In terms of immigration history and patterns, the USA has always been the most popular destination for immigrants seeking a permanent home in another country. The US has been well known as being the world’s melting pot of cultures and since the earliest days in its history, America has been seen as a nation of immigrants. Interestingly, over the years, the nature of the makeup of America’s new citizens has been changing.
The shift has occurred from European pioneers to Asian and Hispanic immigrants who have added to the talents and skills of the world’s largest economy. There are over 60 different kinds of nonpermanent visas that are available for short visits to the US, but an immigration visa is difficult to get since it involves a lot of bureaucratic procedures and delays.
The movement of people from one country to another is called immigration and implies that the person immigrating to another country is going to stay there permanently with a lien in due course on all the rights that a normal citizen of that country enjoys. It implies long-term residence in a new country permanently and is different from short-term residence whereby expatriates make a temporary home in a new country on account of business or job exigencies.
There are several cases of people who violate the immigration laws of countries and continue to overstay their visit periods to that country and it is these people who are called illegal immigrants. Immigration regulation is essential to check and prevent the misuse of immigration laws. Residency of people who are not citizens of the US has often been the subject of immigration regulations, and it has now become a major political issue, whereby pressure is exerted not only from within the country but also from outside to accommodate undeserving candidates for immigration on political, cultural and social grounds.
Recent trends have shown that the incidence of immigration into the US is constantly on the rise, as is evident from the available data. Between 1971 and 1980, the US naturalized 1.5 million immigrants mainly from countries such as the Philippines, Cuba, and China.
During the 80s, there were over 2.3 million naturalizations, the majority being from Canada, Asia, and Mexico. Since 2001, there have been more than 4.1 million people who have immigrated and received naturalization, and during this period a major shift has been in the large number of Indians who have migrated to the US. This rising trend has prompted the US government to formulate stricter and more exhaustive rules and regulations to check the unwarranted inflow of people who may prove to be an economic burden on the nation in addition to creating social and political complications. Hence there is now an exhaustive regulatory process before a person can be granted permission to shift residence to the US.
There are several reasons for people to immigrate to the USA. People often emigrate from their country of origin on economic grounds since the US offers higher wages and a better standard of living. Natural disasters and excess population in the home country often prompt such people to migrate to another country. Sometimes emigration becomes essential due to contractual obligations arising out of jobs that require people to work outside their home country.
Others wish to emigrate to another country to achieve higher educational qualifications and then prefer to stay back in the host country as an immigrant with the further scope of becoming citizens in due course. Some also wish to change their home to another country on health grounds to have a healthier lifestyle.
There are also non-economic factors that often push people to shift to another nation on account of religious persecution, oppression, or in extreme cases genocide and warlike situations when people are forced to run away for the safety of life for themselves and family. It is for these reasons that the USA has one of the most skilled workforces in the world. Many countries are faced with the situation of managing immigration issues effectively which requires exhaustive regulation, and they assess their priorities in this regard by looking at emulating the experience and expertise of the United States.
Sometimes migration also happens for personal reasons such as unification with family or due to marriage with a citizen of the host country. There are several instances in the US of families being united after a long separation, especially in the case of aged parents joining to live with their children who have been granted naturalization. However, sometimes complications arise due to immigration regulations for all such people and they are put to extreme hardships on account of hurdles arising on account of regulations not being complied by them.
Often natural calamities and other political situations compel people to seek refuge in other countries but since they do not comply with the immigration regulations, they are denied entry and hence have to suffer a lot. Essentially these are the people who suffer the most on account of immigration regulations being implemented without looking into the vulnerabilities of specific cases.
Currently, almost all countries are alive to the problems arising due to immigration regulations, but they cannot be diluted at the cost of the security and political and economic stability of the country. Often international summit meetings are held between leaders of like-minded countries to make the immigration law more tolerant between friendly nations, and improvements have been made.
However, immigration is a delicate issue since it is sometimes misused in the US by anti-social elements to seek refuge in the garb of political asylum and protection policies of the USA. But such cases are examined carefully before approval is given to them for immigration. This is a continuous process and nations are always attempting to find ways to either make the process more simple and tolerant or it may be made strict due to excessive applications.
Many activists in the US have taken up the issue of speaking out against the indiscriminate immigration that is happening in the country, which they believe will in due course, grossly change and adversely impact the social structure of the country. The activists claim that the government is indifferent to this social cause and continues to force US citizens to accept millions of new entrants who they say will eventually prove to be a burden on the economy. They have alleged that the media is also responsible for withholding actual information regarding immigration and its adverse effects due to the immigration laws.
It is believed by such protagonists that the US people are not here to save the world on the widely held belief that they will always be better off than the rest of the world, and that this virtually amounts to a hate crime against future generations. US social organizations argue that ultimately the world must save itself and it is dangerous to allow such inflow constantly. On this basis, a drastic change in immigration regulation needs to be initiated, as is already evident from the comments of US Senator and presidential candidate, that he would make immigration issues one of his top priorities during the first month of his presidency.
Immigration regulation must be made liberal in nations where it is sought on social grounds related to gender exploitation, for those seeking political asylum on genuine grounds, for family reunification, on need-based grounds due to transnational marriages and retirement migration sought to gain from the high quality of life in countries such as the USA. Hence nations, and the USA in particular, will have to play a more responsible role in meeting the genuine requirements of immigration seekers who will surely facilitate stability in the social structure of the nation.
Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, 2002. Web.
Laws, Regulations and Guides, US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Web.
Tobe Liebert, Immigration Laws, Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas School of Law. Web.