Immigration to the United States began in the 14th century when heroes such as Sir. Raleigh, among others, attempted to colonize the United States. However, immigration policy changed overtime due to challenges such as terrorism and drug abuse, among others. This paper will explore the history of U.S. Immigration policy. Additionally, the paper will examine current issues facing Immigration policy (Martin & Midgley, 2006).
U.S. Immigration Policy
It is estimated that more than one million immigrants settle in the United States yearly. Moreover, statistics show that in 2002, there were over thirty million Americans of foreign origin. In essence, immigration activities have continued to shape the history of United States. Immigration policy is aimed at identifying foreigners as well as their status in the country. U.S. immigration policy has undergone three major phases namely, laissez-faire, qualitative and quantitative precincts (Greenstone & Looney, 2010).
History of U.S. Immigration policy
As mentioned above, the United States immigration policy has undergone three major phases. The first face happened between 1780 and 1875. Major players were allowed to promote immigration into the country. Federal government promoted immigration in many ways including through subsidies, among others.
The second phase of immigration policy began in 1875 until 1920 (Montgomery, 1999). This policy was introduced to restrict certain types of immigrants who were considered invaluable to the U.S. In this regard, prostitutes and convicts were banned from entering the U.S. Additionally, those with mental defects and paupers were barred from the U.S. Furthermore, immigrants from specific countries like China were barred from the U.S. Literacy levels were also used to bar immigrants in this phase.
The third phase started in 1921 in which the U.S. restricted the number of immigrants to 150000 per year. This policy also worked to encourage Northern and Western European immigrants as opposed to others. Several reforms were done in the third phase of immigration policy, which sought to guarantee Americans’ safety due to global challenges such as terrorism and drug abuse (RCC, 2009).
Current Issues Surrounding U.S. Immigration policy
U.S. immigration policy faces numerous challenges. For instance, the policy faces problem of illegal immigrants who live and work in the United States. Furthermore, the policy faces the need to respond adequately to terrorism threats without interfering with discrimination act. Additionally, immigration policy grapples with the way forward for undocumented workers who are already working in the country.
Moreover, policy makers struggle to reach a solution on how to restrain unlawful immigration as well as maintain the country’s global competitiveness. While the country needs to continue attracting talents from foreign countries, it also needs to streamline the bureaucratic process of acquiring U.S visas.
Additionally, policy makers need to secure the country’s borders to avert illegal migrants and block smuggling of drugs. Moreover, the country needs to address the issue of immigrants currently working in the country without documents. The country also needs to apply immigration policy at the communal level without causing acrimony from immigrant communities (NMAH, 2013).
United States has undergone three main phases of immigration policy. Initially, people entered the U.S. freely. Later on, complex restrictions were brought to control the number of immigrants in the country. Based on the current underlying issues facing immigration policy, policy makers should grant undocumented workers a onetime amnesty and a green card.
Thereafter, the undocumented immigrants should be granted citizenship after five years of work and residence in the country. This move would work to quell tensions regarding mistrust by immigrant communities. Additionally, it will serve as an example of a policy, which values both its citizens and non-citizens.
Greenstone, M., & Looney, A. (2010). Ten Economic Facts about Immigration.
Martin, P., & Midgley, E. (2006). Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America.
Montgomery, J. (1999). A different Mirror: A Conversation with Ronald Takaki. Understanding Race, Class and Culture, 56(7), 8-13.
NMAH (2013). Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution: Immigration.
RCC (2009). For immigration restrictions, Henry Cabot Lodge.