Monday, November 21, 2016

Facts about Immigration Policy

Here is a very short student paper about immigration:

Family-based immigration is a policy developed by Congress to help aid in the reunification of families. There were many problems with families being separated because some members could not easily obtain documentation to enter the United States; to alleviate this Congress developed a system to reunify families.  The total number of family visas per year is approximately 480,000. 

Family-based immigrants are admitted either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system. In order to be admitted through the family-based system, a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident sponsor must petition for an individual relative, establish the legitimacy of the relationship, meet minimum income requirements, and sign an affidavit of support stating that the sponsor will be financially responsible for the family member upon arrival to the United States.  To meet eligibility requirements a relative must be: spouses of a U.S. citizen, unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (21 and under), or parents of a U.S. citizen (must be 21 or older to petition for parents). 

A limited number of visas are also available in the family preference system for legal permanent residents to bring family. However, to meet eligibility requirements for legal permanent residents, it must be a spouse or else a child under the age of 21. While family unification is an important principle governing immigration policy, the number system that Congress developed is complicated. The number is determined by starting with 480,000 and then subtracting the number of immediate alien relative visas issued during the previous year and the number of aliens “paroled” into the United States the previous year. Any unused employment visas are then added to this number to establish the number of visas that remain for allocation through the preference system. However, by law, the number of family visas made available through the preference system may not be less than 226,000. The number often exceeds 480,000 visas from the family preference system per year. 

The policy is performing well, based off of the guidelines they have set up, but it still leaves many families without the opportunity for reunification.  And of course, immigration is to some extent controversial.  There are many grounds for supporting immigration, and there are many grounds for opposing immigration.  Among the reasons for desiring decreasing immigration and lowering the number of family preference or reunification visas are some racist or racialist arguments about non-European immigrants, and these motivations among some immigration opponents can cloud the issue, since there are also many genuine issues related to population growth and environmental pressures, and the influence of immigration on wages in certain sectors of the economy, which could reasonably justify opposition to high levels of immigration.  The arguments in favor of immigration include the benefit that immigrants tend to be younger and more fertile than native-born Americans, and bringing them into the country helps give our nation a more sustainable dependency ratio (ratio of persons too young or too elderly to be expected to engage in the labor force and pay taxes to those who are working age and might be expected to earn incomes and pay taxes).  Immigrants may also bring talents and ideas, or foods and art forms that enrich our culture and economy.  In terms of demographic power, having a slowly growing population may offer the United States a stronger future in international relations, relative to societies (e.g., China, Japan, Italy, Spain, Russia, Germany, etc.) where population growth is likely to cease (or has already ceased) and population decline will set in.  In the form of capitalism that now dominates America's society, the constant addition of more workers and consumers (immigrants) helps foster economic growth.  

Information about immigration and naturalization can be found at the website maintained by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security.  A recent report explains that between 2009 and 2014, an average 708,000 immigrants were naturalized (became American citizens) each year. A little over a third of immigrants (35.5%) are admitted to the United States because they are immediate relatives of United States citizens.  Another 18.6% are admitted through the family preference program. These rates are higher than those who are admitted through employers (15.5%), refugees and asylum-seekers (14.5%), and those who come in through the diversity lottery or are paroled (11.9%).  The five countries that supply the United States with the most immigrants include: Mexico (13.3%), India (7%), the Philippines (5.7%), China (4.8%), and The Dominican Republic (3.6%). 

No comments: