The United States has witnessed massive immigration as foreign nationals come in seek of favorable employment opportunities and due to the increase in inter-racial marriages. The United States hosts the highest number of immigrants in the world with recent statistics from the United States Census Bureau showing that the number of immigrants by 2006 totaled 37. 5 million (Census Bureau, 2006). The high level of immigration has become an issue of concern as Americans worry about population growth, increased competition in the labor market, rising levels of crime and insecurity.
The problem has been made worse by the rising number of illegal immigrants mostly from Mexico who make up 57 percent of the total illegal immigrants. 24 percent come from Latin America, 9 percent are from Asia while the remaining percentage comes from Canada, Europe and the rest of the world. The number of illegal immigrants to America are approximately 14 million. While many feel that immigrants bring in competition for resources and especially jobs, America has benefited from immigrants’ contribution to the economy. The challenge that America faces is the escalating number of illegal immigrants.
Analysis Immigration has been identified as a problem in America both from the social as well as the economic point of view. The United States became particularly careful with immigrants after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Hanson (2005, p. 1) notes that immigration is an issue that has threatened to divide America as politicians, socialists, conservatives and free marketers take different opinions on the U. S immigration policy. The presence of immigrants has raised several issues. First and foremost is the increase in population which has been blamed for the competition in national resources.
American jobs are at a risk as foreign nationals offer cheaper labor thus reducing income. According to Yusuf (2007, p. 29), more immigrants to the U. S continue depressing the wages. This is especially so when employers take advantage of undocumented workers who are ready to accept less wages for their services. The result is overall reduction in wages and salaries as firms adopt these new salaries for everyone. The wage rate has reduced by 7 percent as a result of immigration. The cheap labor offered by foreigners has also led to losses of millions of jobs meant for Americans.
Frustrated by their unsuccessful search for jobs, immigrants are likely to turn to crime and drug trade which have detrimental effects on the United States. Among other issues brought forth by conservatives is that immigration dilutes the culture of Americans, expands the welfare state and increases the level of insecurity (Hanson, 2005, p. 1). Critics of immigration are however quick to point out that the major problem lies in illegal immigration. Immigration is not a new issue in America. Immigration history can be traced back to the early colonial times when slaves were brought from America’s colonies to work for Americans.
Between 1870 and 1900, the number of immigrants almost reached 12 million as people mostly from England, Ireland and Germany moved into America which was conceived to be a land of economic opportunity (The Library of Congress, 1996). Other reasons for immigration included escape from religious persecution, political unrest, famine and increased taxes. Since then, more influx has been witnessed through the twentieth century and the twenty first century with many immigrants coming from eastern, northern and southern Europe.
Asian immigrants and those of Hispanic origin are the most prevalent group of immigrants. Immigrants will basically be found in almost every part of America. It is however a common tendency for immigrants to settle in areas with people of similar origin. Common states where contemporary immigrants are likely to settle in include California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey. Communities in the borders have had to deal with more illegal immigrants than the interior communities. California and Arizona record the highest number of illegal immigrants.
As early as 1790, the congress had established legislation on immigration (CBO, 2006, p. 5). The law made provisions for foreign born people to become United State’s citizens. With increasing levels of immigrants and the rise in illegal immigration, the congress has continually reviewed the immigration laws and come up with policies every now and then (CBO, 2006, p. 10). The various presidents have had similar views on illegal immigrations and various measures have been taken to curb the problem. President Bill Clinton had a great concern for the growing numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country.
In a statement issued in July 1993, the president expressed the danger exposed to America by the growing number of illegal immigrants especially in the state of California. He noted that there was increased crime and that the immigrants could pose a threat to national security as terrorists hid under the umbrella of immigrants. This had led to the need to reform the national immigration policy. Increased control at the borders through adding funds to increase personnel and equipment was seen as the best way to deal with the escalating problem.
Clinton added that the public policy was not meant to alienate all immigrants but only the illegal ones. Furthermore, America has benefited from the contributions of foreign nationals in the workforce. President George Bush introduced an immigration reform plan aimed at reducing the number of illegal Mexican immigrants from Mexico through the U. S Arizona/Mexico border. This plan is meant to increase homeland security. Bush is known to have increased the national spending on border security by 60%. As a result, 4.
5 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended. Out of this total, 350,000 had criminal records. In the reforms that started in 2006, Bush’s government would end the common practice of ‘catch and release’. Other measures included accelerating the removal process by increasing the number of flights used to deport illegal immigrants; increasing manpower at the borders; adopting newer technology such as infrared cameras and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV); erection of physical barriers to entry and creation of temporary worker program.
The issue however still remains persistent as population of immigrants goes higher. Presidential candidates have offered possible solutions during their campaign but the question still remains whether they could get rid of the problem once and for all. Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign provided that a solution to immigration could be found if America worked with foreign countries to help them provide jobs for their people (On the Issues, 2009). This way their citizens would refrain from moving to America in search of jobs.
On reduction in wages, Clinton suggested crackdown on employers who were making use of undocumented workers and paying them lesser wages which impacted on the general wage rate such that Americans have to put up with lesser income. The question on borders was also tackled and she insisted on more secure borders. She advocated for more personnel and technology rather than physical boundaries. In order to reduce the employment of undocumented workers, McCain’s proposed solution was the temporary worker program in which immigrants can be allowed to work in America legally for a short time then go back to their country.
McCain also suggested that the two million illegal foreigners who had supposedly committed crime be deported. As for the remaining 12 million who had not committed any crime, McCain was for a policy that would act both in a firm and humane way (On the Issues, 2009). Barrack Obama vowed to take on the issue of immigration reforms once he became president. He suggested that the solution to the illegal immigrants was to require them to seek American legal citizenship failure to which they will have to go. Obama embraces the need for humanity in executing the immigration reforms.
For Obama, employers taking advantage of undocumented workers to reduce wages should be tracked down if decrease in wages is to be contained. Like Clinton, Obama was for surveillance and effective technology rather than physical barriers on borders (On the Issues, 2009). According to Yellin (2009) of CNN, President Obama’s administration may not pass the immigration reforms within the year even though they formed a top agenda for the current government. The reason given by Obama is that as much as immigration is a contentious issue, the economy comes first and therefore the reforms will be considered staring the end of this year.
The congress members agree that this problem must be solved with immediate urgency because the costs incurred in deporting and sustaining the illegal immigrants is too much for the state to bear. Given that these resources could be used for development of the nation in other areas. The idea is to only leave those who are legal citizens of America and those on temporary citizenship. The US does not have much problem with the legal immigrants the government is aware of their presence. What is worrying America most is the issue of illegal immigrants.
The government is already spending $10. 5 billion to sustain illegal immigrants in California alone (Yusuf, 2007, p. 69). This is spent on education particularly the K-12 education system, the health system and incarceration of criminals in the illegal migrant group. Solution to the issue is therefore a problem that needs to be solved urgently. The problem is on the best method to deal with the illegal immigrants. The issue of deporting these illegal immigrants has led to conflicting issues both in the congress and the social corners.
President Obama during his presidential campaign had argued that it would be unreasonable to deport 12 million illegal immigrants and that instead of using a lot of resources for this purpose, better ways of dealing with the problem should be identified. The cost of eradicating illegal immigrants is expected to be quite high. The congress plans to discuss and adjust the budget to cater for the immigration policy reform. Conclusion The problem of immigrants is one that is escalating at a high rate and which needs immediate attention.
There is need for increase in surveillance, technology, manpower and probably physical barriers to reduce the entry of illegal aliens. Most of what is provided by the presidential candidates makes a lot of sense and President Obama should seek to adopt these views when the congress meets to discuss on the immigration policy reforms. The reforms are going to cost the state a fortune. However, the effect felt in the long run when illegal immigrants are controlled however will be of significant benefit to the country. References Census Bureau. (2006). American Population Data. The U.
S Census Bureau. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). (2006). Immigration Policy in the United States. U. S: The Congressional Budget Office. Hanson, G. h. (2005). Why does immigration divide America? : public finance and political opposition to open borders. New York: Peterson Institute. Hedding, J. (2005). President Bush Announces the Immigration plan. The Phoenix Newsletter, November 30. On the Issues. (2009). Every Political Leader on Every Issue. www. ontheissues. com The Library of Congress (1996). Immigration to the United States, 1851-1900. Retrieved on May 6, 2009 from