To logically comprehend the issues pertaining to the immigration policies of the U. S. , it is mandatory to clarify the concept of immigration policies in the lives of nations. ‘Immigration policies are the mix of international, national and local rules and programs that aim to facilitate the admission and integration of some foreigners and prevent the entry and stay of others (Martin & Lowell, 2004)’.
Up until the end of the nineteenth century, the United States practiced the open door immigration policy allowing rapid flow of immigrants into the country who were perceived to strengthen the country’s economic position in the global community. However, in the contemporary world, this notion is debilitated by an apprehension that these immigrants ‘lower the nation’s productivity–the sick, disabled, indigent, and criminal (Chiswick , p. 119). As the United States continue to stricken its policies for immigrants, the labor pool is reckoned to continue shrinking which is further intensified because of the growing of the baby boom generation.
On the top of all this, the situation is further exacerbated by the choice of today’s Americans in terms of jobs. With more and more young Americans aspiring to enter the high tech industries, the labor industry faces a constant terror of gradually becoming bereft of the laborers. In such a scenario, the nation’s need of the hour appears to be a reconsideration of previously stricken immigration policies. Else the U. S. economy is likely to experience another recession in the years to come. Reasons behind Labor Shrinkage:
In the contemporary world, the American economy enjoys the labor force of baby boom generation along with the contribution of previously settled immigrants in the country. As this baby boom generation continues to unjoin the labor force as a result of aging and as the country continues to stricken its policies regarding the immigration of foreigners, the United States faces a threat of shrinking labor pool in the decade to come thereby proving to be a sinister for the American economy. Role of Baby Boom Generation:
The baby boom generation refers to the children born between 1946 and 1964 as a result of the baby boom across the United States after the Second World War. As this generation continued to grow, they occupied ample job vacancies of every nature thereby filling the labor pool of the country. These people, now above forty years of age, remain no longer eligible to carry on their work thereby leaving a huge gap in the labor pool because of the fact that the baby boom generation was followed by the baby bust generation resulting from increased birth controls afterwards.
Today, the numbers of workers who actively form the part of the labor force are from the baby bust generation marking a sixteen percent decrease in number as compared to that of the baby boomers (Cappelli). Role of Immigrants: The role of immigrants in the economic stability of the United States cannot be denied. According to the analysis of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in the year 2003, the immigrants coming into the United States do not benefit the country’s economy in a single dimension.
Instead the entrance of immigrants means more than just sharing the jobs pool in a sense that these immigrants often participate in the labor regions and work in capacities that are normally rejected by the native population. In usual circumstances, the immigrants coming in search of labor have low levels of education. This makes them well suited to the low-wage jobs that do not require high level skills. Another hindrance of these immigrants in reaching the high level jobs is their lack of proficiency in the English language. According to the studies of Gordon H.
Hanson from the University of California, in the year 2003, 62% of Native Americans were hired at the posts of managers, professionals, or technical or administrative staff whereas only 43% of the immigrants were held one of such positions (2004). For the very reasons, these immigrants make up a share in labor more than their share in the total population. Comprising of a large part of population, the number of these immigrants fell tremendously since the early twenty first century as the labor pool of the country began to shrink. America- a Nation of Immigrants:
Concerning the history of immigration policies is the past of the American nation that is considered to be one of the pioneers in setting a trend of formal immigration policies implemented by the nations in the contemporary world. Immigration policies have always remained a key issue for the United States – a state of immigrants. According to Aristide R. Zolberg, the American people were well clear about who is to share their state even before their independence to make it ‘a nation of immigrants, to be sure, and not just any immigrants’.
In the contemporary world, the immigration policies are considered to be the ‘major instrument of American nation-building’ (Zolberg, 2006, p. 1). It was at the end of the nineteenth century that the reviewing and processing of all immigrants entering into the U. S. territory was done in order to cope with the increasing number of immigrants aspiring to live in the U. S. Consequently, the first federal law, that limited the number of incoming immigrants, was enacted in 1875. This act prohibited the admission of criminals and prostitutes into the United States (Congressional Budget Office,2006, p. 13).
Today, these immigrants live in the United States with their status ranging from Legal permanent residents, Naturalized citizens, Undocumented aliens, Refugees and Legal nonimmigrant residents (Fix & Passel, 2001). Reasons behind tightening U. S. Immigration policy: The reasons behind stringing immigration laws of the United range from the opposition of Native Americans, who feel that they are being snatched of their right when immigrants enter to share their labor pool, to a number of events that have created circumstances rendering the stringency in the existing admission policies. Labor Responses and the Immigration Policies:
“Immigration has always been a no-win situation for the American (labor) unions (Briggs, 2004). ” With the obvious negative implications of the immigrants on the native labor force, the American labor movement has also responded to the share of immigrants thereby causing alterations in the practicing policies. According to the studies of Briggs, the increasing number of immigrants means a decline in labor union strength whereas the opposite case is observed in a situation otherwise. To safeguard the interests of native laborers, the labor unions have been in a constant process of objecting the entrance of foreign workers in the work force.
Major Events and the Immigration Policies: In the background of amended immigration policies of the United States today stands the contribution of many events. Some of these incidents are as follows, World War I: Masses of immigrants from various countries entered into the U. S. after the World War I thereby forcing stringency in the existing immigration policies. Consequently, the country enacted its Quota Law in 1921 that limited the number of immigrants by reserving a particular quota for the citizens of every state (Congressional Budget Office, 2006, p. 13). World War II:
The number of refugees entering the U. S. after the Second World War was also limited by the Refugee Act of 1980. This act gave the President and the congress a right to keep changing the number of immigrant refugees entering into the country every year (Congressional Budget Office,p. 14,2006).. September 2001: Since the Second World War, the American immigration policies have been in a constant process of amendments. Although the immigration laws of the United States have always been significant, their criticality has severely increased since September 2001 attacks.
It was after the attacks of 9/11 that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) implemented a number of changes in the immigration laws. Since then, the foreign students have been prohibited to cross the premises of the states without first getting admission in any institution. Similarly, the individuals aspiring to visit the U. S. for business or tourism cannot stay in the country for more than thirty days (Peter). With more and more terrorist activities going on around the world, the United States like any other nation is trying to maintain a balance in the entrance of people and keeping stable the economic conditions.
Immigration and the U. S. Economy: Like any other phenomenon, the immigration issue leaves multifaceted implication for the analysts. At one hand the immigrants are opined as a positive contribution for the country’s economy by earning the nation an increased annual income and through their skills, hard work, entrepreneurial instincts, social security tax payments, and/or willingness to take jobs unwanted by Americans (Lowell, 2004). However, the other side of the picture suggests decreasing income rates and more competition for the natives as suggested by Hanson (Bergsten, 2005, p. 344). In the words of William F.
Jasper, another such apprehended analyst, “For years we were told that these waves of “undocumented workers” were essential to our economy, that they were simply “doing jobs Americans wouldn’t do”–mostly seasonal, minimum-wage (or sub-minimum-wage) farm labor. But the fact is that several million Mexicans who have come as “temporary” farm laborers have moved on from the fields to take permanent jobs in the construction trades, manufacturing, meatpacking, food processing, textiles, hotel and restaurant services–good-paying blue-collar jobs that were, until very recently, held by U. S. citizens (2007, p. 36). ”
Recruitment Strategies in the light of Current Immigration Policies: In the current scenario when the existing number of foreign workers has increased to an extent that between 1970 and 2003, the share of the foreign born in the U. S. population increased from 5% to 12% (Hanson, 2004) thereby bringing the issue of recruitments to accommodate the employment needs of the natives into question. As the less-educated native-born workers, teenagers, and black males face the highest challenge, the need of the hour for the American companies is to adopt strategies that are viable and in concurrence with the financial well being of such natives.
Concerning the very issue, the recruitment policies for working in the Unite States have changed tremendously since the introduction of Employment Eligibility Form 1-9 in the year 1986. This form with a number of pre-requisites refines the quality of labor force thereby providing a better chance for the natives. The document clearly rejects the illegal immigrants in terms of their eligibility for the American work force. Previously, these immigrants enjoyed enough relaxations to continue working in the country (U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
Similarly, Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations now require that non-citizens apply for and obtain the appropriate visa and required endorsement before they can be lawfully employed (Penn HR, 1991). Another important step in this regard is The Americans with Disabilities Act. Passed in 1973, the act asserts that a human resource department should accommodate the people who, even after their physical or mental impairment, fulfill the requirements of the job. Adjustments in this case include job restructuring, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices and provision of readers or interpreters etc.
(Non-Discrimination Policies). Another law to be implemented in collaboration with the recruitment bodies involves the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967. Passed for the individuals over forty years of age, the act opposes the turn-over rates of active individuals based merely on the ground of their old age (NC State University). Immigration, Economy and the Future Concerns: As the U. S. economy enters into the new millennium, the recruiting of foreign and native born population to maintain the economic growth has come into question.
Many analysts suggest that one way out to guarantee strong U. S. economy is to let more and more immigrants enter into the country and work in the labor capacities. This possibility has however been marred as the economy keeps witnessing changes. An immigrant population entered into the country at the time of boom may have to suffer joblessness in the opposite scenario thereby further debilitating the economic position of the country by increasing rate of jobless individuals. However, one way out of this paradox is to send work abroad if the labor markets continue to shrink.
This proves to be a two way solution as the labor in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh costs much cheaper than that in the United States. The labor shortage in terms of disinterested individuals (who do not want to join the labor force of smaller industries and aspired for the high tech jobs) pertains directly to the question of wages. The major reason behind preference to the high tech jobs is increased salary thereby ascertaining that if the country provides raised wages to the labor, there would not be any reason left to shun such vacancies.
However, to oppose the immigration with an apprehension of increasing competition and increasing share would be an implausible idea especially in the time of rapid globalization when the labor like any other commodity is in a constant process of translocation across borders. In the words of Kevin Jernegan, “As the next decades of the 21st century unfold, the rate of immigrant-driven transformation, which began in earnest in the 1960s, will continue to accelerate (2005).
” Even after passing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), what cannot be denied is the constant need of labor force from foreign countries to keep the American economy in a better shape. To fulfill the needs of labor remains one of the four key reasons behind increased entrance of immigrants into the United States. Although marked with limitations, the immigration law still permits millions of non U. S. citizens to enter the workforce on temporary or permanent basis.
Employment based immigrants make up around sixteen percent of the total immigrant body having Priority workers (adroit individuals in the fields of arts, athletics, business, education or science) ; Professionals who are highly qualified ; Skilled and unskilled worker (specially for places that are rejected by the natives); Special immigrants ( like the ministers of religion) and the Investors willing to invest at least $1 million in a business that create at least 10 new jobs in the U. S. (Overview of US Immigration Policy). Conclusion:
The dangers of decline in the American economy cannot be denied but at the same time, immigrants cannot be considered as the sole factor behind the change. The American history reveals no such example where the increasing number of immigrants working in the country led to the economic recession. Immigration to the United States is a two way prospect thereby creating a paradox in sticking to any permanent change in the immigration policies for the years to come.
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