All persons who live in the United States now, with the exception of American Indians, are descendants of immigrants or slaves, who moved to the country in the last 400 years or so. Whereas initially the U.S. government encouraged the immigration in order to settle as much new territories as possible, now various laws are passed to limit immigration. Unfortunately, the number of visitors and foreign nationals who stay in the country illegally presently counts 11.5—12 million, and it is a growing problem for the U.S. Analyzing the media sources helps to understand such an important issue as illegal immigration to the U.S. The review of the Internet publications on this topic gives a good understanding of this situation. The official Internet sources prove to be very effective and fast in case such information is required.
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Going back to the history of immigration
The American nation was formed by immigrants who came probably from all nations under the sun. In order to understand the present problems with illegal immigration, it is necessary to make a short review of the history of immigration to the U.S. Initially the U.S. government encouraged immigration since the country was rapidly expanding and new territories had to be populated (History of Immigration Laws in the U.S.). After the Civil War, some states began to pass their own immigration laws. The Supreme Court’s decision in 1875 changed that into the issues of federal jurisdiction. From the earliest times, laws were passed to determine the composition of the country’s population. Congress passed the Naturalization Act in 1790, which limited immigration to individuals of European and Caucasian origin. Later on, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, banning immigration from China. The ethnical restrictions also included such nations as Poland, Ireland and Italy that produced too many immigrants. Together with that, Congress passed other laws that determined the moral composition of the population. For instance, immigration of prostitutes, criminals, mentally ill and financially unstable persons was restricted at the end of the nineteenth century (History of Immigration Laws in the U.S.). In 1885 and 1887, laws were passed to regulate immigration based on economic reasons. That was the first sign of what makes now the basis of present-day immigration debate.
Later on, from 1900 to 1921, the “quota system” was established to give permission of a set number of people from each ethnic group to immigrate. The determining of the number of immigrants was based on the census. This system was abandoned by Congress in 1965. Since then the immigration acceptance has been based on the applicant’s “need”, based on labor, family unification and political asylum reasons. Since the 1980s, the illegal immigration and border security issues became an ever growing basis for debate and lawmaking. Due to an increase in illegal immigration from Latin America, Congress passed the law leading to doubling the number of border control agencies and adding fences in areas with heavy traffic.
Present day situation
It is estimated that up to 12 million of illegal visitors and foreign nationals live in the U.S. now (BBC News). Those are people who came into the country without required documents or overstayed their visitor’s visas. In two last decades, the speed of illegal immigration had grown significantly. As compared to the 1980s, the number of illegal immigrants, entering the U.S. has become five times higher. A big share of those people comes from the countries of Latin America, and, in particular, from Mexico.
As the facts show it, the illegal immigration is highly profitable for both U.S. employers and the government (White). The US government is interested in having poverty-stricken laborers from Mexico work for profit-hungry US companies. There are several reasons why the government is not able to end illegal immigration at this point.
Firstly, the US–Mexican border stays under-patrolled and barely enforced, allowing entrance to illegal immigrants from Latin American countries. About 75% of undocumented visitors arrive in the U.S. across the US border with Mexico.
Secondly, it is poverty and unemployment in the countries of Latin America that push people to seek jobs in the USA. Of 104 million of Mexico’s population, 24% live in extreme poverty (White). Official unemployment in that country runs as high as 40%, and the government is not able to provide any welfare benefits to poverty-stricken population.
Thirdly, US companies practice hiring illegal immigrants with little penalty imposed on them. There is an unspoken agreement between US companies, employees and the federal government which says: “As long as a person provides an ID that looks credible, the employer asks no questions.”
Lastly, Social Security collects around $7 billion annually from undocumented workers. The sad truth is that if people are in the U.S. illegally, they will never be able to use Social Security benefits.
It seems that, with the present-day situation, the number of illegal immigrants will be growing continuously unless the laws that are passed are also enforced. On the other hand, it is obvious that America will always look like the promise land to those, who try to escape from their poverty-stricken countries, to find economic stability in the U.S. That will have to lead to reaching a compromise between allowing people to enter the country legally and enforcing the laws to keep away those who want to find an illegal entrance.
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