Background information about illegal immigration


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In the following decades, other categories of undesirable migrants were added to the list—criminals, prostitutes, Communists and so on.

Falling Illegal Immigration Numbers Confirm No Border Crisis

In the s, quantitative limits—a worldwide quota and quotas by country—were added. It's a 3,kilometre long border. In the early s there were 2, border patrol agents, today there are 20, In the early s there was almost no fencing on the border; today there's about 1, kilometres of relatively secure fencing. During both world wars, the United States government looked to Mexico to help with a perceived shortage of labour. During World War II, the bracero program brought hundreds of thousands of Mexicans to work as unskilled labour in agriculture and on the railways.

Miller from the University of Delaware. Read more: Is the child migration crisis of the United States' own making? The Immigration and Nationality Act of meant an end to restrictions on the basis of nationality and led to an explosion in demand for legal migration, although it came from unexpected places, according to Professor Susan Martin from the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.

They gave priority to people entering for family reunification, the fact that they already had family members in the US. It was actually thought that this would lead to European migration restarting, but by that point in the mids, a lot of the European countries had seen their economies take off. They were actually starting to import guest workers, immigrants to come into their countries. What ended up happening is the origin of our current illegal migration because a lot of the people who came as braceros or in the future might have wanted to come as braceros, instead came illegally and the farmers continued to hire them, only they hired them now as illegal workers rather than as guest workers.

It proposed the creation of a kind of identity card and made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire or recruit undocumented workers.

Illegal immigration: Separating the facts from fiction

It also granted amnesty to millions already in the US. It was the first attempt to really deal with illegal immigration. So the legalisation worked [but] the sanctions did not work, and the net result was that illegal Mexico-US migration surged in part because those family members of newly legalised Mexicans did not wait, as they were supposed to, for their immigrant visas and there became a whole lot more anchor points for Mexicans to enter the US, find supportive friends and relatives and get jobs, even though they did not have legal authorisation to do so.

The enforcement mechanism was not at all effective. During the s, the Commission on Immigration Reform was set up to advise the US government on illegal immigration, but the Clinton administration also failed to adopt a counterfeit-resistant identification document or provide the funding necessary for the enforcement of employer sanctions. Instead, by , the US government was looking to border control, not labour law enforcement, to deal with illegal migration.

In , President George W Bush, then in his second term in office, signed a law authorising the construction of more than 1, kilometres of fencing along the United States-Mexico border. In the early s there was almost no fencing on the border; today there's about kilometres of relatively secure fencing. Initially people came without the services of a local guide or smuggler, or coyote, and as the number of border agents increased and as the fences got built, more people turned to smugglers.

They often have teenage drivers and they may come with several vans, one of which may have drugs, one of which may have migrants, and a couple that might be empty decoys, and the effort is made to come across the desert where there's no fence in Arizona, and to have the trucks with the things being smuggled into the US elude the border patrol and make it in.


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Although almost half of unauthorised migrants enter the US legally on tourist or student visas, the rest, mostly Mexicans, slip across the southern border. About a quarter of undocumented migrants live in California, although many now live and work far from the border states.

The landmark Immigration and Nationality Act continues to apply the same maximum number of visas to all countries, regardless of their population. Related: Hazaras in a state of legal limbo. Although family reunion and migrants with special skills or education still remain the focus of legal migration, these country limits have severely restricted the legal immigration of people outside those categories wanting to come from places like China and the Philippines, as well as Mexico.

The lag for a legal migrant visa to the US for an unskilled worker from places like the Philippines and Mexico is over 20 years: a long time to wait if you are trying to immigrate to seek economic opportunity during your most productive working years. For most people most of the time, legal status doesn't make a big difference day-to-day. The biggest danger is state and local police who do not enforce immigration laws but do enforce traffic laws, stopping people and discovering they don't have a drivers licence or they don't have insurance.

An Analysis of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States by Country and Region of Birth

So that's a real fear. Somebody is driving to work but without a licence or without insurance because they can't get a licence and can't get insurance because of their status, can wind up encountering the police and being removed from the US. Although immigration law is a matter for the federal government, many states, cities and towns have tried to make life more difficult—and in some cases,easier—for undocumented migrants.


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  • So in the areas that they do have jurisdiction over, such as rental, you cannot rent to someone unless they show a valid form of a certain type of ID. Or there were some places, I believe in Georgia, that also allowed certain cities to deny utilities—electricity and water—unless you had a certain type of documentation, and it is absolutely trying to target undocumented immigrants from Mexico.

    This [series episode segment] has image, and transcript. Although both the Bush and the Obama administrations tried to introduce comprehensive immigration reform, neither succeeded, despite immigration becoming a political issue at campaign time. I think many people expected after , given the really poor performance the Republicans had with Hispanics, there was a lot of talk that, okay, now Republicans are going to support immigration reform because of they don't get the support of this growing Hispanic community, they won't be able to win national elections.

    Conservatives feel it's rewarding unlawful behaviour to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

    The data indicate America does not have a border crisis but a specific problem with how best to deal with families from Honduras and Guatemala who are coming to the United States for safety, economic opportunity or both. The Trump administration ended the program but it allowed people to apply for refugee protection while in their home countries — exactly the option to make available if one wants to discourage long treks from Central America to the U.

    Selected Books

    Citizenship and Immigration Services. The next step should be to provide more ways for individuals to work legally on temporary visas, whether through a new law or bilateral agreements. That would eliminate the need for would-be workers to use smugglers. In short, rather than criticize the use of smugglers in speeches, it would be better to give potential workers viable options in place of the smugglers.

    Finally, we should recognize that many people are scared to live in their home countries, primarily due to gang violence directed against individuals and their families. The United States should assist those countries to improve security conditions, while also providing opportunities for people to apply for asylum through lawful ports of entry. The U. The decline in the unauthorized immigrant population illustrates there is not a crisis at the border.

    Targeted policies can solve the problems that do exist along the U.

    I am the executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan public policy research organization focusing on trade, immigration and relate. I write about globalization, business, technology and immigration. Share to facebook Share to twitter Share to linkedin.

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    Stuart Anderson.

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