The movement of people from their country of origin to a foreign country with or without possession of citizenship is called immigration. Upon crossing the borders of the destination country during migration processes, these individuals are referred to as immigrants or migrants from the view of the nation in which they arrive. However, from their country of origin’s perspective, they are called out-migrants or emigrants. There are wide ranges of reasons that motivate individuals to move out of countries of origin, also referred to as habitual residence. They include inadequate resources in their habitual residence, their quest search for better employment opportunities to attain economic prosperity, to improve their living standards, to reunite with other family members living in a foreign country, to run away from natural calamities and conflicting situations, and retirement, among other reasons.
It is important to note that while people who visit foreign countries for short time durations, such as tourists and other commuters,, are not included in the category of immigration, those who come to a country for seasonal labor, including contracts, sometimes are defined as immigrants. Despite the fact that most people have noble reasons for moving from their countries, some groups relocate with different motives that may threaten to jeopardize the safety and well-being of the citizens of the destination country and that of other immigrants. Therefore, this research will indicate the fundamental significance of having immigration reforms, especially at this time when there is increased terror threats and the fact that the numbers of immigrants have increased dramatically over the past few decades.
Background on Immigration and Immigration Policy
In order to understand why we must have reforms in immigration, the reforms that we should have, and the advantages of having reforms in this department, it is imperative to look at the background of immigration and immigration policy. Immigration has played an imperative role in the history of the United States, and America continues to hold the most open immigration policy throughout the world. Before the rapid transport and communication epoch, America fortified relatively open immigration to have people settle down in her empty lands. After some time, some states passed laws regarding immigration, and following the Civil War, the American Supreme Court professed immigration regulation a federal obligation and responsibility. Two decades after 1900, almost 24 million immigrants had landed on the American soils, which was at the time denoted as the Great Wave (The Center for Immigration Studies 1).
The onset of the First World War lowered the numbers of European immigrants, though massive numbers were reported by the end of the war. This caused the Congress to come up with an immigration policy that was passed in 1921 and revised three years after. During this time, immigration was limited to assigning every nationality an allocation based on the representation in the previous census figures of the United States. The following two decades saw a significant decline in the numbers of immigrants flowing into the United States. However, following the replacement of policy in the year 1965 that was intended to reunite foreigners living in the United States with their families, there was an increase in the numbers of visas, especially from Asia and Latin America (The Center for Immigration Studies 1). In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed by the Congress, which included two distinct facets comprising enforcement and amnesty. This saw more than 3 million immigrants obtain legal statuses, though some of the grounds for this legalization are still considered as fraudulent. In order to avert the problem of illegal immigrants in the future, a bill was passed in 1986 that prohibited individuals from harboring and hiring illegal foreigners. Due to poor funding of the strategies aimed at ensuring that illegal aliens were not hired, enforcement officials were not able to curb this menace, which is a factor that fueled future generations of illegal immigrants.
In 1990, there was a reformation of the 1965act. The Act is not only modified the 1965 act, but it was also expanded. The total numbers of immigrants increased to 700,000, and the visas were increased by 40% (The Center for Immigration Studies 1). However, the family reunion was retained as the main entry path. Due to the increased rates of illegal immigration, especially from Mexico and China as well as other parts of the world, the Congress approved the Illegal Immigrant Reform as well as the Immigrant Responsibility Act that added border controls through the hiring of border patrol agents and increased the penalties for entering the country illegitimately. The September 11 terrorist attack various affected many issues, including immigration. Indeed, more than 20 foreign-born individuals, who had entered the country as students, were involved in this attack (The Center for Immigration Studies 1). This attack exposed various long-standing loops in the American immigration system that included, but not limited to intelligence failure, failures of information sharing and internal processes, as well as failures in the processing of visas.
The Congress and Senate, with the House of Representatives and others who are of a contrary opinion producing conflicting bills, have discussed issues of immigration reform severally. An example is the December 2005 Border protection, illegal immigration, an Anti-terrorism control Act that focused on the border and the interior and was limited to enforcement. In addition, in 2007, there was an attempt by Senate to pass a bill of amnesty that was known as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, which would have set amnesty to large numbers of illegal aliens and significantly enhanced legal immigration as well as increase reinforcement. Nevertheless, because the American public did not know the Act, it did not pass in a cloture vote.
Arguments: Why we must have Immigration Reform
What probably most individuals know is that if the immigration department is not well monitored, it can cause trouble for the whole nation. Indeed, any country with the intentions of exploring the heights of security and legal dealings ought to control the entry point of people within the borders. In fact, if the loopholes on the borders of any nation are not well sealed, then a wide range of illegal dealings will be performed.
Issues of Security
One of the major reasons why Americans need immigration reforms is because of the many illegal activities that can occur if the loopholes of the borders are not properly sealed. One of these activities is smuggling, which refers to the illegitimate conveyance of substances such as drugs, objects such as weapons, information, and even people across the international border. For instance, various goods that are lowly taxed in one country can be smuggled and sold to nations where the government has imposed heavy duties; therefore, making the smuggler, who are often illegal aliens, to obtain a large profit margin (Obama 275). Other substances, such as drugs and illegal weapons, have become rampant in the recent past. The repercussions of smuggling of goods may include the spread of ammunitions, which threatens to jeopardize the safety and security of American citizens. Indeed, through weak policies concerning security, people will get easier access to weapons, which will increase their potential to carry out dangerous activities.
Human trafficking has also become a global phenomenon that is highly linked to the immigration of people. Every year, many people are moved illegally by trafficking groups or highly organized smugglers through fraud, coercion, or force. Upon reaching the destination country, they are forced to engage in inhuman activities such as forced prostitution and in other acts similar to slavery, which violates the basic notion of the rights that should be accorded to human beings. To stop the wide range of criminal activities in our borders, then there is a need for immigration reform (democrats 5). Owing to the reason that there are very few options to relocate to the United States and obtain citizenship, most individuals attempt illegal immigration, which is a factor that has greatly contributed to the widespread market for smugglers. Immigration reform will allow immigrants to enter the United States with a regally acquired visa. It will necessitate undocumented foreigners to register with the administration while going through security checks, which is a procedure that will greatly help in differentiating the immigrants who have come to the United States with noble reasons such as seeking for greener pastures from those who have other reasons that may jeopardize the security of the American citizens (Bush 6).
We all know that families are the basic units of every society. Various studies have shown that immigrants who obtain a strong familial support are more likely to make major contributions to the American society as compared to those who do not (Kossek et al, 289). In fact, it is also evident that stable families pay taxes and establish businesses, which would, in turn create employment opportunities not only for other immigrants, but for the American natives as well. Despite this fact, the American immigration sector splits families, a situation that keeps the family members apart for years. This practice discourages people from following the rules and regulation of the immigration policy, and immigrants end up not working within the immigration system.
Fairness for the American Workers
Self-reported surveys have indicated that some American workers are treated unfairly in their respective workplaces due to various differences, including race, color, ethnicity, background, and religion, to name but a few (Roth et al, 330. In fact, reforming the immigration policy will help in protecting all workers, irrespective of their race and other differences in individuals’ occupations, from suffering exploitation and prejudiced competition in their places of work.
Recent studies have indicated that one out of every twenty workers in the United States labor workforce are susceptible to companies and employers who seek prejudiced and unfair advantage over their competitors by paying low wages to their employees (Clemens et al. 58). In fact, they pay their workers less than the minimum wages; hence, ignoring the labor rights, which are protected by the law. Reforming immigration will help equalize all Americans and ensure that all American employees are treated equally and fairly.
The American Economy
One of the biggest challenges that the American companies and businesses face today is related to the increased numbers of the aging American workforce that have caused the rapid increase in the Baby Boomer Generation retiring from their vocations. Indeed, various industries; for instance, the agricultural sector, which requires a substantial workforce that works for long hours and physically demanding times have not been able to design their business tactics aimed at working around a stable workforce. Ever since the early twentieth century, these sectors have depended on foreign workers to carry out those jobs. In order to maintain a stable balanced workforce, United States businesses should look for younger workers more so in the manual jobs. This is because most American youths are graduating from colleges and universities, thus, acquiring skills and knowledge that offer them white-collar jobs. Therefore, this trend has increasingly made the projections of adequately filling occupations in various sectors more difficult, harming the economy. Immigration reforms are necessary because they will guarantee the maintenance and retention of occupations in these companies and industries.
Reforms we Should Have on Immigration
Americans have to face the reality that many immigrants are in the country. For centuries, the human beings have migrated from their countries of birth to the American land in search of better opportunities and improved living standards. Building walls and enacting strict and harsh policies has never prevented individuals from searching for the better opportunities that America offers, from the Berlin wall to the Great wall of China. To ensure that only people with good intentions cross our borders and those who will help drive the economy, among other advantages, various areas of the immigration should be reformed.
The first area of concern is the introduction of stricter reforms in the immigration that will protect the American citizens from experiencing the adverse problems as discussed. As such, increasing border security would go a long way in ensuring that only legitimate immigrants enter the United States. This should entail increasing the numbers of border guard agents, denying visas to people who are suspected and recognized as criminals, and creating a biometric system for borders in order to ensure that workers employed on a contract basis are registered and return to their country before the expiry dates of their visas.
Secondly, the number of immigrants entering the land per annum should be reduced. In fact, it should be indicated that any number of illegitimate immigrants are intolerable and unacceptable. Today, the numbers of legal immigrants crossing the border are excessively high and should be reduced. In fact, the country is having almost a million immigrants each year. Initiating any measure that increases either the illegal or the legal immigrants is infringing the principle that states the immigration is an open public policy which primary objective is to advance and promote the interests as well as the security of the nation and its populace.
In addition, amnesty or mass guest-worker program should be eradicated. The 1986 act that introduced amnesty did not bear the intended outcomes. Rather than lowering the numbers of people who entered the country illegitimately, it led to a massive increase. This means that any newly introduced amnesty measure will not only weaken the respect accorded to our immigration law but it will also lead to corruption in the immigration department, which would increase the numbers of immigrants in the country with bad intentions. Therefore, there should be enforcement of laws against illegitimate immigration if they are really meant to perform as a preventive measure. One thing that American administrators should understand is that redefining illegal immigrants as guest workers and other similar terms do not change their ill intentions, if any; therefore, it tries to hide the fact that it is not reform but an amnesty.
Not only should the government eradicate corruption at the immigration department, but it should also make a major upgrade in the interior enforcement, beginning with robust employers’ penalties. It is due to the heightened rates of corruption in the immigration department that illegal immigrants have made their way into the land. In addition, there are employers who work hand in hand with smugglers and other corrupt officials in the immigration sector to get illegitimate immigrants and employ them for low wages. Indeed, these employers should be considered as part of the practice of smuggling, harboring, and trafficking and should, therefore, be considered as criminals and punished. Employers who knowingly or unknowingly employ illegal immigrants should be deterred because there are no industries in America with jobs that Americans cannot engage in. If illegitimate workers are reduced over time, salary or wages paid to workers will increase, which is a fact that will encourage and make many Americans become attracted by the vocations. Therefore, the current system should be reformed through enforcing employer punishments and sanctions that will see employers who break the laws regarding illegal immigrants punished. Indeed, the punishments should include serving a jail term, heavy fines, and even losing their corporate charter for repeat offenses.
Benefits of Reforming the Immigration Sector
There are wide ranges of benefits that would be derived from reforming the immigration department. First, it will help in addressing the issue of insecurity, and more so that of terrorism in the country. By giving a way of getting a legal status to the more than eleven million undocumented workers and offering visas to individuals who pass the contextual checks, the United States can increase her national security. Employees will be able to open bank accounts, acquire social security records, and work in the legal workforce as opposed to the black markets. This will help the government track the workers, especially when the world is fighting terrorism. By registering and passing the contextual background checks, huge numbers of undocumented workers will now start paying their share of taxes, increasing American government revenue (Hinojosa-Ojeda 175). It will also help in ensuring that taxes are paid on all imported goods as opposed to when these items are brought into the country though smuggling.
As more people continue to cross the American borders in search of opportunities that the countries offers, more states continue to pass legislation aimed at ensuring that there are no illegal immigrants while keeping the immigration reform in the mind of every citizen, the American government is taking measures to ensure secure borders. One of the most imperative methods of ensuring safety band security at our borders is to ensure that all American personnel working on the borders and in the immigration department do not succumb to corruption and; hence, they maintain their integrity. Drug cartels, smugglers and other illegal aliens bribe people working in the immigration department to pass the borders. Immigration reform will go a long way in ensuring that the issue of corruption at the borders is eliminated.
The American immigration sector seems to be broken. In fact, many immigration personnel risks the sector through allowing undocumented people to pass through the borders. As we have seen from the above discussion, nearly 11 million undocumented people live in the shadows. This trend is neither good for the security of the United States nor is it good for the economy. Cutting down the numbers of immigrants admitted in our country, whether they are using legal or the illegal ways, is a fundamental area of reform. The government should also ensure that border security is stronger, while ensuring that the immigration personnel maintains high integrity. As such, the policies should be enforced to eradicate corruption, which is rampant in the immigration department, a factor that can create loopholes on the national borders. Despite the fact that immigration policy reform is a long-term goal, justice cannot be delayed. In essence, it is worth noting that not only is immigration reform time-sensitive and a necessary step that will benefit the immigrants, the American economy, and American families, as well as workers.
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