Immigration is the movement of people from their native land to live permanently in a foreign country. The United States of America is a nation dominated by immigrants. The Native Americans originated from the British ancestries who are believed to have inhabited the continent during the 1700s or even earlier. Since that time, the immigration process has started and immigration rates have increased dramatically. The following paper addresses the issue of immigration, its reasons, positive effects, and adverse consequences as well as the solutions to solve the problem.
The largest group of immigrants comprises African-American people. It is considered that the initial African-American inhabitants have entered the country through migrations whereby some were forced while others migrated freely. The three major channels that Africans used to get to the United States were in the form of forced migrations. The first massive immigration occurred during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which facilitated the shipping of the black people from Africa to Europe and then to America. The second movement was through the internal slave trade, which involved transportation of the black people from the coast of the Atlantic to the American south interior. The last migration involved the carriage of black people from the rural areas of the South to the urban areas of the North between the final years of the 20th and the 21st centuries. Currently, the American life is being transformed by the new age global migration of people with the African origin to the United States.
The second large immigrants group comprises Hispanics. The migration of Hispanics began in Hawaii. By the 1850s, thousands of pineapples were exported from Hawaii to California; therefore, there was the growth of the agricultural industry. Consequently, recruiters were looking for the Latino farmers who were experts in harvesting sugarcane and pineapples. There was a massive recruitment of more than 5,000 Puerto Ricans by the Hawaiian Sugarcane Planters between 1900 and 1901. Another reason for migration was building of the world’s cigar capital in Tampa, Florida.
A small percentage of the current American population is Native Americans as the country has the largest population of diverse ancestries. The adventurous people who visited the continent earlier had a significant contribution to the American success. Immigration is, therefore, a vital part of the United States as it continually adds vitality to the country. However, the high rates of immigration in the country have some effects, and the conditions have changed significantly as compared to earlier times. The negative impact of immigration has affected the minority groups, namely Africans and Hispanics (Coates, 2012). It also has adverse effects on the African Americans, who are natives and born in the country, the Latin-Americans, and Asian-Americans.
There is a sharp distinction between illegal and legal immigration that is a creation of the political activists and several politicians in the country. This distinction is unwarranted and artificial and it adversely affects the minorities in the society both in non-economic and economic forms. Some of these effects include less entrepreneurial opportunities, cheap housing, low educational quality, low wages, disease exposure, and even increased job competition. Immigration has also resulted in reduced attention towards most of the problems that the native-born Americans, including Hispanics and African-Americans, face (Doherty, 2006).
The increased influx of the minority model, Asian immigrants into the United States, has caused the African-Americans and Hispanics to become the forgotten minorities. Research indicates that the native immigrants are worse off when it comes to having racist attitudes compared to the native United States inhabitants. The acceptance of an enormous number of immigrants in the United States has in turn resulted in what seems like the importation of racism. The immigrant communities, who have conceded publicly, can confirm that indeed the immigrant influx is higher than they can contain. In the recent years, polls conducted have openly revealed that the minorities have recognized the adverse immigration effects and are wishing for a relief in the illegal and legal immigration (Kinder, 1994).
The effects of immigration on the society are so complex that they are difficult to analyze. Although some expert economists have specialized in issues of immigration, analysis of macro-level econometrics has its disadvantages. Professional statisticians have made claims and emphasized that it is better to consider statistical methods when there are merely numbers in the line of sight. A number crunching cannot replace the qualitative insights from the intimate knowledge of the immigrant populations. In most cases, such analysts do not even know the relevant numbers to analyze (Matloff, 1995). The direct and micro-level observations by people who understand the minority communities provide a more reliable gauge on the economic impacts of immigration, including the impact on the minorities.
Some of the adverse economic effects on the minorities include the high influx of immigrants such that the minority communities cannot accommodate them. Consequently, it has adverse effects that include wage depression among others. A study conducted by Shui Chen, a sociologist, on the Chinese-American community in New York, reveals that the illegal and legal Chinese newcomers reduce the employment opportunities for both the early immigrants and the natives. The same scenario is evident in the Hispanic and African small communities. There has been a displacement of the blacks in the job market. For instance, a study conducted in the hotel industry of Los Angeles in 1988 revealed that immigrants now held the jobs that were formerly held by the African-Americans. The study was not based on any economic model, but a direct report from the deeds of the hotel owners to displace and destroy the black unions and replace them with the immigrants. Other studies have also reported the same trend in airports and the restaurant industry. According to the Wall Street Journal dated 6th of June 1995, majority of the immigrant entrepreneurs do not hire black workers. Despite this fact, the federal and the state government’s civil rights agencies have refused to deal with the racial segregation (Shulman, 2004).
These effects on minorities are not only limited to the people in the lower end of the wage scale. The Asian-Americans make up almost 50% of the computer science graduates from Californian universities. These, however, are usually shunned away by employers in Silicon Valley who, in turn, favor the foreign nationals. This favoritism has continued despite the surplus of labor in the industry.
Looking at the whole situation, everybody in the society is a claims-maker of the social problem. Sometimes people explicitly make social claims. Writing a letter to a local newspaper editor or even making a radio call in qualifies a person becomes a claims-maker. In this scenario, however, the major claims-makers are the minority communities, including the African and Hispanics. These communities are always making claims to change the racist mentality and treatment by the majority (Kinder, 1994). Their claims are that they equally deserve equality and fair treatment. They advocate against racial and ethnic segregation in the US.
The society of the United States has been reluctant in taking measures that will solve this problem. In fact, there has been the creation of anti-immigration groups. These groups aim at discouraging immigration, which, according to them, is the source of all American ills. The primary concern of the anti-immigrant rhetoric is to prevent new immigrants and to flush out the existing ones in the country. These groups work together and their leaders often hold cross-memberships at once across several organizations. Some of these groups have clearly opened ties to racist organizations. According to these anti-immigration groups, immigrants and non-white immigrants, in particular, are the primary cause of all the problems witnessed in the country. These problems range from crime, inner city decay, environmental degradation, and poverty to urban sprawl.
Some of the popular groups include the AICF (American Immigration Control Foundation) founded in 1983. According to AICF, it is the fault of immigrants that the Americans are sowing the ethnic strife seeds. Another group is the CCIR (California Coalition for Immigration Reform). It boasts a whopping 26,000 members and its leader, Barbara Coe, has repeatedly referred to Mexican immigrants as “savages”. Other anti-immigration groups in the United States include NOFEAR (National Organization for European American Rights), NumberUSA, ProjectUSA, TCSP (The Social Contract Press), The Stein Report, V-Dare (Virginia Dare), and VCT (Voices of Citizens Together). All these groups are against immigration in the United States specifically for non-whites and are the main reason African and Hispanic immigrants have difficulties in moving to the United States.
The problem successfully fulfills the six stages of construction of a social problem. There are many threats that arise because of immigration. Firstly, it creates an economic imbalance in the country. The problem adds competition to the already scarce resources in the US. Another social problem is drug trafficking in countries such as Mexico and Jamaica. Immigration makes it difficult for the continent to control illegal drug businesses in U.S.A. Furthermore, massive legal and illegal immigration in America jeopardize the security of the continent. Insecurity prevails in the US due to the uncontrolled movement into the country. Terrorists and illegal gangs can access the continent through the unmonitored porous borders.
The claims-makers in this social problem, who are the whites, Africans, and Hispanics, are yet to successfully manage to construct the social problem to be solved. The net benefits of the problem to the minority population are the primary reason that makes them reluctant in solving the problem. One of the ways to solve this problem is to change people’s attitudes that involve time-intensive processes. The process of mental change can only succeed when started at the grassroots level, that is, the junior school. The strategy can only be a success by verifying the qualifications of teachers to ensure that they are not biased depending on skin color or even the origin of children. These efforts will cultivate a healthy culture of good interpersonal relationships in the upcoming generation. Policies should also be reinforced to ensure that there is no bias in the hiring criteria used by employers. Unfortunately, only affected people have attempted to solve this problem. They did this by fighting for their rights but given that the majorities are the ones that run everything in the United States, their efforts have been futile and always result in more oppression.
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