The transfer of immigrants from one nation to another where they are not nationals and do not have citizenship rights is referred to as immigration. This relocation may be due to a change of work or a brief holiday. Any nation has rules that regulate the immigration process and processes that must be followed before being allowed entry into a country.
The United States of America has an immigration body that ensures that anyone who enters the country has cleared and complied with those criteria. Since they lack legal identification and due to the existence of the USA’s stringent laws, those who enter the country unlawfully find it difficult to find work and simply live everyday lives (Hollifield et al. 67-91). Recent research has proved that immigration has helped boost the U.S. economic growth but at the same time has led to an increment in terrorist activities affecting national security and putting their citizens at risk. For such reason, the USA has implemented policies to help oversee the immigration process (Hanson 89).
The United States is one of the countries that everyone wishes to visit at some point; many people have been seeking ways enter the country regarded as the land of opportunity. This general urge gives the immigration body of the United States the mandate to draft on policies that would regulate their number of immigrants and grant them with temporary and permanent documents and penalty those who do not adhere to set rules.
The Evolutions of USA Immigration Policies
Immigration has been a subject of USA policy makers since the nation’s establishment in 1790 when the Congress came up with a way in which people from other countries could change their residence and be granted the U.S. citizenship. The first federal immigration law was legislated in 1875. Due to increased immigrant populations, the USA created immigration service bodies to oversee all legal processes of people entering the country, the federal government assumed this responsibility in 1891 (Haas et al. 113).
United States sanctions used before the First World War were lenient on aliens till they started pouring in just after the war. In 1921 the USA had to formulate quotas to minimize numbers of illegal entries and started offering few visas via their embassies abroad. In 1965 the government dropped the quota system and came up with the categorical preference which favored relatives of USA citizens but still limited the number of immigrants from particular countries (Haas et al. 113).
In 1976 the preference system was amended, applicants from the Western Hemisphere were given an annual bar of 299,000 which was later in 1990 increased to an annual bar of 675,000 per year (Milly 102-136). In 2002 the Department of Homeland Security was formed and had all responsibilities that were earlier executed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service body. The Homeland Security is responsible for carrying out border inspections, enforcements and other immigration services (Haas et al. 102-136).
Categories of Lawful Admission to the United States
Current United States policies offer one of two ways in which people can enter the United States lawfully; one includes permanent admission where a person is granted permanent residence in the United States, get offered a green card, and are allowed to work and even apply for US citizenship (Terrazas 123-130).
Temporary residency refers to foreign citizens who are admitted into the USA for a short period of time i.e., for tourism, business or study purposes. Under US laws the foreigners admitted under such admission policy are referred to as nonimmigrants (Terrazas 131-140).
Permanent admission is influenced by factors that are taken into consideration before being granted that include: family reunification where immediate relatives of current US citizens are granted the admission, admition of qualified professionals in areas where there is a strong demand for their expertise and labor (Kerr et al. 86).
Those who are willing to invest over 1 million dollars in the United States are granted permanent admission. People with exclusive art and athletic abilities, i.e. runners, are also granted permanent admission (Kerr et al. 86).
Temporary admissions are given to those seeking to stay in the USA for a specific period of time. Under the waiver program, citizens of 27 participating countries were allowed admission into the United States without a visa for not more than 90 days; they only required a valid passport (Hoefer et al. 148).
Immigration policies are set to affect legal or illegal aliens. A returning resident who has been away from the United States for more than 180 days must apply for re-admission into the contry. If gone for more than a year, a person is required to have re-entry documentation from the United States Citizenship and Immigration services. Such residents are referred to as special immigrants (Hollifield et al. 123-143).
Temporary admission policies also cover parolees who are in the United States for a short period and mainly for humanitarian reasons that are of public benefits. This kind of admission offers temporary status to the parolee but does not guarantee a formal acceptance to the country. After the documented period one is supposed to leave the country. Types of parole include: advance parole, port-of-entry-parole, humanitarian parole, significant public benefit parole, deferred inspection, and overseas parole (Hollifield et al. 102-111).
Temporary admission policies also affect refugees who have run away from their home countries out of fear of persecution and are unwilling to return back. They are allowed to adjust to legal permanent status after a one-year stay in the United States. The President determines the number of refugees per year based on their origin after consultations with Congress (Hollifield et al. 56-81).
Enforcement of Immigration Laws
Circumstances under which a foreigner may be denied admission into the United States or removed from the country include criminal records history i.e., where one is identified as a security threat regarding terrorism and health concerns like TB or Yellow Fever.
Lack of proper labor certification, qualification and documentation when one seeks work in the United States, or previously been ejected from the country for whatever reason, falsely claiming US citizenship in order to be hired leads to deportation, a crime related to domestic violence, stalking or child abuse, illegal entry or any violation of immigration laws set (Hollifield et al. 106-155).
Enforcement laws are also executed by the Interpol police whose main concern is to check immigration documents, whather they are missing or up to date. One is likely to face charges or be deported to home country depending on the nature of arrest and background factors surrounding the arrest i.e., criminal history.
Unauthorized aliens include all those who enter the United States without proper or forged documentation and clearance. In 2000 the Census Bureau estimated that there were about 7 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States and in 2004 the number was reported to have risen to 10 million immigrants (Hoefer et al. 102).
However it was later reported that the count included Canadians and Mexicans with border staying cards and foreigners who were yet to renew their permition so the numbers may not be that large, but the Census Bureau report led to further restrictions on immigrants entering the United States which were enacted via the US embassies (Hoefer et al. 102).
The United States faces a major challenge in the face of illegal immigrants as many aliens try to make their way into the country especially through the Mexican border. The United States has to come up with strict measures to scare away aliens who might think of sneaking onto USA soil (Hoefer et al. 72).
Foreigners found in the USA without legal documents are apprehended and may be formally removed from the country or offered voluntary departure. Formal removal includes taking the matter to court where one may be imprisoned or permanently removed from the United States and denied future visits (Hoefer et al. 65).
Formal removal may also be beneficial in a case where a person’s dependents are all in the United States; the court may allow a foreigner to remain in the United States after checking through his past criminal record and conduct. Voluntary departure applies to aliens who have no criminal records and when they are sent off the country are not barred from trying legal admission onwards (Hoefer et al. 76).
Becoming a U.S. Citizen
The process when a foreigner is granted United States Citizenship is called naturalization. Any permanent resident who has been in the United States with no criminal record can apply for naturalization. Aliens, who apply for it must have resided in the USA for a minimum of three years, have a good understanding of its history and government, and willingness to support and defend the United States and its Constitution (Bray 54).
The aliens who might have joined the army or gotten married to a United States citizen may receive some waivers on the time that they might be present in the USA or the time they have been residing there before applying for naturalization (Bray 56).
Those who had trips exceeding six month break from the continuity stay in the United States except for army members who were on active duty during the away period are advised to apply for naturalization (Bray 58).
Immigration policies are necessary for every country so as to control the number of foreigners getting onto their grounds. Overpopulation may cause strain on a country’s resources. Immigration regulations also help to monitor health conditions as the rules apply for people to be vaccinated and prevent spreading of communicable diseases, this helps to safeguard native population of a country. If immigration rules were not enacted, it would be a disaster for a country like America. Advantages of immigration policies are evident, and each country should enact and abide by their own and at the same time learn to respect policies adopted by member countries. Immigration policies will also help promote peace and good relation among countries.
Bray, Ilona. Becoming a US Citizen: A Guide to the Law, Exam & Interview. Nolo, 2016.
Haas, Hein, et al. “Growing restrictiveness or changing selection? The nature and evolution of migration policies.” International Migration Review, 2016.
Hanson, Gordon Howard. The economics and policy of illegal immigration in the United States. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute, 2010.
Hoefer, Michael, et al. “Estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population residing in the United States: January 2011.” DHS Office of Immigration Statistics, 2012.
Hollifield, James, et al. Controlling immigration: A global perspective. Stanford University Press, 2014.
Kerr, Sari Pekkala, et al. “Skilled immigration and the employment structures of US firms.” Journal of Labor Economics, 2015.
Milly, Deborah J. New policies for new residents: immigrants, advocacy, and governance in Japan and beyond. Cornell University Press, 2014.
Terrazas, Aaron. “Older immigrants in the United States.” Migration Information Source, 2009.