Throughout the history of the United States of America, immigrants have influenced every aspect of the American society. It is worth noting that even the formation of the United States was carried out by immigrants from Europe many years ago. During this period the United States was viewed as the place of religious and personal freedom. It was unexplored territory which encouraged immigration from every corner of the universe to help in its development. Since then it has been experiencing a progressive increase in the number of immigrants both illegal and legal in search for economical and political freedom as well as the chance to realize their dreams (Pandit & Withers 94). The United States is viewed by people from every part of the world as the land of opportunity and hence they are doing everything to go there and this has led to cultural diversity that has been cited as the pillar for the success of the United States of America. However, in the recent past there has been concern over the rise in the number of illegal immigrants to the United States and the related social, economical and cultural effects.
Illegal Immigration has been America's present day disputable topic; it affects our politics, economy and even our society as a whole. Contrary to popular belief, immigration has influenced our economy on a positive level due to the financial growth that they contribute through their labor. If citizenship were made easier immigrants would help ease the taxpayers strain, Our U.S. gross national would get a boost and immigrants would provide good labor for our companies. Our society has left the impact of immigration in a beneficial way due to the bilingual opportunities it provides, along with an increase in maintaining a diverse society. The argument of legalizing immigration has strained our political parties and a decision on legalizing it or not is rarely touched upon due to the outcry it brings. To reform immigration is to stop the division of our country.
Prior to discussing the benefits of legal immigrants to the nation, the following statistics are very important. It is approximated that the number of immigrants in the United States is relatively low in comparison to the numbers at the start of the twentieth century when United States' population was fairly less than the half of the current population. These statistics include refugees and illegal immigrants in addition to legal immigrants. In relation to population size, the immigration rate is low relative to the peak years at the start of the twentieth century contrary to the common believe. When the level of immigration is considered in relation to the total population, it constitutes about a third of what used to during the peak years. By 1990, the population of immigrants in the United States of America was approximately 8.5 percent of the country's total population. In general the population of immigrants coming to the United States has been decreasing gradually since 1840 to present day. It is also worth noting that other countries like Australia, Great Britain, Germany and France have high immigration rates as compared to the United States. Despite estimation of the number of illegal immigrants being difficult to carry, various studies using very complex approaches have estimated to be 3.2 million. The number of illegal immigrants entering the United States per year is approximated at 300,000 (OECD 183).
It is also worth noting that more than three thirds of illegal immigrants staying in the United States are legal immigrants who overstay their permits and visas. The rest enter the United States by crossing the borders illegally. Some of the borders commonly used are those with Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia. Another important fact is that a large proportion of immigrants are composed of youthful labor force relative to the native. Therefore, they contribute more to the coffer of the public than they get from it. The native population is characteristically composed of a large proportion of the children and the aged. The individual draw from the government than they contribute. Since immigrants are coming from different parts of the world they have a profound impact on every aspect of the American society. For instance they may have cultural, social and economical effects and these effects may be either positive or negative.
Different studies disapproved the common belief that immigrants are a problem to various aspects of the United States society. These studies have demonstrated that immigrants are of great benefits to the American communities, economy and families. Some of these have been published by Cato institute and America's National Immigration forum with support from a wide variety of civil rights, religious organizations, business and Hispanic groups. One of such studies was carried out by a Maryland university Professor, Julian Simons who is credited for other published works related to immigration.
The study by Prof. Simons complemented other studies which have shown that legalization of immigration is of great benefit to the United States in every aspect of its society. Contrary the common believe the studies have demonstrated that legal immigration is not the primary cause of the problems that the United States is experiencing, but instead concluded that these legal immigrants contribute positively to the nation. These studies have contradicted the common believes on different aspects relating to immigration for example unemployment, increase in taxes etc (OECD 197).
As opposed to the universal belief immigrants are major reason for the marked increase in the unemployment rate in the United States; the studies have shown that immigrants have no role to play in the marked increase in the unemployment rates among the natives in the United States of America. This is also true even among the low-skilled workers, female or minority groups. The studies also indicate that the net effect of immigration on wages of the natives is positive for some groups and negative for special groups. Other studies have shown that there is no significant correlation between wage decline or decline and immigration. This finds applies to both unskilled and skilled workers. In general the overall effect was found to be negligible. They have also shown that immigrants create jobs in addition to taking jobs. The number of jobs created by immigrants through establishment of new businesses and their purchasing power equals the jobs they fill on arrival.
The total expenditure by government, in terms of per capita, on a liens was found to be lower relative to those of the native Americans despite of the a lien's classification. Welfare expenditure on immigrants was found to be fairly higher than for the Native Americans. However, it is worth noting that welfare expenditure forms a very small portion of government expenditure on both aliens and natives. Payments to the elderly and schooling are areas where the government spends a lot of money; Native Americans utilize these programs more than immigrants, especially, Medicare and social security. Legal immigrants coming to the United States are not entitled to any public assistance before they finish three years in the United States and that if any of them receives such assistance, they will be deported immediately. Research has shown that only very few legal immigrants break this rule. However, individuals on refugee status receive such assistance immediately they land in the United States of America.
In terms of educational levels different studies have shown that the educational levels of aliens have been progressing positively from one decade to the next. There were no significant shifts in terms of educational levels of a liens relative to natives were found to be obvious. Different studies have shown that the number of aliens holding post-graduate and bachelor degrees is higher than the working force of the Native Americans.
Another common believe about immigrants that has been rendered untrue is that immigrants are risking both the environment and natural resources because of population increase. Various studies have indicated that immigrants have posed no risks to either of the two. According these both population increase and increase in average income has resulted in the improvement of both cleanliness of the environment and natural resource supply and not undergone deterioration as is the common believe. Legal immigration expands the technical knowledge base. This has contributed greatly to the currently observed positive trends in both availability of natural resources and cleaner water and air (Pandit & Withers 118).
Proponents of immigration argue that immigration is of great importance to the economy of the United States of America. Their premise is that the presence of large numbers of people in the United States has a high probability of establishing new industries, more economic output and greater jobs. In addition to that legal migrants participate in payments of revenues in form of taxes to the government hence increasing government revenues. This money is in turn put in use by the government. However, it is worth distinguishing between illegal and legal immigrants when analyzing the economic effects of immigration. Legal immigrants are working in the United States legally as per the temporary or permanent visas they are given by the government. These people pay revenues in form of taxes like the natives. However, opponents of immigration claim that illegal immigrants are a burden to the United States economy as they do not take part in payments of taxes. They argue that these immigrants use public facilities they do not pay for. Contrary to this argument most legal immigrants do pay taxes and most of them are not even ready to utilize public assistance that is provided to them by the government.
But according to Light (13) Illegal Immigrants' contribution through payment of taxes is more than what they receive in form of government services. This has a positive impact in the economy of the United States of America. Despite most illegal immigrants paying both state and federal taxes, in addition to social security, they cannot reclaim these funds as they are not American Citizens. This results in the reduction of burden in terms of taxes on Native Americans. However, it is worth pointing out that this situation varies from state to state. For instance states with very proportions of immigrants and social services that are generous may experience a marked loss in net tax collection.
Another way that immigrants contribute to the economy of the United States is by being employed in jobs that offer little pay that most Native Americans are not willing to take. These acts as a source of cheap labor for numerous industries and hence ensure the progressing of the United States economy.
At the other end of the United States Economic Spectrum, a research by Cato institute indicated that more than a third of technology and engineering companies in the United States that were established from 1995-2005, one of their primary founders was an immigrant. In addition to that the research also indicated that more than twenty five percent of patents that were filed after 2005 at least listed an immigrant as a co-inventor or inventor (Light 36). These are clear indicators that immigrants are playing key roles in the improvement of the United States economy and way of life. This has also ensured that the United States economy remains innovative all through.
Some of the individuals immigrating to the United States do so because of the lack of resources and government support to put their technological knowhow into practical use. Such individuals view the United States as the place where their dreams could be realized. Therefore on landing in the United States such people may play a critical role in the advancement of technology of the United States of America or contribute in the progress of different fields. For instance an innovator may lack resources in terms of money and technology in the country of origin to put the innovation in practical use. Due to the enormous resources in the United States such an individual may be able to transform his thoughts into practical use (Halley 1).
Immigration may bring individuals who are experts in different fields from different parts of the world. These professional may bring about positive changes in the different fields of their expertise. Good examples of such expertise are the medical professionals who have played a great role improving the United States health care system. For instance a give medical complication that is commonly treated various parts of the world may not be well understood in the United States. A medical profession who is well conversant with such condition may share his knowledge with Native American medical professional hence enlightening them. Even if such a medical professional immigrants does not bring any new knowledge, he adds the number of medical professionals of the United States helping save American lives. Different studies have shown that the number of aliens taking part as engineers and other scientific fields has increased markedly. Most of these individuals have attained the highest levels of education in these fields prior to coming to the United States of America. For example the United States pools of engineers and scientist have a very high number of a liens part of their working force. Professionals in the different scientific fields are of importance in improving to the level of productivity as well as economic growth.
According to Jasso and Rosenzweig (109) large proportion of immigrants in the past and present is composed of young male adults who are very productive. He states that if the level of productive is immigrants equals that of the natives and that their coming to the United States did not result in the depression of the capital labor, then their coming would result in a rapid increase in per capita of the natives, that would otherwise not be realized without their coming. This is due to the fact that per capita has a tendency of rising due to increased labor-force participation rate that is induced by immigration.
Farrel (77) states that immigration played a key role in the rise of the capital stock. He further points out that if a new immigration leads to the rise in labor by four to eight percent over ten years and eventually led to an increase in the capital stock by similar margin, then this would result in the increase of the output by approximately 0.2 to 0.8 points in excess relative to direct impact in capital and labor would suggest. This translates to approximately five to ten percent rise in the level of productivity. This means that the entire economy's productivity is increased.
The coming of immigrants from different parts of the world with different cultures has a profound impact on the American culture in terms of literature, religion, fashion, sports or music. The diversity brought about by immigrants expose Native Americans to new types of religion, language and cuisine. Despite its potential to cause misunderstanding between individuals of different ethnicity, races long term contact results in the decline of ethnic conflict. Immigrants expose natives to different racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. This exposes the Native Americans into different ideas and forms of life. By exposing American to a variety of cultures not only enhances their ability to associate with other individual in the society but also may also enable them undergo a new way of rationalizing and hence change the way they live with the goal of improving their lives.
Despite of the above benefits there are those who feel that immigration should be regulated. Their argument is that immigrants are to blame for the rise in crime in different US cities and rising levels of poverty. These opponents of immigration have advocated for the introduction of legislation regulating illegal immigration and they have put forward numerous reasons for their position. A good example of such legislation is the New Arizona immigration law.
The United States has for many years faced a great challenge in ascertaining the exact needs of its population as a result of illegal immigration. For this reason, politicians whose strategies point out on combating illegal immigration have in the recent past received a lot of public support from American citizens. However, the new Arizona law seems to be taking a different dimension with some citizens supporting it and others vehemently opposing it. Arizona lawmakers approved one of the harshest immigration laws of all time which makes it a crime to be in the United States of America without the right registration credentials (Jones 27). This law also gives the police the power to stop, question and scrutinize the immigration status of people suspected to be illegal immigrants in the United States. The unique impacts of this law have elicited different feelings among U.S. citizens.
Arizona's new immigration law which was approved by Arizona lawmakers and signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer has elicited enormous public attention both locally and internationally (Edmonston 174 ). The problems eliciting this heated debate are connected to the impacts of the law on individuals, employees, employers and Arizonian citizens in general. This law forbids state, city or county officials from restraining the optimal implementation of federal immigration laws and permits Arizonians to litigate any official who puts into effect a policy that counters the federal immigration laws. Frolicsome lawsuits are highly discouraged by a provision in this law that states that if one sues such an official and loses in the case; he/she should compensate the accused. This law requires the police to scrutinize the immigration status of only people they sensibly suspect of being in the U.S. without the right registration credentials. However, the law states clearly that officers should desist themselves from scrutinizing such suspects in occasions whereby doing so may hamper an investigation. Police officers do not need a warrant to arrest a suspect as long as they have sufficient grounds to suspect that the person may be an illegal immigrant (Borjas 67 ).
On weighing the advantages and disadvantages of immigration, I feel that the United States government should introduce a legislation to legalize immigration and not regulate it, if the country has to continue experience sustained development. History has thought us that the United States was built by immigrants why should we deny others a chance to legally live in the United States? Had our great grandfathers restricted immigration we could not be the greatest country on the surface of earth. Let us give others the chance to realize their dreams as they benefit us through their innovations and knowledge.