Immigration In The United States Students will complete an 8-to 10-page research paper in which students analyze and synthesize literature on a selected topic, develop and support a thesis, and practice ethical scholarship including the use of appropriate citation style.
Topic: The student will examine the impact of a crisis and resolution, whether political, social, economic or environmental, and seek to answer questions concerning group definitions, goals and justifications, the impact of the crisis, and ways in which the crisis is being or can be resolved.
APA format, with Abstract and Reference page United States Immigration Policy 1
United States Immigration Policy 11
United States Immigration Policy
2014 – 2019
Union Institute & University
Professor Linwood Rumney
November, 23, 2021
America has long been a country made up of immigrants, but it’s also a nation made up of laws. Congress established national-origin quotas with the Immigration Act of 1924. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed Congress to change immigration policy with the Immigration and Naturalization Act. It eliminated quotas based on nationality. Instead, it favored those with needed skills or who were joining families in the United States. Unfortunately, politicians today, have decided to politicize an issue that has been addressed by every U.S. President for decades. One question that is seldom asked, if immigrants today are in fact fleeing deplorable conditions in their respective countries of origin, what are those countries doing to improve their economic situations and bringing their people out of their seemingly dire situations in order to help future generations break this cycle. We must continue to work with the governments of the countries identified as having their citizens immigrate to the U.S. and even collaborate with them in finding viable solutions to the hardships these immigrants feel compelled to leave. Whether it is for economic reasons or safety reasons, those countries should be held accountable for this immigration crisis and America should not be left to bear the brunt of the economic and humanitarian responsibility to provide for these immigrants.
United States Immigration Policy
America’s current immigration policies will work because immigration and laws regulating immigration are not new. In fact, immigration laws have been in effect in America for nearly a century. Immigration policies today are being politicized due to President Donald Trump’s platform on immigration. America has long been a country made up of immigrants, but it’s also a nation made up of laws. Dating back to 1924, when Congress established national-origin quotas with the Immigration Act of 1924. It awarded immigration visas to just 2 percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census.
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed Congress to change immigration policy with the Immigration and Naturalization Act. It eliminated quotas based on nationality. Instead, it favored those with needed skills or who were joining families in the United States. That increased immigration from Asia and Latin America. (The Balance, Kimberly Amadeo). Unfortunately, politicians today, have decided to politicize an issue that has been addressed by every U.S. President for decades. One question that is seldom asked, if immigrants today are fleeing deplorable conditions in their respective countries of origin, what are those countries doing to improve their economic situations and bringing their people out of their seemingly dire situations to help future generations break this cycle.
“Is our current immigration policy new? No, it is not a new policy. The “zero-tolerance” policy of today is related to another policy called Operation Streamline. Operation Streamline was an initiative by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice that was initiated in 2005 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). What Operation Streamline allowed was to detain those individuals caught immigrating illegally and charged criminally, as opposed to being prosecuted on civil charges for illegal immigration on a first offense. Once an adult was detained for illegal immigration on criminal charges, they were sent to adult detention centers where children are not allowed. Hence, anyone caught immigrating with children (anyone under the age of 18), had those children separated from them while going through the legal process. Those children are either put into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which contracts with child care providers to take care of the children or placed with family members living in the United States.”(Michael Corrales, “Immigration Then and Now”,2018)
The reason for this “zero tolerance” policy was a reported 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018 – the largest month-to-month increase since 2011 (Department of Homeland Security). Despite this position, on June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep detained families together. The order called on the U.S. Department of Defense to assist in providing housing for families when detention centers are at capacity. Before the President’s executive order, data provided by the U.S. Department of Human Services indicated that 2,654 children were separated in 2018, of those 103 were under the age of 5. The countries of origin for the children between the ages of 5 – 17 years old were Guatemala (1,423), Honduras (848), El Salvador (179), Brazil (43), Mexico (30), Romania (12), and elsewhere (28) (ACLU: Family Separation by the Numbers).
After the President’s executive order, some argue that families have continued to be separated due to a loophole in a court order added by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego which banned family separations unless they are necessary for the safety of the child. This reasonable accommodation proved to be a loophole through which the government could continue to separate families at the border (Los Angeles Times).
The President’s argument for this “zero tolerance” policy is that we must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest. To restore the rule of law and secure our border, the President is committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants. To protect American workers, the President supports ending chain migration, eliminating the Visa Lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system. These reforms will advance the safety and prosperity of all Americans while helping new citizens assimilate and flourish (http://www.whitehouse.gov).
“On May 16th, 2019, President Trump addressed the nation with his plan and intentions on immigration. The President laid out two parts to his for “full border security.” First, his plan recognizes that any border security plan must propose functional, operational, and structural reforms to strengthen America’s border infrastructure and laws. Secondly, it will create a merit-based legal immigration system that protects American wages and safety net programs, prioritizes immediate families, and creates a fair and transparent process for immigration to America.” (Michael Corrales, “Immigration then and now”, 2018)
President Trump’s plan called for a fully secured border. This would be paid from a fund directly generated by fees generated at the ports of entry. This fund would be expected to provide law enforcement with the resources needed to do their job. One of which is to ensure that all people and goods entering the United States are properly inspected. President Trump’s plan proposed for a restoration of the asylum process. Current loopholes in this system are believed to be driving a flood of human smuggling and other fraudulent activities along the southern border. Still, the President plans on expediting the relief process for legitimate asylum seekers. The plan will modernize the current legal immigration process to protect American workers. Over 70 percent of immigrants to the United States today come based on family relationships or through a random visa lottery. This system favors random chance and does not consider the skills our economy needs. The President’s plan increases the number of legal immigrants selected based on skill or merit from 12 percent to 57 percent (http://whitehouse.gov).
What some people seem to miss in President Trump’s plan are that “pro-America” and “pro-immigrant” are synonyms. Illegal immigration hurts everyone. The current immigration system is broken and has been broken for decades. Past Administrations have been unwilling or unable to properly address the impact that illegal immigration places on our economy, our communities, and our infrastructure. Although, the United States has long been considered a melting pot, and should continue to be so, some form of a structure, a legal and morally sound system must be put in place and its guidelines strictly followed. This is the only way we can establish consistency and send an international message to those that want to immigrant to the United States that they are welcomed, but they must meet clearly established requirements. The same requirements they would be required to meet if they immigrated to any other country in the world.
We cannot allow our immigration policies to be exploited for political gain by either side of the aisle. Far too often, much of the rhetoric on this subject is based on political gain and not what’s best for America. Politicians should be asking leaders from countries illegal immigrants are coming from to provide their citizens with economic security, as well as, personal safety from the conditions they claim to be fleeing.
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan addressed immigration on several occasions, in his last speech while in office, he said, “It was stated best in a letter I received not long ago. A man wrote to me and said: “You can go to live in France, but you cannot become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey or Japan, but you cannot become a German, a Turk, or Japanese. But anyone, from any corner of the Earth, can come to live in America and become an American.” This is an excerpt from a January 19, 1989, speech by President Ronald Reagan.
Much earlier in 1980, during a presidential primary debate, Reagan said, “Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit,” he said. “And then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here.” The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA or the Simpson-Mazzoli Act) of 1986, allowed immigrants who had entered the US illegally before Jan 1, 1982, to apply for legal status given they pay for fines and back taxes. The act also legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country before January 1, 1982 (Congress.Gov).
Many would argue that President Trump’s policies on illegal immigration were harsh, inhumane, and even illegal. There was much press coverage of detention facilities that was described as a crisis, and detention facilities as concentration camps, with dirty water, overcrowding, or where detainees were subjected to inhumane treatment by those who have been entrusted with their safety and security while going through the immigration or deportation process. There also was reports of children that have been removed from their families. Sometimes for months before they were reunited with their families. Many experts have weighed in on the psychological effects these separations have caused these children and parents alike. The arguments also claim that many immigrants are fleeing unsafe conditions in their home countries; where they are fleeing gang violence and a lack of food and other essentials to support their families.
“Research in Family Science demonstrates that children experience increased anxiety, depression, fear, and confusion when separated from their parents. Children may also experience financial and housing instability, internalizing, and externalizing behavioral difficulties, academic problems, and social withdrawal. Children placed into foster care may begin to experience boundary ambiguity the longer they are separated from their parents and as they grow closer to new caregivers. Long-term effects of separation on children include damaged parent-child relationships and emotional trauma (National Council on Family Relations).”(Michael Corrales, “Immigration Then and Now”, 2018)
Family separation is causing profound trauma for both children and parents rising to the level of a “crisis of sorrow.” Mothers have described hearing their children’s screams from the next room after being separated, and at least one parent has committed suicide after his child was taken away from him. The United Nations considers the practice “a serious violation of the rights of the child,” the American Bar Association calls it “inhumane,” and the American Psychological Association believes it is “needless and cruel.” The American Academy of Pediatrics condemns the practice, explaining that the resulting fear and stress can harm children’s developing brains as well as short-and long-term health (GCIR).
According to a new court filing, the federal government has identified 245 cases in which parents and children were separated after June 26, 2018. Given that more than 300 families were separated in a single week during the 2018 peak of the family separation policy, that’s a very steep decline.
The government maintains that when families are separated now, it’s for one of a few specific reasons: The parent has a criminal history or is separated for another “law enforcement purpose”; the separation is medically necessary (for example, the parent needs to be hospitalized, because the Department of Homeland Security can’t keep the child in custody until the parent’s return); or there isn’t enough evidence that the adult is actually the parent or legal guardian of the child (Vox.com).
Yet, in another area impacting immigration and having an indirect impact on family separation occurs in conflicts with Federal versus State and local law enforcement created with the passing of SB 54, known as the California Values Act or by its moniker as the Sanctuary State Bill. This bill, passed in late 2017, by then California Governor Jerry Brown, states that State and local law enforcement are not allowed to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes. No agency money or personnel can be used for these purposes. A key part of SB 54 prohibits local law enforcement from sharing information on the date, time, and location of release from jail of an individual with immigration authorities. Law enforcement is, however, exempt from this data-sharing restriction if the immigrant in question has committed, or has been charged with, certain types of crimes; or, if the information about the individual’s release has already been made public (Bloomberg.com).
President Trump’s merit-based immigration plan would actually benefit America and its economy. Data shows that immigrants are already better educated than their American counterparts (Pew Research Center). The President’s policies focus on legal immigration. The reality is that the displacement of American jobs lost to immigrants is small if it even affects natives at all. This again is good news for our economy. Most immigrants aren’t competing against U.S. citizens for some of the more technical jobs on the market, but are actually competing against other immigrants for less-skilled positions. Which is encouraging for the President’s immigration policy and our economy. Most legal immigrants do not have access to means-tested welfare for their first five years in America with few exceptions. Illegal immigrants don’t have access at all – except for emergency Medicaid.
The most fundamental argument in support of President Trump’s immigration policy is that it favors legal immigration within the proper channels laid out by his Administration. The bigger issue is immigrants coming illegally between border crossings often under dangerous conditions; deaths as a result of exposure, drownings, accidents, vigilante killings, and intentional killings. Between 1998 and 2004, deaths of illegal immigrants ranged from a low of 241 (1999) to a high of 372 (2000) during that date range, based on data for border-crossing deaths to data on the estimated number of illegal entries reported in a published study by Jeffrey Passel at the Pew Hispanic Center3 as well as to data on the number of apprehensions recorded by Border Patrol (United States Government Accountability Office).
In conclusion, although President Trump’s policy on immigration and in particular, family separations, is a very sensitive and even controversial topic, ultimately it addressed an issue that has affected many people on both sides of the border for some time. Certainly, those individuals and families that at times risk their lives to come here illegally do so, in many cases, looking for better opportunities, it also puts the United States in the unenviable position of having to address this problem. There is no easy way to enforce our countries laws and protect our borders. Any attempts to do so will always look bad from any perspective, however, we are a nation of laws, and the President’s hard stance on this issue, although optically undesirable, is necessary.
We must continue to work with the governments of the countries identified as having their citizens immigrate to the U.S. and even collaborate with them in finding viable solutions to the hardships these immigrants feel compelled to leave. Whether it is for economic reasons or safety reasons, those countries should be held accountable for this immigration crisis and America should not be left to bear the brunt of the economic and humanitarian responsibility to provide for these immigrants.
ACLU: Family Separation by the Numbers, October 2018
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk, June 18, 2019
Bloomberg.com, 2019, Are California’s Police Departments Defying Its Sanctuary Law?
, S.1200 – Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Immigration Then and Now, Michael Corrles, 2018 ELA College
Department of Homeland Security
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees – GCIR, June 2018
The Balance, Kimberly Amadeo Immigration’s Effect on the Economy and You; June 25, 2019
Los Angeles Times Editorial Board; May 8, 2019
National Council on Family Relations, June 2018
Pew Research Center, September 2018
United States Government Accountability Office, August 2006
Vox.com, Dara Lind, February 2019