This Wiki will explain many different facets of immigration in the United States. These issues of immigration are not new, and have a long history of public debate, but still are focused on in many realms of debate. The economy has been greatly affected, both positively and negatively by immigration, and our political system is under constant influence based on the major trends. With powerful groups such as the Minuteman Project and Reform Immigration for America, it is difficult to tell what immigration policies will look like in the future. It in known that many issues around the border could be avoided though if changes to immigration policy are made.
Immigration is a global issue that is embedded with historical, economic, and political connotations. Although migration has had a long, prosperous global history, the political reaction the United States has had on Mexican immigration is to create a physical barrier, the border. The border itself has many implications, and complicates the issue of immigration.
While the construction of the border is contrary to trends of global migration, the United States has a history of prejudice towards migrants that culminates with the construction of the Border. Economically, many misconceptions exist about the effect of immigrants to the US economy. These misconceptions purport much misleading information that detracts from the significant contributions migrant labor force has had to the United States economy.
The economics of immigration are significantly intertwined with the North American Free Trade Agreement; the relationship between migrants and NAFTA having had significant impacts on the economies of both the United States and Mexico. The debate over migration has given birth to political factions that either seek to aide migrants or seek to enforce border laws. The topic of immigration in the larger politics of Washington has seen little attention, however new developments are arising to address immigration and attempt to resolve the conflict occurring.
The US political stance on immigration with the construction of the border and border enforcement purports depictions of immigrants that not only contrasts with the natural history of global migration, but one that also contradicts the economic benefits the United States economy has experienced as a result of migrant labor. It is necessary for immigration to become the topic for political discussion in order to eliminate the misconceptions of migrants that are responsible for the counter intuitive construction of the border.
Globalization and BoundariesEdit
Globalization describes the increasingly prevalent process of integration that involves the “merging economies and cultures through world trade”; this integrated global environment is further perpetuated by developments in technology and communication (Ganster and Lorey XV). An integral part of the globalization process is migration. The cyclical migration of people involves the transfer of culture to and from countries; migrants not only bring their home culture with them, influencing the environments they inhabit, but they also bring their foreign-assimilated culture back to their home country. Globalization has weakened “boundaries between economies and cultures”, however “political borders separating peoples” are counterintuitive to the progression of an increasingly globalized society (Ganster and Lorey XV).Migration has prevalence in larger global history as a natural process; the nomadic style of life is an example of social collectivity characterized by the constant moving of peoples.
Becoming the ImmigrantEdit
Relevant to the categorization of Mexican immigrants as illegal in history of construction of boundaries and borders is United States expansion in the form of colonization, “Manifest Destiny”, that is responsible for the displacement and domination of Mexican people.
Between 1820 and 1850, Americans were encouraged to expand West in the spirit of Manifest Destiny in order to obtain the American Dream of land ownership and freedom. A tempting frontier for American expansion included many areas that were provinces of Mexico that were inhabited by native Mexicans. A large part of former Mexico, Texas, was annexed by the United States as a conquest for agricultural gains. The U.S.-Mexico war is also responsible for the United State’s conquest of Mexican land, all in the name of Manifest Destiny. The Treaty of Guadalupe provisioned over half of Mexican territory to the United States government,forcing the displacement of people who had been inhabiting land for centuries. The displacement of the Mexican people affected their socio-economic and industrial development for the years following the cession of Mexican land, creating endless cycles of poverty and shortage. The Mexican immigrant has justification for escaping these cycles of poverty once understood as a result of United States expansion and conquest, simply for the sake of dominance.
The Economics of ImmigrationEdit
Immigration has a new language in modern economic discussion, largely because NAFTA has significantly altered the history of economic integration in North America and, as an unintended result, immigration between the United States and Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement was an economic union between the North Americas established in the 1990s that created many new systems of economic interaction and exchange that greatly impacted the lives of all North Americans in unpredictable ways. While many benefits of industry, production, and profit have come from NAFT, the treaty's displacement of people and impoverishment of many Mexican laborers places economic pressures to migrate to the United States. The pressure immigrants feel is directly associated with American econmicc and social policy.
Economic Misconceptions: Edit
In regards to economic misconceptions revolving around immigration, there are many beliefs that are held by Americans that simply are not true about the economic impact of immigration. When immigrants are viewed as a drain on economics, in reality, immigrants contribute more to the economy than their fair share would dictate. These misconceptions revolve around three major categories, 1) Taxes and Public services, 2) The economy and job market, and 3) Border security and funding, all of which are impacted in some way by United States policy. These categories display common beliefs by many Americans who oppose immigration, however, the data shows that immigration does not hurt the economy, but instead greatly aids the economy.
According to “Immigration Policy Center” (2010), people who are anti-immigration tend to believe that immigrants do not pay any form of taxes. This is a myth that has no actual truth around it and is discredited by the data. In reality, immigrants pay taxes in the forms of income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and at the federal and state levels. Immigrants pay between $90 billion and $140 billion a year in taxes combined (Immigration Policy Center, 2010). Additionally, there is a widely held belief that these immigrants receive government assistance without even paying into the system of welfare. In fact, research shows that immigrants pay up to $30 billion more in taxes than the roughly $5 billion they receive in public benefits, which means that the other roughly $25 billion goes to Americans who are on the same system. Also, there seems to be a belief that immigrants just take money out of the economy and send it to their home countries. While many immigrants are earning money to send home to their families, $162 billion in tax revenue is put directly into the U.S. economy from the labor of the immigrants. (Immigration Policy Center, 2010).
With the net gains in tax revenue, as opposed to immigrants being seen as just benefiting from government policy instead of a contributing, there are similar myths around the job market. According to “Immigration Policy Center”, “The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900’s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth” (2010). There is a net benefit of nearly $10 billion annually to the U.S. economy because of immigration. Additionally, many immigrants who join the workforce are eligible to work (70%), and there was no money spent on a lot of their education while income taxes contribute to social security funds.
Finally, one could see a major economic drain not due to the fault of immigrants themselves, but instead by wasteful spending by the U.S. government. Between 1986 and 1998, the budget for border patrol increased by 600%. While this was effective in providing a few thousand jobs, immigration across the border doubled in the same timeframe. By building a fence to stop immigration, the United States has spent more money that is less effective while spending billions of dollars.
Political Activism Edit
After covering a brief history of immigration, and then discussing economic benefits and myths surrounding immigration, it is now time in this wiki to talk about the current hot-button issue that is the politics around immigration. There are large advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, on one hand there is the right-wing nationalist groups who support strong borders and deportation, and on the other hand there are groups who promote amnesty for immigrants. These many voices have help shape recent immigration policy, and although there is still work to be done, President Obama’s recent executive order may be the first domino in a series of legislation for or against the progress of immigration reform.
The first group to address is a group called the Minutemen. The Minuteman Project was co-founded by Jim Gilchrist and is an organization that is made of volunteers who are opposed to ‘illegal immigration’. Their most recent project, “Operation Normandy”, which will begin in May of 2015, is said to be a way to protect the United States from foreign invasion. According to Gilchrist, “If you are familiar with the Normandy invasion of France in 1944, then you have an idea how large and logistically complicated this event will be… However, there is one difference. We are not going to the border to invade anyone. We are going there to stop an invasion”. (RT, 2014). Many minutemen believe the myths listed above, and are volunteering out of belief in false doctrine. The “Minuteman Project” was founded in 2005, and made a name for themselves when they began sending armed volunteers to the border. The minutemen are taught that the government of the United States has failed in its protection of citizens, and it is their job to make up the difference.
Conversely, the group known as “Reform Immigration for America” has helped promote many events that encourage a change to the current system of immigration. They believe that there should be a totally inclusive path to citizenship for people who work in America without papers. Additionally, they promote family unity and believe that families should not be separated by international borders. All of these beliefs are rooted in a belief in fundamental human rights that protect people from not being able to survive in a humane way. Their most recent campaigns include calling for immigration on a federal level and a new system of immigration that “treats families with respect and dignity, strengthens our workforce and economy, and provides the next generation equal opportunities to education and prosperity”(2012). This group, and many others, are making progress towards their goals. Even President Obama’s most recent executive order generally aims to shift the American system of immigration. Although this concept is fairly new, it is known that immigration will be a major topic over the next few years, and a topic that only increases in importance as the problems continue to mount.
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