Migration is synonymous with human movement from one place to another in search for better living conditions. Migration into the United States is not a new concept as the country owes its historical origin to individuals migrating to America from other parts of the world driven by various reasons. Some came searching for land to be used in agricultural production, others came in search for education and employment opportunities, others come in search for freedom, whereas others came running away from adversaries within their countries of origin.
These are just but a few of the reasons leading to high rates of immigration to the United States. Being a historical concept, immigration issues have remained part of the unique forces that continue to shape the United States and this trend is far from over. This paper shall in brief, examine the concept of immigration in the United States and evaluate the current trends in regard to the issue. Immigration, a historical Concept: Migration in the United States can be traced back in the 16th century when immigrants from European countries including Britain, France, Netherlands, and Germany came to the Americas.
These immigrants were generally referred to as ‘settlers’ looking for farm land to boost the fairly impoverished status. These were the individuals who were unable to cope up with the demands of their modernized economies. During this time, a substantial number of individuals came to the United States as indentured servants (Huspek, p 161). Such individuals could then enter into contracts with their employers in order to gain entry into the “new world”. The indentured servants had to endure spells of hardships and later given a piece of land which allowed them to work as free yeoman farmers (Huspek, p 163).
The immigration trends changed during the 19th century when there was massive movement of people to the United States. Immigration to the United States has continued to increase as time goes by and the government estimates that there are millions of individuals who come to the United States each year. Of these millions, some usually enter the United States as illegal immigrants whereas others follow the legal procedural requirements (Bracey, p 116). Legal immigrants: Legal immigrants are defined in law as those individuals who gain admission to permanently reside in the United States in line with the legal requirements.
They are often referred to as ‘green-card holders’. According to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS), these are “aliens who are granted lawful permanent residence (LPR), aliens admitted for lawful permanent residence, immigrants admitted, and admissions” (Batalova, para 6). According to the law, there are three categories of legal immigrants which include family reunion, employment sponsorship, and humanitarian based as the case of refugees and asylum seekers.
One can attain the United States citizenship in two ways which includes arriving as new legal permanent residents or by adjusting the previous status upon gaining entrance to the US so as to become a permanent resident. During the year 2008, there were more than 1. 1 million immigrants being admitted to the US. Legal immigrants can also gain access to the US through the green card lottery established by the Immigration Act of 1990 allowing for immigrant entry from those nations with poor rates of immigration to the US (Batalova, para 9).
The graph below reflects the number of immigrants that have been coming to the US from the year 1986 to 2008: Immigrants Admitted to the United States (in thousands): Total and by Type, 1986 to 2008 Source: Jeanne Batalova Illegal Immigrants: These are defined as the alien population which is not part of the legal residents of the United States. These are individuals who enter the United States without being inspected or they were temporarily admitted but their period of stay has since expired.
The United States is home for an estimated eleven million illegal immigrants which has caused a major concern to the political class and the public policy analysts (LeMay, p 1). There has been a dramatic rise in the number of illegal immigration into the US since the 70s and this has been attributed to the termination of the Bracero Policy in mid 60s. The Bracero Policy was referred to as the guest-worker program that allowed the American companies to employ Mexicans temporarily for nine months every year in order to address the labor shortages during the 1940s.
This program ended in 1964 to pave way to the Immigration Act of 1965 (LeMay, p 4). This program set forth the beginning of a trend that has been persistent for years as much of the illegal immigrants are from Mexico or rather uses the Mexican border with the US to gain entry to the United States (Bracey, p 118). Conclusion: Migration is a phenomenon that shall continue to impact on human population everywhere in the world. Though migration might be disastrous to the economy especially if left uncontrolled, it is inhumane to lock out people who would want to exploit their potential elsewhere in a legally defined manner.
Every year starting from the 16th century to the present, many individuals have continued to find their way into the United States as immigrants. These individuals comes with a different culture that later becomes assimilated to American way of life creating the diversity that is the major strength of the United States. Immigration is therefore a plausible phenomenon in the United States that is supposed to be guided and encouraged by law as it contributes to making America what it is today. Legal immigration is a welcome move that is destined to continue enriching the American culture making it unique on the international arena.
Work Cited: Batalova, Jeanne. Spotlight on Legal Immigration to the United States. 2009. Retrieved on 11th May 2010 from; http://www. migrationinformation. org/Feature/display. cfm? id=730. Bracey, Gerald, W. The Research Impact of Immigration. Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 80. 1999. pp 115-125. Huspek, Michael. Production of State, Capital, and Citizenry: The Case of Operation Gatekeeper. Social Justice, Vol. 28. 2001. pp 160-165 LeMay, Michael, C. Illegal immigration: a reference handbook. 2007. Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO.