The USA Immigration Reform From 1995 to Present Day

Abstract

In the paper, the immigration process in the United States of America has been discussed. The immigration process in the United States is fairly complicated and it consists of various rules and regulations. You would find thousands of immigration lawyers in the United States, who would be willing to file your application forms and help you obtain a visa of your choice. But it is also possible for an individual to seek a US visa without bothering to pay the lawyer’s fee?

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A brief introduction

The immigration process in the United States is fairly complicated and it consists of various rules and regulations. You would find thousands of immigration lawyers in the United States, who would be willing to file your application forms and help you obtain a visa of your choice. But it is also possible for an individual to seek a US visa without bothering to pay the lawyer’s fee? Well, this can be obtained through the means of the self-application procedure, which in turn, needs to be backed by a reputed consultancy firm. Individuals can also make use of USA immigration guidelines, which can be downloaded through the help of related websites.

Immigration to the United States is not an easy process and most individuals need to avail themselves of the non-immigrant visitor visa, which could either be a B-1 Business Visa or a B-2 Tourist Visa, to visit the United States to avail a temporary stay. People who marry a US citizen and those who have plans to invest in the United States may apply for an immigrant’s visa, which is also referred to as a green card. Thereafter, they can start working and staying in the United States as permanent citizens.

The overall process of obtaining both an immigrant as well as a non-immigrant visa is complicated and it involves various procedures and a substantial fee. While some people follow the normal path and undergo rules and regulations, others try the shortcut method and force entry into the United States through illegal procedures. Nonetheless, people from all across the globe continue to strive and gain the necessary permits to work in a country that is often hailed as, “The Land of Opportunities.”

The basic procedures

In case you happen to be a foreign national, you would be required to obtain a valid visa if you aspire to traverse the length and breadth of the United States. This is called the visitors’ visa. Certain countries offer the Visa Waiver Program and allow foreigners to enter the USA through the means of a machine-readable passport. Most nations need to obtain either a B-1 Business Visa or a B-2 Tourist Visa, well in advance. Those individuals who are entering the United States for a temporary visit are provided with a non-immigrant visa. There is also a second category of visa called the K-1 Fiance Visa, wherein visitors can migrate for legal migration.

Methods to obtain a green card

There are several ways through which an individual can hope to obtain a green card. Through the means of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the fifty-five thousand immigrants who are selected for this lucky lottery system need to simply undergo the application process. This is a yearly process through which applicants from across the world are encouraged to take an active interest in the process of participating in the lottery.

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Another way of obtaining a green card is through the means of an employer who resides in the United States or it could also be possible if the applicant’s family is residing as permanent residents in the United States. There are separate categories wherein certain sections allow a limited number of green card distributions, such as family-based immigration visas whereas the fiancés of the US citizen have no upper restriction on the total number of visas that can be issued in a given year.

More information on green cards

Individuals who have a valid green card have the privilege of retaining the citizenship of the country wherein they were born and brought up. Individuals who are holding green cards are eligible for applying for permanent American citizenship but they can only do so after holding a valid green card for a certain number of years. The United States also allows its citizens to hold dual or double citizenship. The green card, which is also called the United States Permanent Resident Card, got its name because of its green color.

At the same time, obtaining a green card and holding US citizenship are very different. Individuals who have been issued a green card can hold on to a green card for ten years, after which they again need to reapply in a bid to get it renewed. Individuals who have gotten married to individuals who possess a valid green card are also eligible to apply for a green card and even those who have invested in the United States can do the same, provided they agree to renew their green card membership after two years.

In case an individual possesses a green card and his/her membership is about to expire, he/she needs to submit a Green Card Renewal application. In case the individual forgets and possesses a Green Card that has already expired, he/she is in serious trouble.

An individual can hope to obtain a United States citizenship either through the virtue of his/her birth or through the process of neutralization. Green Card holders can obtain Neutralization by becoming eligible for US citizenship. The moment an individual obtains US citizenship, he/she must surrender the green card immediately.

Literature Review

Through the means of this paper, we would be throwing light on the basic parameters of immigration laws that exist in the United States of America. While there have been numerous instances wherein people from across the globe have begun their march for obtaining legal citizenship of the United States, only a handful have actually managed to achieve their goals. At the same time, there has also been a growing cause for concern over the alleged involvement of certain anti-national elements who are interested in allowing people from bordering countries, such as Mexico, Panama, and Cuba, to come and settle in the United States through illegal means. While the illegal migrant trade is said to be thriving, there have been solid steps on the part of the government to try and step pace with regards to curbing this menace (Jay, 1997).

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The paper also discusses the basis of immigration, with special regards to the existing laws in the United States of America. There has also been an attempt to showcase the plight of certain catastrophes that have been formulated through the means of this alleged illegal immigrant trade. At the same time, the paper has discussed the basis of immigration and the procedures which are considered imperative for allowing individuals to obtain permanent citizenship of a country that has been recognized as the “Land Of Opportunities” (Jay, 1997).

Citizenship allows an individual to vote in elections, run in public office, apply for government jobs, allow family members to immigrate, allow unmarried children to move to the United States, avail social security benefits, hold dual citizenships, and possess an American passport. A citizen is also not responsible to renew his/her green card, fear deportation, avail financial aids from the government, and be relaxed regarding the US immigration laws.

The problem of illegal migration

In recent years, there has been a serious debate regarding the failing immigration which is controlled by the Federal agencies. The local and state agencies went a step further and sparked a nationwide debate demanding the Federal agencies to reform the existing immigration laws to ease the existing situation of illegal immigration. The local and state bodies also refused to accept the additional burden and categorically stated that they ought to be refunded for their alleged losses by the Federal agencies.

In recent years, several states have gone ahead and sued Federal agencies to provide monetary benefits to recoup the costs for having to pay for the social service charges to illegal immigrants. Federal concessions have also been extracted through the means of the “chorus of complaints”. The states succeeded in their mission to obtain Federal financial aid to offset a portion of the cost which was paid through the provision of social service benefits to illegal immigrants. Besides, they also managed to convince Congress as well as the president to reform the existing Federal laws (Jay, 1997).

According to the latest reforms, the local, as well as the state governments, were granted greater powers to utilize Federal immigration laws in their favor. Owing to these reforms, the local, as well as the state government, succeeded in attaining a feeling of respite, which was otherwise not possible. Likewise, the authorities were also able to amass large amounts of funds through the means of Federal Grants. This money was then utilized in paying off the bills which occurred through the payment of social service benefits to illegal migrants (Jay, 1997).

Should local government exercise their immigration authority?

By the INA’s historical provisions, the local government has the right to exercise and enforce federal immigration laws. It needs to be noted that despite the state as well as the local bodies having the right to exercise their power, they simply cannot hope to become the police, with regards to being part-time immigration officers. They can exercise their powers based on local as well as individual circumstances. Even before a state or a local body is about to exercise their authority, they need to first understand whether their actions are cost-effective or not. Here are a few considerations to this seemingly deliberate process.

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The economic factors

Whenever the Federal government fails to execute the illegal immigration laws appropriately, the local, as well as the state government, are placed under severe pressure. While analyzing their problems, the local, as well as the state governments, should look beyond their financial burdens. The right to actively enforce INA is greatly dissipated when the immigration reforms put a lot of financial pressure on the local as well as the state governments. There was a time wherein the local, as well as the state governments, took advantage of the subsidies provided by the congress but after the reforms, the cost of enforcing local immigration laws have superseded the financial benefits, thereby causing a great financial deficit.

To ease the financial burden, the local, as well as state government authorities, need to train their officers through specialized courses, procure specialized enforcement equipment and allow the officers to expose themselves to greater safety risks. Therefore, the local and state governments need to weigh all costs with a civil right as well as the voters’ sentiments, in relation to immigration enforcement.

The civil rights concerns

It has been noticed that as most illegal migrants belong to the minority group, the local and state governments need to try and focus their attention on the development of those minorities. The implementation of immigration enforcement laws would increase the confrontation amongst the state, the local as well as minority groups. The local governments nonetheless, need to be well prepared to utilize the resources in a bid to prevent the occurrence of civil rights violation as an abuse of an individual’s civil rights is inimical for the entire society.

Even when there are very few cases of human rights violations, the local as well as the state governments need to make an effort and increase the existing level of awareness by raising public concerns regarding civil rights violations. This would allow local governments to raise immigration enforcement. In the case of heightened confrontation, excessive policing may lead to the infringement of an individual’s constitutional rights.

Public opinion

The general public sentiment regarding the immigration laws is in the favor of a change. It needs to be noted that the overall support pertaining to such reforms is certainly not universal in nature and certain specific proposals vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There have been instances wherein the local leaders have prevented local as well as the state bodies from actively participating in the formulation as well as execution of certain immigration reforms. Since the reforms are directly linked to the state as well as local jurisdiction, the concerned bodies need to take into account the demands of the citizens before passing an order of execution. Likewise, the local, as well as the state bodies, are under no compulsion to dedicate their resources towards the formulation of federal policies.

The recent immigration reforms

The recent reforms as denoted in the INA are supposed to be based on facts and not myths. Hence, they need to be welcomed by both the states as well as the local bodies although they choose to enforce the INA enforcement laws or not. The local, as well as state bodies, should consider the model as an effective solution to the current immigration problems. In the recent past, Congress had been compelling both states as well as the local authorities to divert their financial resources towards the execution of immigration laws but after a recent supreme court ruling, Congress has been denied the powers to do so.

At the same time, the court has categorically stated that Congress still has various methods through which it can influence local as well as state decisions to reinforce its dictates. By creating and funding Federal agencies, local bodies may pass laws that work directly on individuals. Likewise, Congress has also been granted the power to proceed in conditional spending so as to encourage local as well as state bodies to adopt the federally proposed policies.

Congress also has the right to participate in cooperative federalism. The recent reforms are a classic example of cooperative federalism, wherein the local, as well as the state government, are at an advantage to tailor the programs in accordance with their benefits. Such programs can only be used by the local government when they fully understand the invitation and regulatory measures in their entirety. It is the duty of the local as well as the state government to inform the citizens regarding specific immigration policies before seeking their opinion on the same.

USA immigration and religion

The immigration rights movement seemed to have gathered enough Christian support ever since the bishop, as well as the clergy, started to speak about them in the open. There has been widespread news that Roma Catholics, as well as mainline Protestant leaders, are voicing their concern regarding their support for undocumented migrants. At the same time, researchers have shown that they are particularly uneasy regarding the existing immigration trends.

Even evangelicals seem to be divided with ethical boundaries. In a recent survey by Pew, it was ascertained that 64% of the white evangelicals believed that immigrants were proving to be a burden on society as they were taking away their jobs, health care facilities as well as housing. In December 2004, the numbers were a meager 49%. Likewise, even 56% of the white Catholics were in favor of this statement and their numbers are up as compared to the December 2004 figures of 44%. As far as the white mainline Protestants are concerned, almost 51% seemed to agree with the statement. Their numbers were up from 41% in the December 2004 statistics. Certain religious groups have decided to remain silent over the entire issue (Jeffery, 2006)

It is interesting to note that while a majority of the religious communities denounce the onset of illegal migrants, there are a few such as the Roman Catholic clergy, who states that the case of illegal migration should be taken as a moral lesson wherein the USA can take advantage of this God gifted mission and help individuals in need to develop socially as well as economically (Jeffery, 2006).

The jeopardy of legal migrants

We often talk about the problems that are being faced by illegal immigrants; we conveniently tend to forget the problems that are being faced by legal immigrants. There has been a steady flow of complaints from the point of view of legal immigrants. They clearly state that despite their best efforts to come in sync with the natural citizens, all they get is deprivation and constant neglect. The legal immigrants pay taxes, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits but when it comes to availing benefits like many others, they seem to lag. There have also been widespread protests regarding citizenship status.

People who happen to be legal immigrants often complain stating that they have not been able to avail themselves citizenship as compared to illegal immigrants, who seem to get citizenship at a very early stage. The complaint here is that illegal immigrants do not have to pay taxes.

Following Edward R. Murrow’s documentary, the “Harvest of Shame”, it has been clearly depicted that African-Americans as well as Hispanic migrants, were forced into jobs that an average American would refuse without a second thought. In a recently conducted survey, 2003, Palm Beach (Fl), it was found the immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America were still engaged in physical labor which was quite similar to the slavery conditions, which had been described by Murrow.

Over here, people often tend to get lured with the prospect of obtaining cheap labor, and in this pursuit; they conveniently tend to ignore the plight of the disfranchised people. In the 1960s immigration was a matter of principle, wherein people were allowed to come to the United States and work on the condition that one of their relatives had been born and brought up in the USA but not anymore.

The problems caused by illegal immigration

Illegal immigration has led to a series of serious problems. One of the biggest problems is the rise in the crime rate. Most crimes that are recorded are said to have been initiated by people who are illegal immigrants. Lured by fake promises and frustrated at not getting their promised dues, illegal immigrants are almost always said to take to crimes. Likewise, prostitution has also been linked to illegal immigration.

Women from neighboring countries, such as Mexico and Central America Republics, are often lured with the prospects of lucrative jobs and then forced into prostitution against their will. There have also been rising complaints regarding the cost of paperwork, the legal migrants need to adhere to, and the time which they need to take out, in a bid to ensure that they are granted permanent citizenship. At the same time, illegal immigrants are granted the same without any fee and in the least possible time frame (Anonymous, 2006).

It has also been cited that illegal immigrants from Mexico send most of their earnings home without paying a single penny in tax. For this, legal migrants need to bear the brunt and compensate for their flaws by paying a higher rate of taxes. Illegal immigration has also caused major economic problems in the United States. In the 1960’s America was considered to be the most prosperous nation in the world, but with the onset of illegal immigrants, to the tune of some 100 million illegal immigrants, America today, is supposed to be a nation with the greatest debtor history in the world and it also has the highest budget deficits in the world (Anonymous, 2006)

Mexican immigration to the United States

Illegal immigrants have always been subjected to controversies ever since they started invading the American soils. According to statistical analysis, it was found that in the year 2003, their numbers in terms of percentages, had grown to approximately 38.3% of all foreign-born inhabitants to have entered the USA. This unprecedented act of illegal migration by the natives of Mexico sparked a debate amongst the political as well as the general public, as the US economy seemingly suffered terrible losses in the act. From being the most successful economy in the 1960s, America has now transformed into a land of debtors.

This episode has also raised various questions on the reasons why immigrants from Mexico have the right to gain American citizenship at a faster pace as compared to non-Mexican citizens. This has also led to a debate wherein people often complain that the presence of Mexican migrants poses a serious threat to the already existing low-level wage population. People also aspire to ascertain the level of integration mobility with special regards to the Mexican immigrant families (George, 2007).

It is interesting to note that the level of immigrant workers from Mexico began to decline in the 1920s before starting to rise at a startling pace by the 1960s. Likewise, it was in the year 1980 that the Mexican immigrants took the American soil by storm and their influx shifted the labor market in their favor besides affecting the overall prices of goods that are produced by native Mexicans but sold in the US markets. This interesting debate has taken a serious turn wherein even Congress, as well as related bodies, has begun to find a suitable solution to curb this problem (George, 2007).

The history of immigration

The United States History of immigration has been very cleverly depicted by Roger Daniel, wherein he has discussed the immigration policies from the year 1942 till the present day. In his book, Roger Daniel has analyzed after studying the immigration patterns in a seemingly systematic fashion. He has also presented a written record of the immigration policies as well as the policies for each decade. He has also covered every aspect of American immigration since the colonial era. He has also discussed and analyzed various reasons why people prefer to immigrate to the United States as compared to any other country and he has also tried to find out the ways and means through which such immigrants fulfill their innermost desires.

Rogers (2002) has also tried to portray various reasons that have been responsible for the sudden change in the existing immigration policies in the United States. He has also categorized various jobs that have been assigned to such immigrants besides, of course, throwing adequate light on the preferences of a particular immigrant community with regards to their settling in a particular part of the United States. In the early days, people were often shipped to the United States as slaves and were forced to work for the benefit of the colonial ruler.

The tide of immigration started westwards in the 1860s, wherein people from the central European as well as Asian countries headed to the western hemisphere with the hope of utilizing their artistic skills to the fullest. In those days, labor was skilled and highly appreciated by the American public. After the 1860s, the quality of labor deteriorated and America became a garbage dump for people who aspired to “earn a quick buck” (Rogers, 2002).

Crossover from Jorge Ramos

Ramos (2005), an esteemed journalist, depicted the brutality of slavery which resulted in the untimely death of nineteen individuals. He captured the final hours of this brutal ordeal and showcased it to the entire world through the means of his seemingly flawless written record. He considered the trade of illegal immigration as a perfect example of “modern-day slavery”. According to the latest data, more than 3000 people are caught in a single day while trying to illegally cross the international borders and enter the United States. It is ironic that out of those three thousand, hundreds manage to cross over undetected and begin a life, which in their minds, is free and monetarily promising in nature. Illegal immigrants hope to make a living and send the surplus to feed their families.

The risks involved in cross borders are immense and at times it leads to a fatal accident. There have been numerous instances wherein people are found dead. At times, even their bodies cannot be identified. Hence, they die a nameless death and even forfeit their right to a decent burial. It all started on May 13, 2003, when a sealed trailer loaded with seventy-three people aboard made its journey to Harrington Texas, some 300 miles by road. The illegal immigrants in the truck hoped to start a prosperous future but were caught unawares as their fate was about to realize into one of the biggest immigration tragedies known to mankind (Ramos, 2005).

Ramos (2005), an Emmy Award-winning journalist, tried to depict the tragedy through the means of a passionate and insightful analysis while explaining that an inhuman tragedy can easily be committed without any remorse even in the twenty-first century. He recounts the heartbreaking tale of this illegal immigration trip by interviewing survivors and having repeated conversations with the families of those who died. He also highlighted the weak and failing immigration laws which governed both Mexico as well as the United States.

Conclusion

Owing to the drastic economic as well as demographic changes in the United States, the problem of legal as well as illegal immigration is all set to take a new turn and this time it would be for the worse. The United States has often been termed as the “Nation of Immigrants.” This statement clearly states that the USA is one of the few countries which have willingly allowed migrants to settle on its shores, with a promise of providing a better livelihood.

According to the records, America has had almost 75 million legal immigrants who crossed borders to earn a better living since the year 1820. Immigration in America is modeled on the designs of political stability, economic stability as well as social mobility. There are several reasons why America encouraged immigration. The first was the need for nation-building. In this scenario, settlers were sought after actively and were also warmly welcomed. Secondly, the US government, in a bid to attract financial investments from bordering nations, adopted the small lands grant model, which provided increased economic opportunities to farmers rather than large landholders. Thirdly, most of the non-agricultural immigration occurred when the western nations, through the means of the industrial revolution, were trying to raise the existing wage standards of the common masses.

This was a coincidence, which created an atmosphere of accepted immigration and greater economic opportunities in the United States. Fourthly, the immigration laws in the US were quite relaxed and this allowed people from the host nations to enter the United States territory on a random basis. The immigrants hoped that the present government would embrace diversity (Susan, Frank & James, 2008)

References

Jay, J. (1997). The practical power of state and local governments to enforce federal immigration laws. Brigham Young University Law Review, 1997(4), 899- 895. Academic Search Premier Database.

Jeffrey, G. (2006). Religious communities at odds on immigration. USA Today, Pg. 09d.

Legal Immigrants pay high price to stay. (2006). USA Today, pg.10a.

Ramos, J.(2005). Dying to Cross: The worst immigration tragedy in American history. New York: Rayo.

Rogers, D. (2002). Coming to America. New York: First Colonial Press.

George, B. (2007). Mexican immigration to the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Susan, B., Frank, B., & James, B. (2008). Aging societies and the changing logic of immigration. Generations, 32(4), 11-17.

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