Immigration in the United States is not particularly a new occurrence because the country has a long history of welcoming individual from foreign countries. The country celebrated 100 years of allowing immigration although as time passes by and with the negative economic impact of the immigrants, stricter policies are being put in place to ensure that the rate does not exceed. Within the 100 years, there are many changes that have been taking place which means that the immigrants have been having different experiences in addition to the differences of where they hail from.
Differences in Immigration in America within the Past 100 Years
The origin and characteristic of the immigrants have changed significantly over the years. According to the research Center analysis of the United States, Asia has the largest percentage of immigrants in America as compared to the past where the largest percentage was occupied by Europeans. In addition to this, the newly arrived immigrants have a higher level of education and some of them are even hired to administrative jobs and managerial positions. The changes have not only taken place in terms of origin and education but also their economic status and occupations. In 1965, the United States re-wrote the immigration law which favored massive immigration that amounted to 59 million people by 2005. After that, there was a decline in the arrivals especially of the Hispanic communities and the Mexicans who entered the country illegally (Huntington, 6). The patterns of immigration change from increased Asians and Mexicans in the mid-90s as compared to the influx of the Europeans at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Job and skill are one of the factors that have led to change in immigration in the United States. In the past, the immigrants from Western Europe would go to the US and find jobs that were similar to those that the average Americans did because they had similar skills and thus they were paid equal wages. Within time, the immigrants got caught up with the population that comprised the Native Americans. Currently, the majority of the immigrants do not hold up to the American dream because the immigrants who move into America with low skills have a great economic gap with the Americans as compared to many years ago (Portes and Alejandro, 230). In addition, the American worker does not participate in the lower skilled trade since they are positions that are occupied by the immigrants.
The United State government has put in place more strict policies to get into the country. Nowadays the immigrants find it difficult to get into the US because of the strict regulations that were put in place. The changes in law were as a result of an increased number of immigrants especially in the 20th century from the Eastern Europe countries, Mexico and China. The laws that are put in place promote positive selection, this means that the United States target individuals who are highly skilled, wealthy and educated to ensure that they contribute significantly to the economy (Cherlin, 411). The critics assert that there is little evidence to support the theory because this would mean that the low skilled who are natives will have a lower income as compared to the immigrants. For instance, the 1917 act of immigration restricted those who were considered as the undesirables (from the Middle East and Asia) by increasing their taxes, giving tests and outright bans. Last year President Trump imposed the tests in terms of an extreme voting which led to a lot of protests.
The United States give priority to immigrants who are relatives of the American citizens or the immigrants who are already in the United States. However, the country has become strict as some of them could be terrorist or dangerous criminals. The individual is affected by the political and social environment because there are huge differences from the environment in their countries of origin. One can say that the immigrants contribute greatly to the economic growth of the United States although with the fluctuation of the numbers sometimes leads to stagnation. In addition to this, it has also enhanced cultural diversity. As opposed to the claims that it undermines the American experiment, it actually takes part in it to enhance the productive capacity of the nation.
Effects of Immigration on America's Society and Culture
Immigration to some extent has helped in shaping the United States in terms of the powerful demographic force that defines the population. Immigration has existed throughout the history of America although there are peak and low seasons where the people from the original colonies came to America to settle (Schwartz, 237). The result is that the country experienced changes in term of the manner in which the people conducted their day to day activities. Today massive immigration has led to globalization and transformation of the social institutions in the United States. Thus, the wave of immigration has rekindled the debate on the effects and consequences of large-scale Immigration into the United States.
Immigration has fostered an instrumental culture which defines skills and competencies and also the social behaviors (Yan and David, 176). Globalization, therefore, a form of instrumental culture that has been caused by immigration through the convergence of skills in the daily functions of the country's economy. The people migrating to America in the twenty-first century are from various backgrounds such as Chinese, Haitians and Mexicans who share some values on the importance of family ties, optimism and hard work and thus they share these with the Americans. America is now characterized by multiple cultural codes which makes it obvious that the dominant culture changes (Shrestha). Even though the immigrant children are taken through the journey of assimilation there are some aspects of their culture that they do not leave behind due to aggressive parental authority.
The integration efforts have been fostered by schools, employers, churches and community-based groups that have taken lead in spearheading the immigration efforts. Many states and cities in the US have put up initiatives to improve the opportunities and services for the immigrant. Also, the federal policies suggest that the children have access to schools and funding and that they are fully proficient in the English language. The adults are involved in the Adult Education Program that enables them to receive English education. Access to the mainstream institutions in the United States is one of the primary ways in which the immigrants are assimilated into the society. Some scholars provide the perspective that the Americans are afraid of immigrants since they are anxious about the marginalized groups that are conservative about what they believe in such as the sharia law and Hispanic conquest. With the high levels of immigration in America, the voices of these minority continue to be heard and thus the more reason to assimilate them into the American culture.
Although the immigrants are incorporated into the American society through assimilation, sometimes it is categorical in terms of race, ethnicity and class. For instance, those from the Asian countries such as China go to America to obtain an education. Nevertheless, after completion, sometimes it is difficult for them to advance to the level of the middle-class American because of ethnicity. Thus, they rely on being empowered to enable them to fight negative stereotyping of their race. In addition to this, the immigrants are more likely to be poor as compared to the Native Americans of which the poverty patterns differ with race and ethnicity. The first generation of the Hispanic community has the highest number of poor immigrants followed by the Africans and the Asians. The immigrants also depict a higher level of segregation as most of them move closer to areas where the rest of the immigrants settle. However, currently, the situations are changing because the immigrants are now accepting to live in places where the native-born whites live.
America is comprised of a heterogeneous population in terms of race religion and areas of origin. Assimilation into the American culture is based on language, economic success and education including getting familiar with the history of the country. However, the natives also borrow some cultural values from the immigrants which means that both groups are affected. Immigration has more positive effects on culture in America than the negative impacts. For instance, they commit to fewer crimes as compared to the natives. However, the debate continues in America because there is no agreement on whether assimilation should take place by teaching the immigrants about national principles or identity.
Cherlin, Andrew J. "Demographic trends in the United States: A review of research in the 2000s." Journal of Marriage and Family 72.3 (2010): 403-419.
Huntington, Samuel P. "25 The Hispanic Challenge." A Language and Power Reader (2013): 6.
Portes, Alejandro, and Alejandro Rivas. "The adaptation of migrant children." The future of children 21.1 (2011): 219-246.
Schwartz, Seth J., et al. "Rethinking the concept of acculturation: Implications for theory and research." American Psychologist 65.4 (2010): 237.
Shrestha, Laura B. Changing demographic profile of the United States. DIANE Publishing, 2011.
Yan, Kun, and David C. Berliner. "Chinese international students in the United States: Demographic trends, motivations, acculturation features and adjustment challenges." Asia Pacific Education Review 12.2 (2011): 173-184.
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