The Benefits of U.S. Immigration
Since the terrorists’ attacks of September 11, 2001, the topic of U.S. immigration has come into the arena of great debate. This debate brings into question, whether or not the U.S. should consider setting up a stricter initiative to enforce immigration laws for the purposes of national security.
Past policies were not exactly successful on restricting immigration flow. Newer laws could be even more damaging to the nation that so many Americans love. In a government effort to clamp down on immigration flow, an important piece of America may be smothered as well.
History, cultural diversity, and overall growth of the country are intermingled with immigration. The United States should not adopt policies to further restrict immigration because in doing so the country will also be restricting a valuable part of America: its diversity.
A Nation Founded by Immigrants
The United States has long been a country rooted in the ideals of freedom. The National Anthem proclaims that the U.S. is “the land of the free and the home of the brave!” (Star Spangled Banner).
Ironically, this same free country may now want to limit the opportunity of freedom for other immigrants. However, America is a nation founded by immigrants who were seeking freedom in a new land. These immigrants came from England to America so they could have religious and political freedoms.
Jamestown was the main enter of America in the 17th century, and two centuries later Ellis Island became the main portal for immigrants to enter into the United States. Today, “over 40 percent of the current American population can trace back their ancestry through Ellis Island” (Ellis Island). Immigration, in our current era, is very similar to that of two centuries ago.
Immigrants come to America looking for new opportunities, religious freedom, better lifestyles, etc. Those immigrants bring their cultural backgrounds with them into the United States and the country becomes more diverse. As a result, the U.S. is a country with different cultures, languages, and religions.
These differences bring new advantages into the country that the United States benefits from. Some of these advantages are new concepts and ideas, different customs, types of entertainment, talents, skills, etc. all of which bring diversity into America by way of immigration. This cultural diversity is what makes the United States so unique from the other countries of the world.
The American Dream
Immigration also benefits the U.S. by allowing immigrants into the country who cause the country to grow economically, culturally, and keeps America progressing. Immigrants come to America seeking new experiences that their respective countries do not offer. Better health care, education opportunities, living conditions and other advantages appeal to immigrants who want a stab at the American dream.
Therefore, they come to America looking for these advantages. On the other hand, some immigrants come to the country to work lower-paying jobs. Although there are illegal immigrants also migrating to the U.S., many legal immigrants do pay taxes and participate with the system which helps to support the United States.
The U.S. takes in more immigrants in a year than any other country in the world. According to the Annual Flow Report, the leading countries that immigrants migrated from to the U.S. were “Mexico, India, the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, and Cuba” (Lee and Rytina). In 2008, the majority of those immigrants were located in California, Florida, and New York.
In that same year, “a record number of persons [1,046,539] were naturalized in the United States” (Lee and Rytina). The number of illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. was “about 275,000 a year” (A Nation of Immigrants). America receives more legal immigrants who participate in the U.S. system than those who come to the country illegally.
The National Origins Act
In times past, the United States’ efforts to combat the flow of illegal immigration were not very successful. At the end of World War I, Congress began to change its basic immigration policy by passing the National Origins Act in 1921 and later finalized in 1924.This act restricted both the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. and “assigned slots according to quotas based on national origins” (Immigration and U.S History).
However, this bill showed partiality to immigrants from certain parts of Europe and restricted all immigrants from Asia from entering America. Then in 1965, the Hart-Celler Act was passed by Congress which changed the basic immigration policy substantially.
The Hart-Celler Act
The Hart-Celler Act in 1965 was set in motion in order to get rid of the quota system of the National Origins Act. The National Origins Act was racially discriminatory so the Hart-Celler Act replaced the racial quota system with one based upon preference categories based on the immigrants occupation and whether or not he or she had family in the United States. This change in U.S. immigration policy brought an increase of migrants to America.
Today, the most recent immigration policy put into effect was the Homeland Security Act of 2002. This act created the Department of Homeland Security and transferred all of the Immigration and Naturalization Service functions to the DHS. Now, the DHS is in charge of “immigration services, border enforcement, and border inspections” (Immigration Policy in the United States).
The current immigration laws prove to be effective to a certain extent just as the laws in times past. However, if further polices were enacted it may cause even more migrates to resort to illegal activity. Stricter immigration policies will cause the illegal immigrants to stay off the law enforcement’s radar and not participate in the regular acts that most Americans do.
That means illegal immigrants are more likely to not integrate with other Americans, be a part of the education system, or fill taxes. On the other hand, immigrants who are legal permanent residents of the U.S. will engage in those activities and be a part of American culture.
References and Further Reading
- Congress of the United States Congressional Budget Office. “Immigration Policy in the United States.” Cbo.gov. Congressional Budget Office, Feb. 2006. Web. 8 Sept. 2009. <http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/70xx/doc7051/02-28-Immigration.pdf>
- Diner, Hasia. “Immigration and U.S. History.”America.gov. 13 Feb. 2008. Web. 15 Sept. 2009.
- Lee, James; Rytina, Nancy. “Naturalizations in the United States: 2008” dhs.gov. DHS Office of Immigration Statistics, Mar. 2009. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/natz_fr_2008.pdf>
- National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services. “Star Spangled Banner.” kids.niehs.nih.gov. NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 8 Oct. 2008. Web. 15 Sept. 2009. <http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/spangle.htm>
- U.S. National Park Service. “Ellis Island.” Nps.gov. National Park Service, 7 Sept. 2008. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://www.nps.gov/elis/index.htm>
- U.S. State Department. “A Nation of Immigrants.” usa.usembassy.de. U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, Feb. 2007. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://usa.usembassy.de/society.htm>