Immigration policy has always been a thorny issue in democratic America, warming the market from within and extending that influence to international relations. Rapid and positive changes in the political game between immigrants and the U.S. government are impossible because of people’s legal and social adaptability. Many of the problems that come with immigration arise because of the complex procedural system and the cultural beliefs about immigrants, especially those from the East and Latin America (Frasure-Yokley & Wilcox-Archuleta, 2019). The U.S. has a complex economic system in which immigrants fit in as an additional source of spending, which hurts the state of the gross product. But the responsibility for big-spending lies with the government segment because it is up to the government to create affordable immigration opportunities and to have integrity in denying them.
First-generation immigrants who moved after independence quickly obtained citizenship, but gradually the process became more complicated, leading to the emergence of social movements for their rights. Although the U.S. switched to a more liberal approach to immigration policy in 1965, the process of obtaining citizenship or residency, as well as work and tourist visas, is now much more difficult. Since 1996 there has been legislation on work and pension restrictions for immigrants, and since 2010 the migrant quota has gradually decreased. As a result, this has put the immigration issue on the agenda and led to social movements.
Illegal residents’ mistreatment in the US is a widely underreported human rights concern. Due to their immigration status, the vast numbers or more undocumented immigrants residing in the country are denied fundamental labor rights, movement, education, and public services. Immigrants working in low-wage sectors, including agricultural work, hotels, restaurants, and cleaning services, are exposed to labor exploitation and live in constant fear of being dismissed or deported. In the US, a robust social movement has been formed to shield these immigrants from persecution and numerous examples of overly harsh immigration policies, as well as to campaign for reform that could give undocumented immigrants a road to citizenship.
Since the previous round of immigration legislation in the 1980s, the organization has expanded and proved its strength via a series of rallies and peaceful activities that have captivated national media coverage since 2004. Anti-immigration laws introduced by the Republican-controlled Congress in the US House of Representatives sparked a surge in movement activities in the spring of 2006. If this bill had passed the Senate and become law, it would have enhanced enforcement of harsh immigration policies, reduced social assistance and academic possibilities for illegal immigrants, and penalized service providers that helped them (Bolter, 2022). About two million individuals came to the streets in several of the greatest mass protests in American history to oppose the measure.
A number of media reports state that over a million people marched for miles in the greatest demonstration in the history of Los Angeles. Students staged strikes in which tens of thousands of students walked out of high schools and colleges to express their dissatisfaction with immigration policies. Millions of others also took part in a one-day walkout, refusing to go to work, school, or shop in stores as part of a larger strike attempt. The Bush Administration’s continuous oppressive action against immigrant populations, including workplace raids, workplace verification, and municipal enforcement agreements, resulted in a substantial change in voting trends amongst Latinos in the US.
Legal and Political Framework
During the presidency of Obama, the immigration sphere was regulated by presidential executive orders. Thus, in 2012, according to a presidential decree, the deportation of children who entered illegally with their parents was not allowed for two years. In November 2014, by presidential decree, the deferment of children from deportation was extended for another three years. Immigration has become one of the main topics of President Donald Trump’s election promises. They came down to all sorts of bans on entry into the United States, including a ban on the entry of Muslims, an increase in the number of border guards, and the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico (Jawets, 2019). Since his election, Trump has issued several executive orders, including banning citizens from seven countries – Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela – from entering the country.
In 2018, Congress attempted to pass new legislation that would preserve B. Obama’s decision to ban the deportation of children. According to it, more than 2 million illegal migrants were subject to amnesty, but the law was not adopted. In his election program, the new president, Biden, gave a significant place to the problems of immigration. After his election, he canceled the decrees adopted by Trump banning citizens of a number of Muslim and African countries from entering the United States. In 2021, he instructed the Domestic Policy Council to develop a naturalization program and restore confidence in the legal immigration system (Krogstat & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2022). The construction of a wall on the border with Mexico was also canceled. A working group was set up to deal with the problem of the reunification of children of immigrants separated from their parents. Another initiative of Biden is to increase the quota for refugees from 22.4 thousand to 125 thousand people a year. The proposed Citizenship Act would modernize the country’s entire immigration system.
In the American political arena, there are different views, approaches, positions regarding the future of legal immigration to the United States. If some argue that Americans should remain a nation of immigrants, then others are sure that the level of legal immigration should be minimized, and illegal should be fought. Underlying these approaches are vastly different concepts of American national unity and nationhood. Disputes also continue about whether immigration is an economic boom and a condition for socio-economic growth or, conversely, a heavy economic burden, contributing to the preservation and expansion of welfare. If some American conservatives consider the USA as a “universal nation” open to all who share certain political and philosophical principles, then another part of them believe that the American nation is united around a certain ethnic culture-historical tradition (Felter, et al., 2021). Recently, arguments from the ethnocultural field have increasingly been present in the disputes of conservatives on the immigration issue.
Opponents and supporters of immigration use different ways of expressing their position. Supporters of nativism use tactics related to social welfare and the cultural divide. In particular, nativists resort to a tactical game of anticipation. Instead of assuming that immigrants can improve economic stability and bring helpful cultural experiences, they claim imminent negative consequences. Immigration advocates use the tactic of favoring immigrants by pointing to the economic opportunities of immigration. In particular, they propose strategic objectives for embedding academics and investors in global processes. It means that human rights activists and concerned people use the strategy of accepting immigrants as human resources for the development of society.
In the end, it should be noted that immigrant affairs may be viewed from the perspective of structural functionalism. According to the latter, “the institutions, relationships, roles, and norms that together constitute a society serves a purpose, and each is indispensable for the continued existence of the others and of society as a whole” (Britannica, 2022, para. 1). It was said that immigrants – if approached properly – can serve as a significant element of the US economic development, bringing benefits to society.
Various social theories and models have developed around immigration that view society from different perspectives, shaping perceptions of the nation. Three sociological perspectives describe society’s attitudes toward immigrants based on personal or other characteristics. For example, symbolic interactionism shapes citizens’ negative images of immigrants, fueled by state or independent media. It can be seen in U.S. Hispanic immigration: Spanish, a different emotional temperament, and behavioral traits are portrayed in an unpleasant light, causing U.S. citizens to believe that Hispanics are inadequate as human beings. Against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s migration policies and Mexican immigrants, it is clear that society has primarily shaped its attitudes toward Latinos.
Social conflict theory is the most grounded behavioral theory of the colonial masses. It describes a society that constantly needs to compete for resources and opportunities to control other communities. There are conflicts in the workplace and the notion that immigration can shake the economic state and create an unemployment market (Cabaniss & Cameron, 2018). However, this is not true because the number of jobs available to immigrants is reduced, and not all jobs are available. The structural functionalism theory refers to the claim that society functions as long as there are people capable of performing the essential functions of a community. Therefore, immigrants should be seen as an additional force that can contribute to stable, developing communities because immigrants have valuable skills to carry out activities.
Ninety percent of illegal immigrants are on the public dole. Why are we giving welfare benefits to people who aren’t citizens?
Immigration is a system-forming factor in the development of society and the economy in the United States. It maintains the scale of the population and the labor force at the required level is a factor that regulates the balance of labor supply and demand in individual markets. The contribution of immigration to the development of the scientific and technological potential of the United States to the creation of a science-intensive business is especially great.
Immigrant benefits are the first opportunity to get back on your feet and make a difference in society. Immigration, more often than not, is not because of the good life (especially from the East and Mexico), so people need legal help. In the future, human resources in immigrants will be opportunities for the United States because they can offer them valuable skills. Therefore, according to the structural functionalism theory mentioned earlier, staying immigrants can contribute significantly to America’s economic stability and cultural diversity.
Mexicans are taking away our jobs. What is the best way to stop them?
It might be assumed that the best way in this vein is not to stop them at all. The US, being a universal culture and the world leader, is to develop its economy so that there could be workplaces for both citizens and immigrants. The responsibility for the welfare of the citizens of a democratic state lies with the government. The U.S. has a solid legislative system and many options, so all that is required is a responsible approach.
Bolter, J. (2022). Immigration has been a defining, often contentious, element throughout U.S. history. Migration Policy Institute. Web.
Britannica. (2022). Structural functionalism. Web.
Cabaniss, E. R., & Cameron, A. E. (2018). Toward a social psychological understanding of migration and assimilation. Humanity & Society, 42(2), 171-192. Web.
Felter, C., Renwick, D., & Cheatham, A. (2021). The U.S. immigration debate. Council on Foreign Relations. Web.
Frasure-Yokley, L., & Wilcox-Archuleta, B. (2019). Geographic identity and attitudes toward undocumented immigrants. Political Research Quarterly, 72(4), 944–959.
Jawets, T. (2019). Restoring the rule of law through a fair, humane, and workable immigration system. CAP. Web.
Krogstat, J. M., & Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2022). Key facts about U.S. immigration policies and Biden’s proposed changes. Pew Research Center. Web.