The United States is the third most populous nation on earth. Wondering where most of this population comes from? Well, immigration! According to the 2016 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, the United States admitted 1.18 million legal immigrants in 2016. Wondering the number of births recorded that year? Just about 3.9 million. That means more than a 20 percent increase in the US population that year resulted from immigration.
It turns out this is not just the case in America alone; one of the primary sources of population growth in the United States and other powerful western countries such as Australia and Canada is immigration. The primary reason for immigration is that people worldwide seek better economic and social opportunities to thrive. So what are the effects?
Effects of Immigrations
The effects of the high immigration numbers flowing into the United States have raised debates which have resulted in several enactments of policies meant to protect the United States from what some see as a threat from immigration.
A good review of some of the research done in the United States indicates that immigration affects two primary segments of life: Economy and Social wellbeing. Economically research has indicated that immigration benefits the United States economy. So why do some consider it a threat? well, although research confirms the overall positive effects of immigration on the native population, there are mixed findings on its effects on the low-skilled natives. They, in most cases, have to compete with the immigrating population for job opportunities.
Socially, immigration has played a critical role in the dilution and changes in the culture of the United States to the point that some individuals have felt that it is a threat to the need to maintain ethnic homogeneity. But is ethnic homogeneity a good thing? The answer to this question depends on whom you ask. Some argue that it is good for security and unity. In contrast, others argue that it has the potential to bring about what is socially termed “ethnic clones,” making the society become less dynamic and even regress.
In addition, some argue that immigration led to a rise in social evil such as crime. Are they right? Not so much! Research has indicated that immigrants are far less likely to be involved in criminal activities than the population considering themselves to be native. Critics of these facts, however, argue that it is because of the immigrant’s act of taking up the opportunities of the low-skilled natives that the low-skilled native becomes more frustrated with life and opts for criminal activities.
As a result of the issue of immigrants being more and more controversial as years go by, with no side of the ideological divide seemingly having enough facts to win over the other side, the issue of immigration has always dominated most political campaigns in American history. As a result, several policy changes have been made to deal with the issue. One such policy was a policy put up by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
The policy was referred to as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. It was meant to protect the economic interest of the United States citizens and reduce the number of illegal immigrants by making it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants by establishing financial and other penalties for companies that employed illegal immigrants. The act also legalized most undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before January 1, 1982. The policy was welcomed by many from both sides, but it was only meant to tackle illegal immigration.
Different Types of Immigration Visas
But how do legal immigrants enter the United States? Well, they do so by obtaining immigration visas. They are primarily of two types; Nonimmigrant visas given to those seeking temporary stays such as for tourism, business, family visits, study, work or transit and Immigrant visa given to those seeking permanent residence in the United States. One famous immigrant visa is obtained through Green Card, which is won by people worldwide primarily through lottery.
While it is difficult to convince everyone that immigration is good for our country, there are enough research findings to support this argument. However, it is also important to regulate the rate of immigration to ensure that the country does not lose its identity and for security purposes. This is the essence of having the immigration laws provided in the constitution of the United States of America.