Immigration. It has been an area of serious dispute lately, and many people are questioning the thoughts and decisions of leaders both past and present. Many politicians, including our current president, Barack Obama, believe that more immigrants can only bring more prosperity to America. However, that is not the case. Not only are they at least partially incorrect in their reasoning, but they also disregard enormous dangers to the country as a whole, in the form of potential financial ruin and/or terrorism.
Immigration is not bad as a whole; however, when men and women sneak across the border illegally to take a job they have no right to take, or when a refugee slaughters American citizens, it can certainly seem that immigration should halt, but that has never happened. Immigration is a great, powerful tool, one that has brought prosperity and wealth to countries, and can change entire cultures. In fact, it sparked the flame for the nation known as the United States of America. In the centuries after the Pilgrims landed, immigrants such as Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla have created marvels using their severely limited resources.
For example, when Tesla arrived in the U. S. from Serbia, he had “four cents in his pocket, some mathematical computations, a drawing of an idea for a flying machine, and a letter of introduction from Charles Batchelor, one of Edison’s business associates in Europe” (“Nikola Tesla: Life and Legacy- Coming to America”). He transcended from his previous conditions quickly. He eventually discovered the Alternating Current, a system by which electricity can travel longer distances far more speedily, without enormous electrical plants every few miles.
Unfortunately, immigration does not always bring pleasant consequences. Through the centuries, immigration has brought great things to America, but it has also brought several wars and quite a bit of contention with other nations. Mexico, in particular, has had major conflicts with the United States over this topic. The issues with Mexico began around two hundred years ago, when Texas was still under the control of Mexico. Mexico was afraid that more Americans in Texas would cause it to desire independence, so the Mexican government decided to halt all American immigration to Texas.
Eventually, Texas was able to gain its independence under the direction of Sam Houston; however, Andrew Jackson refused to annex it. It was not until the time of John Tyler that Texas became a state. Unfortunately, that was not the end of American Mexican disagreements. In fact, it only enflamed the disagreements between America and Mexico. There were other political conflicts over the centuries, but after Texas’ annexation, immigration was never as important of an issue as it is today. The immigration issue is not just linked to America’s history.
It is intrinsically linked to the American economy, as well. In large cities, illegal aliens take jobs that otherwise would have gone to United States citizens. Though many do not wish to admit it, people who are willing to do “dirty jobs,” such as garbagemen and construction workers, are needed. Quite a few of those jobs are going to neither legal residents nor to legally immigrated workers. Many times, those jobs go to men and women who sneaked across the border illegally instead (“Illegal Aliens Taking U. S. Jobs”).
Immigrants, both legal and illegal, have also been blamed for lowering wages in the United States. The reason for this is that many employers for low-education jobs are willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that their potential employees may be illegal immigrants. In 2014, it was estimated that there were a total of 11. 1 million illegal immigrants in the United States (Krogstad, et al). That number goes up by approximately another million undocumented, and therefore illegal, residents every year.
The aforementioned total accounts for nearly four percent of the entire population in the United States (Krogstad, et al), or approximately one in every twenty-five residents. During the hectic race for the 2016 presidency, immigration was a major issue that was heavily discussed at both the presidential and vice-presidential debates. President-elect Donald Trump has declared, “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words” (“On Building a Wall”).
He has also proposed to halt all immigration from many terrorist-supporting countries, such as Syria and Lebanon. At the same time, the other candidate, Hillary Clinton, advocated the exact opposite. She, in fact, proposed an immigration plan more along the lines of something the European Union would propose: to create a functionally borderless conglomeration of states, with immigrants and refugees from other countries flooding into the United States. She also advocated for the illegal immigrants currently staying in the United States to be legalized.
While not a bad idea in its entirety, Clinton’s plan would have definitely seen religious extremists, as well as untalented workers, entering the nation at alarming speeds. Not to mention, illegal immigrants that have not been paying into the nation’s retirement programs would suddenly reap the rewards associated with the aforementioned programs. This is not the first time that immigrants have been blamed for declines in wages. During the early 1880s, laws were put into effect which prevented Chinese workers from coming to America to work for booming railroad industries.
After the First World War, more laws, such as the Immigration Act of 1924 (also known as the Johnson-Reed Act), were put into effect. These laws restricted the number of immigrants and refugees that could flee from their war-torn European nations in the United States. It set quotas for immigration for certain nations. Said quotas were based upon the number of foreign nationals that were residing in the United States in 1890. The Johnson-Reed Act also effectively created the Border Patrol (“History of U. S. Immigration Laws”).
During the Great Depression and the Second World War, immigration into the United States plummeted to an all-time low. From 1930 to 1950, the number of immigrants in the United States dropped by nearly four million, to 10. 3 million. Then, before the Cold War had begun in earnest, hundreds of thousands of European and Soviet refugees were admitted into the U. S. During the Cold War, rather than to completely reform America’s immigration laws, President Harry S. Truman instead decided to make certain exceptions to meet the needs of many European and Soviet refugees.
For example, he passed the War Brides Act in 1946, which made certain provisions for spouses and children of American soldiers. Several other Acts were passed by President Truman, which included the Displaced Persons Acts of 1948 and 1950, and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, which provided immigration quotas for Chinese immigrants following the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950. However, the national quotas were still based upon the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, and other laws were passed in the 1950s that limited immigration, despite President Truman’s veto.
In 1958, Senator John F. Kennedy’s book A Nation of Immigrants fanned the flames for a racially neutral immigration policy, and during both Kennedy’s and Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential terms, quite a few reforms were made to the United States’ immigration policies. One such reform was the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which effectively created quotas for each individual nation. It also created a maximum total of immigrants from each hemisphere, and created some family exemptions from the quota.
Refugees from natural disasters and from Communist nations, as well as from Middle Eastern violence were classed as a preference group, which meant that they could be up to six percent of the visa quota (“Cold War”). No significant changes were made to immigration laws or quotas until 1980, when the Refugee Act was passed, repealing the limitations that favored refugees from Communist and Middle Eastern nations. It also redefined “refugee,” so that it would conform to the United Nations Protocol and Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“History of U. S. Immigration Laws”).
According to the aforementioned U. N. Protocol, a refugee is defined as: “A person who is unwilling or unable to return to his country of nationality or habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” (“History of U. S. Immigration Laws”). Since the 1970s, reform of laws pertaining to illegal immigration had been discussed; however, nothing was agreed upon until the mid-1980s.
The next major step in the path of immigration was in 1990, when President George H. W. Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990. It revised many of the older policies made under President Bush’s predecessors. It was not until the recession years of the early 1990s that anti-immigration sentiment grew. In the wake of the destruction of 9/11, immigration reforms needed to be made for reasons of national security. In 2002, the Department of Homeland Security was created, replacing the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which had existed since the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.
The Department of Homeland Security served to protect and defend the United States from any further acts of terrorism from both inside and outside the nation. The 9/11 attack was not the only reason that has spurred the tightening of borders. Donald Trump wishes to close down any and all immigration from known terrorist-supporting nations, like many in the Middle East, and many people agree with that sentiment. There is a valid reason as well– they see that many European nations are being overwhelmed by Muslim refugees, fleeing from the violence and destruction in their homeland.
They also see that the nations seem to be bending over ackwards to cater to the immigrants’ whims, and the Muslim immigrants are taking over the once-proud culture of the aforementioned nations. Many cities in those nations, especially in Sweden, have declared Sharia (also spelled Shari’a or Shariah) Law, which puts into place many harsh, inhumane, and restrictive rules, especially regarding women. For example, should a thief be caught, the thief will have his/her right hand amputated (“Sharia Law”). Also, any criticism or denial of Mohammed, the Koran (also spelled Qur’an), or Allah is punishable by death, with no stipulations regarding the type or duration of death.
If a non-Muslim man marries a Muslim woman, that is also punishable by death. In Sharia Law, women are to be circumcised, and marriage may be consummated when the bride is nine years old (“Sharia Law”). If Sharia Law is in effect, marriages may be arranged when the bride is an infant. Women also may not drive, nor may they speak to any male who is not her husband or a relative. Because of this, millions of Americans are extremely reluctant to allow and endorse immigration from the Middle East, especially of migrant Muslims.