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Immigration has been part of legislation since the founding of the nation. In 1790, Congress established a process saying ones that are born in the United States become citizens automatically. The first federal law was passed in 1875 limiting immigration qualification in order to prohibit the entry of criminals and prostitutes. Currently, there are two forms of immigration: permanent admission and temporary admission. The ones that are allowed permanent admission are granted permanent resident and a green card. Permanent residents are allow working in the United States and are able to file for citizenship.
In 2004, there were about 946,000 people that were admitted to the United States as a permanent resident. Temporary admission is for foreigners who want entry to the United States for a limited of time on behalf of a specific purpose such as visiting families, tourism, temporary work, or school. These people are classified as “nonimmigrants”. Temporary admissions are not allowed to apply for United States citizenship. If they want to apply for citizenship through naturalization, they need to submit an additional application for permanent resident before they can do so.
In 2004, 5 million people were granted temporary admission.
Immigration policy in the United States reflects many goals. First, it serves to reunite many families by admitting family members from foreign countries. Second, due to labor shortage, United States can admit ones with a specific skill to fill up positions in occupations. Third, it provides a shelter for people that face the risk of political or religious persecution from their own country.
Lastly, by letting people from foreign countries immigrate to United States, it allows us to become a more diverse nation. Even though United States has goals for immigrations, there are still many rules and regulations involved; not anyone can just enter United States and become permanent or temporary residents. United States may deny visas or admission on either the temporary admission or permanent admission for many reasons. Some reasons may be because of criminal records, health records, or terrorism concerns. Immediate family members of a United States citizens are allow immigrating to the United States without many limitations. Citizens of the United States are allowed to sponsor relatives for permanent residents under the family-sponsored preference program.
According to Garnett Hardin in his paper called “Lifeboat Ethnics: The Case against Helping the Poor”, he thinks that United States should simply not provide aid to people in the poor countries. Hardin started out his essay with a metaphor comparing the earth to a grand spaceship. Hardin said, “Since we all share life on this planetâ€¦ no single person or institution has the right to destroy, waste, or use more than a fair share of its resources” (402). Hardin is more practical rather than liberal. He imagined United States as a lifeboat and the people that are out in the ocean are the ones that want to immigrate to United States. Hardin says, “â€¦we must recognize the limited capacity of any lifeboat. A nation’s land has a limited capacity to support a population and as the current energy crisis has shown us, in some ways we have already exceeded the carrying capacity of our land” (403). The way that Hardin think is correct. United States have more people being born each day then people dying; if United States accepts anyone as an immigrant, the nation would not have enough land to support them. Furthermore, there are many lazy people in this world. As what Hardin was saying, let’s assume that we have a fifty people capacity on our lifeboat. To be generous, we can make room for ten more making the total capacity of sixty people. If we can make room for ten more, then we would need to make room for the rest of them also. Pretty soon, the lifeboat is going to overfill and everyone can possibly drown. To make that short, if we take one person into the nation, we would need to take the rest. There is no point letting them into our nation if they are not going to make any contributions. I believe that United States should only take immigrants that can contribute to the nation. Currently, there are many permanent residents in this nation that does not make any contribution whatsoever. Many immigrants have the mentality that if their relatives in the United States are able to sponsor them to come over, then they can sponsor them for the rest of their lives. In my opinion, ones that have an education, have a specific reason to come over to the United States, and ones that can help out the nation are allow becoming permanent residents in the United States.
In John Tierney’s paper, “Angels in America”, he believes that the United States immigration policy is too strict causing many immigrants to come illegally. Tierney used his grandfather and an illegal immigrant, Angel Espinoza, as examples. Tierney thinks it is unfair that Espinoza is not allowed to apply for citizenship while others can. Tierney continued onto explaining Espinoza’s situation. Espinoza left farm just like Tierney’s grandfather and came illegally to the United States with little education. Later, he married an American descendant from his native country just like what Tierney’s grandfather did. Tierney’s grandfather applied for United States citizenship afterward and got approved while Espinoza did not. Espinoza was once caught at the border and violated the law which made him ineligible for a green card and permanent residency. Tierney goes on to explaining how Espinoza and his grandfather both worked hard, chasing the American’s dream, to support their families. Espinoza had to go to work every day with the fear of being departed from the United States for working illegally but his grandfather did not had to go through that. Tierney believes that if one is willing to work to achieve their goals then they should be treated equally. Tierney said, “I’d like to see Republicans on Capitol Hill explain to Espinoza why he’s less deserving than their immigrant ancestors, but that’s probably too much to expect. Espinoza has a simpler wish: ‘I would like them to tell my American daughter why her father can’t stay with her’” (704). I personally disagree with Tierney’s idea of immigration. Just because one is hard working does not necessarily mean they deserve to be a United States citizen. I believe that in order to become a United States citizen, one must have a moral character, knowledge of the United States history and government, and willingness to support the United States politically and militarily. Because Espinoza was caught at the border at one point in time, he does not have the moral character. Tierney stated, “It’s been argued that Mexicans are different from past immigrants because they’re closer to home and less likely to assimilate. Compared with other immigrants today, they’re less educated, and their children are more likely to get poor grades and drop out of school” (703). As I stated before, if one does not have an education, they are less likely able to contribute to the United States and have knowledge of the history and government.
There are over a million immigrants that enter the United States legally or illegally each year. Having immigrants allow employers to have cheap labor but in the meantime, as David Masci stated, “American workers suffer because the newcomers take jobs and suppress wage levels.” Many people also argued that native-born people are unwilling to do low-wage jobs but that has been proven wrong. According to Mark Krikorian, an executive director of the Center of Immigration Studies, said in the article “Debate Over Immigration”, “In parts of the country with few immigrants, low-wage jobs still get done, and by native-born people.” Americans are not unwilling to do such jobs, but we prefer not to do so. If these immigrants did not take these low-wage positions, native-born Americans will be forced to take these types of jobs. Krikorian also said, “Employers could find Americans to do these jobs if they wanted to, but they’d have to provide training and raise wages to do so.” It is just easier to allow immigrants to take these positions. There are also arguments stating that immigrants are over-crowding the United States and “preventing immigrants already here from assimilating into American society” (Masci). Masci also said that immigrants came to United States in the past because they want to be here, but currently, immigrants immigrate here for job opportunities and the concept of freedom. A lot of immigrants from foreign countries have the mentality that if they come to the United States and not able to find a job then they can get governmental aid such as Welfare. I believe that these are the type of people that are not allowed to immigrate to the United States. They do not truly love the country, but instead they want to come here for the freedom and for a better environment.
In conclusion, immigration is a problem in the United States. People from foreign countries want to come to the United States for freedom and job opportunities. With all these people coming over and taking jobs from the current Americans, it causes the citizens to suffer. The extra people that are immigrating to the United States are overcrowding the nation. It is making it harder for new immigrants to adapt to and experience the American society when there are so many new immigrants coming into the nation each year. United States need a more strict immigration policy in order to keep out all the criminals and prevent terrorism. I highly agree with Garnett Hardin’s view of immigration where we should keep out as many immigrants as possible, and I strongly disagree with Tierney’s view of immigration. He thinks that the policy right now is too strict causing people to come illegally. Without a strict policy, our nation would be in more danger due to criminals and terrorism.
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