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This Country Was Founded By Immigrants, Built By Immigrants

Since the founding of America, more than 55 million immigrants from around the world have settled in the United States. With the exception of Native Americans, all people living in America are either an immigrant or descendants of voluntary or involuntary immigrants. Yet every wave of immigration has faced fear and hostility when there are economic hardships, political turmoil or war. Today, an anti-immigrant movement has been seeking to curtail the rights of many people living in the United States.

In 1994 California voters adopted “Proposition 187” which denied most basic services to anyone suspected of not being a citizen or egal resident, including education, health and social services. In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the new welfare law), which took a wide range of federal benefits and services away from both undocumented and legal immigrants (including food stamps and Supplemental Security Income. SSI benefits were later restored for only those immigrants who came into the U. S. before August 22, 1996.

That same year the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was adopted, oreclosing immigrants from challenging abusive practices and policies of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in court. Bush promised if he was elected that he would speed up the naturalization process and proposed splitting the INS into two separate agencies. That would be beneficial to immigrants if it goes through. [1] The Constitution does not give foreigners the right to enter the U. S. But once here, it protects them from discrimination based on race and national origin and from arbitrary treatment by the government.

Immigrants work and pay taxes. Legal mmigrants are subject to military draft. Many immigrants have lived in this country for decades, married U. S. citizens and raised their U. S. citizen children. Laws that punish them violate their fundamental right to fair and equal treatment. The Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU was established in 1985 to challenge unconstitutional laws and practices, and to counter the myths upon which many of these laws are based. The Project has become one of the nation’s leading advocates for the rights of immigrants, refugees and non-citizens.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act allows about 800,000 people to settle here each year as permanent residents including about 480,000 who reunite with their families. About 1430,000 are admitted to fill jobs for which the U. S. department of Labor has determined no American workers are available. 110,000 refugees are admitted that have proven their claims of political or religious persecution back home and about 55,000 come in through a diversity lottery which started in 1990. This lottery benefits mainly young European and African immigrants. The advantages are great in America.

Most economic experts who have tudied the relationship between immigration and U. S. employment report that “immigrants create more jobs than they fill — by forming new businesses, raising productivity of already established businesses, investing capital and spending dollars on consumer goods. ” [2] In addition, the Urban Institute has concluded that “immigrants actually generate significantly more in taxes paid than they cost in services. ” This is because undocumented workers, despite their ineligibility for most federal benefits, frequently have Social Security and income taxes withheld from their paychecks.

In fact, immigrants pay substantially more in taxes every year than they receive in welfare benefits. In other words, they subsidize senior citizens. ” [3] The disadvantages of immigrating to the United States are equally noted. “English only” laws, which declare English to be the country’s official language bar government employees from providing non-English language assistance and services. This is not consistent with the First Amendment right to communicate with or petition the government, and the right to equality.

This law is currently enforced in eighteen states, and some are written o broadly that they forbid non-English government services such as assistance to recipients of benefits, applications for drivers’ licenses, and bilingual education. Current “English Only” laws are based on the false premise that immigrants today from Asian and Spanish-speaking countries will not learn English unless the government forces them to. Research shows that they are learning English just as quickly as everyone else and the truth is that there are not enough English speaking classes to teach them.

Today, many thousands of immigrants in the U. S. are on waiting lists for adult English classes. 4] The 1996 immigration and antiterrorism laws passed by Congress were steps backwards for refugees because the government can deport someone without any federal court review of a deportation order. The antiterrorism law allows the government to deport aliens based on evidence they cannot effectively challenge because it is secret. One federal court judge said o the practice of using secret evidence: “One would be hard pressed to de sign a procedure more likely to result in erroneous deprivations … Secrecy is not congenial to truth-seeking. [5] The U. S. conomy produces and Americans consume more than any other country in the world.

There are many jobs for immigrant laborers in the economic sector (from childcare to agribusiness). Immigrants fill jobs that U. S. citizens often reject. They help the economy maintain competitiveness in the global economy, and stimulate job creation in depressed neighborhoods. Many major corporations would rather hire foreigners who often work harder for less pay than U. S. citizens. [6] A disadvantage of immigrating to the U. S. is the language barrier. What if an immigrant needs to go to a hospital emergency room and can’t speak English?

The Boston Globe recently reported that 1,000 immigrants from across the state of Massachusetts converged to lobby their representatives for such things as money for emergency-room interpreters. Led by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, they pressed members of the Ways and Means Committee to include $2. 7 million in the state budget to pay for interpreters, half of which would later be reimbursed by the federal government. State law will require hospitals in July to have interpreters. [7] Immigrating to America and wanting to transfer their credit history to the USA is ifficult.

Without credit you cannot rent a car, a video or most anything. Even renting an apartment and ordering basic utilities requires that a credit check be run on you. Going mainstream USA without a credit card is not easy. The standard minimum with most creditors is 3 years. For this reason, many immigrants should establish credit quickly. You have to have a job to get credit and you have to get a checking account with a bank that offers Visa or Mastercard ATM cards. This is not a credit card but works well to purchase mail order items, secure reservations, provide deposits and so on.

The American way is not easy, but it can be done. [8] In 1996, the United States government signed a law into effect called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act which changed U. S. immigration policy at every level. It comprises 2000 pages and expanded greatly the list of offenses for which a non-citizen could be deported. Under the old immigration policy, a person could be deported if he/she were convicted of a crime that came with a 5-year sentence. The new law shortens it to one year. It could be one year of probation, too it does not necessarily have to be jail time.

Therefore, all kinds of isdemeanors are now called aggravated felonies by the INS and a conviction will get you immediately thrown out of the country forever, regardless of whether or not you have children here or other family and regardless of any other circumstances. Some of these crimes which will now get you deported include: shoplifting, transporting a prostitute, possession of marijuana, domestic violence, violating a protection order, gambling, perjury, entering the country without an inspection by the INS and entering the country without the proper paperwork with you. [9] The amazing thing is that it is retroactive.

This means if someone is a long-time permanent resident and has lived in the U. S. for 40 years and, 39 years ago they were convicted of shoplifting, they are now deported for that offense. There is no judicial review of this law. If someone is accused he or she cannot face the accuser. If a man upsets his wife and she asks for police to find her a place to stay because she is upset with her husband, the man will probably be deported because domestic violence in the United States is carefully guarded by police these days. Even if the wife does not want to press charges, the police have to file the complaint and take omeone away.

Thus, the man goes to court for a domestic violence hearing. He is advised to plead no contest by the lawyer. The man is found guilty and then receives a paper from INS saying he is to be deported because of his conviction for domestic violence. In the old days, an immigrant could stand before an immigration judge and have his case heard and tell of the surrounding circumstances. Then the judge decided if the person was to be deported. This is not the case, now. The 1996 Immigration Act makes a conviction for domestic violence, for example, an automatic, unreviewable ground for deportation.

An immigration judge can consider only the fact of a conviction, not the circumstances. [10] In conclusion, there are many advantages and disadvantages of immigration to the United States. The U. S. is no different than any other country of immigration. If someone is lucky enough to come to America, they can enjoy all the privileges of anyone else if they play by the rules, don’t break the law, pay taxes and work for low wages and hopefully own their own businesses so they can get ahead. Otherwise, get in line and join the rest of the working class. It is a risk, but the opportunity still lies in the American dream.

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