Immigration in the United States

By | July 30, 2021

Last Updated on by Admin LB

Immigration in the United States is a trending matter of contention. Approximately, 13% of the total US population is not born natively in America, and about 25% of the American population can be considered as the immigrants who have migrated recently to the State.

Immigration comes with a fear coupled with innate prejudice, there are studies that show that immigrants contribute to a positive balance to the economy and societal standards of the United States. There is hardly any evidence that shows that immigrants have had a negative impact on wages and jobs of native Americans.

Moreover, there is a general blanket statement thrown when it comes to the immigrants and their children which leads to cultural and societal imbalances.


Immigration includes moving to another country with the intention on settling there for all time subsequent to leaving your own nation of citizenship. By and large, immigrants proceed to get citizenship of the other country. Travelers, foreign scholars, and other people who visit or dwell in a nation briefly are not viewed as immigrants.

The United Nations in the year 2017 announced an overall estimate of 258 million individuals living in a nation other than the one where they initially held citizenship, incorporating individuals who moved in earlier years. US has been the world’s driving objective for immigrants since 1960.

United States in the year 2016 facilitated almost 50 million foreign residents, including lawful perpetual residents (LPRs), undocumented immigrants, and naturalized citizens, as per UN assessments. In correlation, the three nations with the following most elevated foreign populations, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the Russian Federation, host 12 million individuals each.

Foreign-conceived residents, be that as it may, represent under 15% of the US populace, while the greater part of the populations of a few Middle Eastern countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, are foreign-conceived.[1]

The United States is, by and by, amidst a time of immigration. In 2010, there were 40 million foreign-conceived people living in the United States[2]. Of the 220 million worldwide travelers on the planet in 2010—characterized as people living external their country of birthright around one out of five were residents in the United States (UN Population Division 2013).

A considerably bigger number, as many as 75 million people in the United States, right around one-fourth of the current inhabitant American populace—is essential for the settler local area, characterized as foreign conceived and the offspring of the foreign conceived (U.S. Agency of the Census 2010).[3]

Historical Immigration in the United States

As the United States rose up out of previous British provinces populated by European settlers, African slaves, and their relatives, movement to North America has been vital to the personality of the country.

Not long after getting autonomy from Great Britain, the United States passed the Naturalization Act of 1790, the country’s first immigration law, which applied uniquely to white individuals and expected people to live in the country for a very long time to be naturalized.

However, the residency prerequisite changed through resulting enactment, the principal critical change happened in 1868 when Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which stretched out citizenship to anybody born in the United States, including previous slaves.

The central government expanded naturalization rights through the Naturalization Act of 1870 however just to African immigrants, building up legal legitimization for preventing the choice from getting citizenship to non-white immigrants who were not from Africa.[4]

In 1882 the national government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which restricted all Chinese workers from entering the United States until its cancellation in 1943. This law was the sole time the central government prohibited the number of inhabitants in a whole country from section outside of wartime until President Donald Trump proposed travel restrictions on seven Muslim-dominant countries in 2017.

The Chinese Exclusion Act mirrored a developing worry among certain Americans that immigration required extra guideline. During the late nineteenth century, Congress additionally passed enactment forbidding indicted lawbreakers, sex workers, the mentally sick, and transients considered unequipped for really focusing on themselves.[5]

Motivations and Impact

There are several reasons why people decide to leave their countries and live in an altogether different country as they either face untenable circumstances or persecution in their country of origin. Majority of the migrants fleeing to the US do so because they are political or religious persecuted.

In these circumstances, there are two options left for these prospective migrants: either stay as a refugee or a political asylum grantee. But getting such recognition is not a cup of tea, as more often than not, this procedure takes several years.

The other lot the migrates to the US is due to economic opportunities. They are mostly pulled by the nation’s business friendly environment coupled with higher paying job opportunities.[6]

If one dates back to the historical immigration, the major chunk of the population that used to migrate to the United States was attracted by the fertile land and the advancement in industries. The contemporary economic immigrant is drawn mainly by the high rewarding IT jobs, construction industry, businesses and corporate jobs.

As per the findings of the US Department of Labour’s Bureau of Labour Statistics, in 2017, 17.1% of the total workforce in America comprised of immigrants.

It is not the host country that is affected, but the origin countries do take a toll as well. When eligible people choose to migrate to a different nation, there occurs a situation of “brain drain”, which means that the country of origin loses the capable industrious population.

However, on the flip side, the countries of origin flourish economically from remittances that is sent from immigrants to their homes. As per the World Bank, a staggering $66 billion left the United States in form of remittances in the year 2016.

Legal Immigration Issues

Individuals who mean to legitimately move to the US should apply for a visa at a US department or government office. The application cycle incorporates a meeting, criminal personal investigation, audit of monetary data, and a clinical examination. Candidates additionally require sponsorship from a US resident or legitimate lasting occupant, ordinarily a family member or business.

Hopeful immigrants who need explicit, popular work abilities or who are not close family members of a legitimate US occupant might apply through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which gives upwards of 50,000 visas every year through a lottery framework to residents of countries with low paces of immigration.

Such candidates should present another request every year, and many wait years prior to getting a visa. Those escaping difficult circumstances or abuse can likewise apply for asylum or refugee status.[7] These inclinations have confronted a few reactions, prodding calls for change.

Giving visas to the close relatives of legitimate US residents, usually alluded to as family reunification, has drawn judgment from pundits, including President Donald Trump, who stress that such inclinations will prompt an interminable inventory of immigrants, referring to fears of “chain movement” without proof to help their cases.

The law really restricts family reunification inclinations to the mates, guardians, or the unmarried offspring of a lawful lasting inhabitant. Further reactions against family reunification keep up with that the inclination supports the immigration of individuals who might need formal training or viable occupation abilities.

Numerous societies, nonetheless, including the United States, place a high worth on family connections. Family-supported immigration represents the biggest segment of effective candidates.[8]

As per the DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 238,087 immigrants got lawful lasting occupant status through family-supported inclination in FY2016, 137,893 immigrants got their status through business-based inclination, and 157,425 immigrants got either refugee status or asylum that very year.

While a few pundits have asked for a decrease in the number of lawful immigrants permitted into the country, advocates for keeping up with or expanding the measure of lawful immigration fight that doing as such debilitate unlawful immigration. Such support additionally perceives the social and financial commitments of the US migrant populace.

Illegal Immigration Issues

In the present-day world, one of the major problems faced by the United States is the issue of illegal immigration.[9] Ex-President Trump, during his electoral campaign, made illegal immigration a central focus, with the intention to curb the inflow of the illegal exodus.

He went on to mock the American immigration system and labeled Mexican immigrants as offenders, drug traffickers and thieves. A major contention during his campaign was to build a wall across the border of US and Mexico and had proposed numerous strategies through which the same could be funded.

There is an eminent issue of illegal immigration, majorly dependant on weak border security, fanaticising sanctuary cities, and a heavy exodus influx from less developed nations in search of job opportunities and a better standard of living. In addition to this, the US government, in the year 2017, called for reducing the legal immigration to the United States.[10]


[1] Archdeacon Thomas J. Becoming American: An Ethnic History. New York: The Free Press; 1983.

[2] Grieco et al. 2012.

[3] Borjas George J. Economic theory and international migration. International Migration Review. 1989;23(3):457–485.

[4] Briggs Vernon. Immigration Policy and the American Labor Force. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1984.

[5] Carter Susan, Sutch Richard. Historical background to current immigration issues. In: Smith James P, Edmonston Barry., editors. The Immigration Debate: Studies on the Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999. pp. 289–366.

[6] Card David. The impact of the Muriel Boatlift on the Miami labor market. Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 1990;43:245–257.

[7] Card David. Is the new immigration really so bad? Economic Journal. 2005;115:F300–F323.

[8] Duncan Beverly, Duncan Otis Dudley. Minorities and the process of stratification. American Sociological Review. 1968;33:356–364.

[9] Feliciano Cynthia. Does selective migration matter” explaining ethnic disparities in educational attainment among immigrant children. International Migration Review. 2005a;39:841–871.

[10] Fuligni Andrew J, Witknow Melissa. The postsecondary educational progress of youth from immigrant families. Journal of Research on Adolescence. 2004;14:159–183.

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Author: Antariksh Anant

Antariksh is a Law student at RGNUL - Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Patiala, Punjab, India.

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