Mexico where most of these immigrants come from, the country’s administration has always insisted on its citizens are being targeted intentionally because there is always some kind of unfriendliness between Mexico and the United States on international matters such as the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and transfer of illegal guns.

The outcome of this is four options aiming to provide policy directions to the issue (Culver 2-6). Generally, they have been designed to help one think about an array of likely policy directions as well as the consequences of each. The options taken have been connected to things such as historical aspects and laws. Also, each of the policy options comprises some criticisms meant to assist people in knowing about points of comprising and involved trade-offs. It is important to note that some policy alternatives reflect not an individual but the entire country. “Many of the US organizations that are successful are owned by immigrants” (Bhagwati 11).

Option one: allow immigrants who are young, educated and talented

“Highly trained immigrants contribute to the country’s development through innovation” (Newton, 270). In the 21st century, competition amongst different is poised to increase. As such, the US must be well prepared to out-compete rivals in international trade. This has been brought about by continuous technological change. For instance, in the last decade, the United States economy has been undergoing some changes (Loucky, Armstrong, and Estra 7-10).

The worst of all came almost our years ago when the world almost went down due to the recession. Businesses have not healed yet; they are still cutting jobs and retrenching workers. The remaining employees or workers have been compelled or have no choice but to contend with low pay. The federal and state governments are still downsizing and trimming their programs. It must be noted that while the economy of the United States managed to overcome a recession, other issues such as immigration are likely to impact it negatively and perhaps take it back to recession.

“Americans still want the federal government to fix the broken system” (Culver 2). Because of these concerns, policymakers have insisted that the US immigration policies should be shaped to reflect or be in line with the country’s economic situation. Sovereign states the world over, have the liberty to decide on their agenda; therefore, there is nothing bad with the United States promoting its national interest or agenda.

Many people have voiced their concerns that as it is, the country can no longer afford to admit more immigrants as they have continued to overburden the country. They hold the view that the immigration policies in the United States should be shaped in such a way that serves the country’s economic needs first and not directed towards solving the world’s challenges. As stated, “Immigration policy should attract immigrants in low-wage sectors” (Rocha 81).

From the above scenario, policymakers are divided on the policies to pursue. Policymakers have been arguing that instead of admitting people because they have relatives in the US, the government should focus on admitting talented young people. With this, they hold the view that the government should grant immigration visas to those people who are skilled and talented. To manage the tough economic times, the government should cut down total immigration, especially those granted refugee status to reflect the prevailing economic situation of the United States.

In other words, when the economy is not favorable, the government should endeavor to reduce the number of immigration visas and should only be increased when it is favorable and sustainable. Meanwhile, the government should allow just a few foreigners to work in sectors badly hit by labor shortages. Some of these sectors comprise the informal industrial sector and agricultural sector.

Since there is a problem or deficit concerning sciences, particularly Engineering and Research, policymakers in the United States have insisted that only immigrants who qualifications in these fields should be allowed or granted permission. Furthermore, students who have interests in these fields should also be granted permission. However, the problem arises when most people migrate to the US do not have training or have not majored in these fields. They also hold that the government should not expend its affordable health care and other social services to unlawful or undocumented immigrants.

Option Two: To Open the United States to the World

The forces of internationalization are fast shaping a new world in the 21st century. With the ever-increasing global trade, national boundaries are fast losing their meaning. People are sharing information at a very fast speed. The US’s tradition, such as openness, diversity, and tolerance, encourages or has attracted people to the US. When related to major economic competitors such as European countries and Japan, America is likely to favorably compete in the global market as it has rules that do not bar people from trading with it (Loucky, Armstrong and Estra 20-24).

Some of its core commodities, such as films, fashion, music, and corporate or brand names, are highly attractive to many people around the globe (Rocha, Hawes, and Fryar 80-86). This is partly because they represent a culture that not just embraces, but also celebrates diversity. Thus, immigration positions the United States with the demand of end-users across the globe, and gives organizations from the United States an advantage in the international markets. For a long time now, the United States has been known as a land that offers opportunities to many people from outside its boundaries. Most of the people who have immigrated to the United States have greatly contributed to its development.

People are still moving to the United States (Jaggers, Gabbard, and Jaggers 3-4). The US gives an attraction to people who do not even have proper qualifications in academics. The country has a very strong work tradition and works ethic. Apart from being a land of opportunity, they also believe that it is a land that rewards those who work hard.

In the end, these people bring ideas and talent to the US, which will benefit everybody at large. That is why the US has always left doors open for all people. Based on the above situation, the challenge is on the policies that the US should pursue. Whether or not get rid of bureaucratic hindrances in immigration processes that keep members of different families separate. The other alternative is whether to allow people across the world, who are fearful of being persecuted with the full protection of the United States asylum and refugee legislation (Newton 269-271).

The other option may be to adjust immigration laws to allow greater immigration, particularly from states like those in Latin America and Asia. This is based on the fact that people from such countries have been subjected to unfair treatment in the past. The other alternative is to increase the opportunities offered to immigrants.

Some of these opportunities include job training with English being the language of instruction to speed up their absorption and interaction with the larger community. The other thing that has been disturbing US citizens and policymakers is that being part of the international community, the US is supposed to offer medication and social services to people living in the country. Given that the US has some federally supported healthcare programs, it matters a lot or has been a subject of discussion whether these immigrants, as stipulated under the UN charter on human rights, should give free medication just like US citizens.

Option three: Avert or stop the process of immigration completely

As it has been seen, the world is fast changing (Correa-Cabrera and Rojas-Arenaza, 300-305). The world population is confronted with many challenging issues, including hunger and insecurity. Even though the United States is stable, it cannot manage to shoulder the consequence of all these things. In short, as the world population continues to expand, they are likely to be faced with more and more problems. However, the United States cannot do anything to stop the plight and challenges people face. The United States has its share of challenges that need to be addressed. The economic shifts being witnessed are already forcing millions of locals to the edge.

Because of this, many Americans have been forced to work overtime to meet their needs. The other challenge is that the public is congested and under-funded. In other words, the way the United States organizes its activities poses a major challenge. At this point, the US is minimizing social services for locals; therefore, it goes without saying that the country cannot afford to continue granting visas to millions of immigrants. However, it must also be understood that people from the developing world cannot be blamed or even be associated with any bad thing, mainly for wanting to better their lives in the United States.

Some of these people usually come from backgrounds that are less privileged and hapless (Correa-Cabrera and Rojas-Arenaza, 300-305). But the world should understand that the US has already offered more than enough to many people around the globe. Based on this, several people indicate that the federal government should put an end to the process of immigration. Immigration has considerably changed the American culture and is now the perfect time to preserve its unique culture that was established many years ago (Correa-Cabrera and Rojas-Arenaza, 300-305). Policymakers hold that the federal government has the responsibility to avert the unprecedented entry of immigrants who are not talented and educated; they only serve to disadvantage American workers by taking up their informal sector jobs.

It must also be understood that the war against illegal immigrants started a long time ago, but it has just gained a moment owing to financial problems the country is facing. With this, some policymakers have been insisting that the federal government should use its powers to stop illegal immigration completely. They argue that these can easily happen by channeling more resources and support to people who manage borders. What policies to Pursue? From the above scenario, some policymakers are highly divided on the policy to undertake. Like other options, policymakers here contend that the number of visas granted to immigrants annually should be reduced.

In the mid-1960s, the federal government had set the limit at about three hundred thousand. So, this is the limit that the policymakers want to restore. They also hold that the federal government should enhance border security by increasing police or security personnel at all border points. Specifically, the United States-Mexican border is one of the many entry points highlighted by policymakers. They also hold that immigrants whose visas have expired should be immediately expelled or deported (Correa-Cabrera and Rojas-Arenaza, 300-305).

They have also suggested that the federal government should introduce a national identification card to be presented by everybody whenever required to do so by the security agents. Particularly, they hold that such visas should b used when applying for jobs or any social or health care service. They have also held that the federal government should prevail on the Latin American governments to take measures to avert the increased movements of their citizens to the US.

Policymakers also indicate that the American government should not allow families of the foreigners living in the US or born in the US. Similarly, they emphasize that the law should be enacted to compel those seeking political refuge in the United States to do so through a formal application at the US embassies or consulates in their countries.

Fourth Option: to make the process of emigration completely unnecessary

The new or the present world has brought with it a lot of things. In the developing world, there is widespread insecurity, disease, and a lack of basic needs, compelling many people to find greener pastures elsewhere. Most immigrants usually come from developing countries, and the United States is the recipient of the majority of immigrants (Brady and Finnigan 19-23). The bottom line is that it does not resolve anyone’s problems when doors are opened to immigrants.

Also, admitting many immigrants into the US brings with it a lot of issues and challenges. For instance, it leads to overburdening institutions of learning, health, and deprives developing countries of their best. With brain drain highly pronounced in developing countries, they continually face the problem of lack of skilled labor to help in attaining their national goals. Although the United States is well endowed, it cannot absorb immigrants at the current pace. There is a likelihood to compromise not only the social structure but also the economic aspect. But at the same time, the United States cannot afford to overlook the plight of many people outside its boundaries.

The United States is well endowed, so people have been choosing the country as the best destination or their next home. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the US to join with the global community to avert any humanitarian concern and find lasting solutions to the problem of immigration. With this, some quarters have been arguing that the US should find some ways of creating incentives, particularly for the most talented in the developing countries to remain in their countries and contribute towards the development of their home countries (Stevens 23-34). In short, by helping alleviate the forces that drive immigration, the US will have successfully tackled the issue.

However, if this is not done, the US is likely to continue suffering from the same problem in the long term. With the situation debated above, policymakers have been insisting on some policies, including the expansion of foreign trade with developing countries to stop their people from immigrating to the United States. By trading with the developing world, it is like empowering those countries to manage their affairs. As such, they indicate that it would help such countries create jobs for their people.

This would significantly reduce the number of immigrants to the US. Some of the quarters hold the view that the US should work closely with countries where immigrants seem to be coming from to coordinate efforts such as the resettlement of the homeless or refugees and avert the occurrence of such scenarios in the future (Czaika and Haas). As it has already been discussed, is a member of the international community, the United States is supposed to adopt policies that are human and consistent with the UN charter on human rights.

Policymakers in this regard have been divided. Some quarters want policies that suit their political situation others are for policies that are responsive to the problem facing the country. Some people argue that the US should cut down the number of immigration visas and refugees who are provided with protection.

The challenge of immigration

“The less educated natives in the United States have been harmed immigrants who take up their opportunities “(Stevens 23-34). First, scholars define illegal immigration as the act of moving into or living in a country other than the country of origin, without government permission. In other words, the lack of documentation is basically what makes illegal immigration unlawful. In contemporary American society, the subject of illegal immigration is highly debated due to the challenges it poses (Stevens 23-34). The primary intention of the typical illegal aliens is the search for greener pastures, and in the process, they end up adding value to the economy of the host country.

However, not all immigrants end up benefiting the host economy. Some of them take away some value by arousing insecurity within the host country. Generally, studies show that when many people are not registered or documented, there is a likelihood of insecurity. Although most of these people do not necessarily pose some danger, their availability puts pressure on available resources and creates a compromising ground for criminals such as terrorists.

The challenge to security stands out as the main problem caused by illegal immigration. Other problems associated with illegal immigration that contribute to the problem of insecurity are increased cases of organized gangs, drug peddling, identity theft, and increased prostitution cases. In most countries, there have been efforts to curtail the influx of immigrants. However, some efforts have only served to drive or enhance the issue of lawlessness as they make aliens to US illegal means to enter the country. Therefore, if something is not done to solve this problem, illegal immigration will increase, thereby increasing pressure on the available resources. This aspect is likely to trigger a civil war and eventual international insecurity.

Problems associate with the US immigration policies

The system of preference

In the US, the policy of immigration since the mid 20th century has been one that favors the reunification of family members. The system was mainly meant to create a solution that was equitable as well as balanced. However, the organization has become out-of-date, injudicious, and degrades the values it was initially supposed to advance. Compromises made on the immigration policy in the mid 20th century ignored traditional relations with the US and subjected immigrants from countries in Latin America to certain immigration cap (Stevens 23-34). As a result, immigrants from Latin America usually face a tough problem: abiding by the law and waiting for a long time before receiving feedback. It is because of this that many immigrants usually for an easy way of joining their family members.

The 1996 illegal immigration Act

This act is restrictive and exclusionary. It is more of a liability than an asset. All current laws that control immigration issues are derived from the 1996 immigration act (Stevens 23-34). Currently, the discourse about the immigration issue has not embraced the provisions contained in the 1996 immigration act but has provisions that are worse than the previous police. Scholars argue that it is hard to achieve a just immigration policy without removing the tough policy.

The US Treats Immigration Policy as a National Issue

The issue of immigration in the US has treated as a local or national issue and not an international issue. It is not responsive to the internal aspects of immigration (Stevens 23-34). The international community recognizes the aspect of human capital movement without any restriction, but the US has been shaping the policy to reflect its domestic status. International policy strategies on immigration emphasize some kind of shared responsibilities, particularly for embracing changes in social and economic aspects to alleviate the issue of people moving in other countries in search of opportunities.

In general, these issues associated with the structure are major hindrances to concerted efforts in designing a forward-looking immigration policy in the United States. Scholars argue that the basic aspect of the discourse on immigration must completely change. “By understanding these impediments can the current discourse about immigration policy reforms be successful” (Stevens 29).

Loopholes in the existing laws

There are many concerted efforts by different countries to contain the issue of illegal immigration. However, some of these efforts stand out better than others. Adopting an efficient process to curb illegal immigration and enhance compliance with immigration laws (Cabieses, Tunstall, and Pickett 70-72).

According to Newton, many people in the US hold that the existing unlawful migrants should be deported and then allowed to enter host countries legally via checkpoints with an enhanced screening process to enhance compliance with the laws of the host country. Park stresses that the adopted mechanisms to the problem of illegal immigration should not involve a protracted screening process. Such a process is likely to attract less attention from existing migrant workers, thereby evading compliance (Stevens 23-34).

“United States immigration law is very intricate, and there is much misunderstanding as to how it functions” (Stevens 26). Biometric identification is one of the aspects being supported by some policymakers. However, it must be recognized that such a program is not likely to discourage illegal immigration as it is complex and takes a lot of time to verify some people. Also, micromanaging of migrant laborers by Government organizations should be stopped.

This is because it is not a good thing when governments assume the role of licensing migrant workers as such as process is analogous to micromanaging the migrant labor market. In order words, apart from being a riskier precedent, the process is likely to fail. The bottom line is that when a government is allowed to manage the migrant labor market, it would be setting or creating loopholes for intrusion at later stages. This is because such a process would be open to maltreatment, susceptible to corruption, and unproductive.


Even though most illegal immigrants to the US are looking for opportunities that they can exploit to better their lives, some have been found to engage in illegal activities. According to the Department of Justice, illegal immigrants commit crimes such as gang violence, drug trafficking, and identity theft, just to mention by a few. When spread across the country, such acts of criminality are likely to put the country’s security in a delicate situation.

At the moment, the federal government has been deporting those who are found to have crossed into the country illegally. However, for the future, the federal government has been setting up screening centers at border points on top of drafting policies that will allow immigrants who are young and talented to be issued with legal documents instead of being deported. Those who support immigration argue that immigration helps lower prices of commodities, increases the demand for locally manufactured goods from other countries, and creates competition and growth of the economy.

They further argue that immigration significantly lowers production and eventual reduction in the price of goods. In general, immigration has been a heated topic as it touches on the security, the economy, and the international affairs of the United States. Because of these factors, the country has been pursuing policies that are more nationalized than internationalized. The country wants to make sure the citizens and other services, are not affected as a result of immigration. Some of the immigrants are involved in illegal activities such as drug trafficking and other forms of crime. That is why most policies have been advancing harsh penalties for people who are found to have been in the country illegally.

Works Cited

Bhagwati, Jagdish. “Bush trades his principles: Expediency has led the president to weaken commerce and immigration policies.” Financial Times. 2001: 11. Print.

Brady, David and Ryan Finnigan. “Does Immigration Undermine Public Support for Social Policy.” American Sociological Review 79.1 (2014): 17-42. Print.

Cabieses, Baltica, Helena Tunstall and Kate Pickett. “Changing patterns of migration in Latin America: how can research develop intelligence for public health?” Pan American Journal of Public Health 34.1 (2013): 68-74. Print.

Correa-Cabrera, Guadalupe and Miriam Rojas-Arenaza. “The mathematics of Mexico-US migration and US immigration policy.” Policy Studies 33.4 (2012): 297-312. Print.

Cortina, Jeronimo. “Subsidizing Migration? Mexican Agricultural Policies and Migration to the United States.” Policy Studies Journal 42.1 (2014): 101-121.Print.

Culver, Leigh. Adapting police services to new immigration. New York, NY: LFB Scholarly Pub. LLC, 2004. Print.

Czaika, Mathias and Hein De Haas. “The Effectiveness of Immigration Policies.” Population & Development Review 39. 3 (2013): 487-508. Print.

Jaggers, Jeremiah. Jay Gabbard and Shanna J Jaggers. “The Devolution of U.S. Immigration Policy: An Examination of the History and Future of Immigration Policy.” Journal of Policy Practice 13.1 (2014): 3-15. Print.

Loucky, James, Jeanne Armstrong and Larry Estra. mmigration in America today :an encyclopedia. New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Lowenthal, Abraham, Theodore Piccone and Laurence Whitehead. The Obama administration and the Americas: agenda for change. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2009.

Newton, Lina. “America’s Immigration Policy.” Analyses of Social Issues & Public Policy 6.1 (2006): 269-281. Print.

Park, Virginia. “Enclaves of Rights: Workplace Enforcement, Union Contracts, and the Uneven Regulatory Geography of Immigration Policy.” Annals of the Association of American Geographer 104.2 (2013): 329-337. Print.

Rocha, Rene, Daniel Hawes, Alisa Fryar and Robert Wrinkle. “Policy Climates, Enforcement Rates, and Migrant Behavior: Is Self-Deportation a Viable Immigration Policy?” Policy Studies Journal 42.1 (2014): 79-100. Print.

Stevens, Dakota. The Mexico-United States Border and Illegal Immigration to the Us. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2006. Print.

Cite this paper

Select style


Premium Papers. (2023, January 16). The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives. Retrieved from


Premium Papers. (2023, January 16). The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives.

Work Cited

"The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives." Premium Papers, 16 Jan. 2023,


Premium Papers. (2023) 'The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives'. 16 January.


Premium Papers. 2023. "The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives." January 16, 2023.

1. Premium Papers. "The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives." January 16, 2023.


Premium Papers. "The United States' Immigration Policy Alternatives." January 16, 2023.