Current Immigration System in the United States
The size and composition of the foreign-born population has constantly grown since 1960. Today, the foreign-born population is 13.1 percent of the total US population. Although immigration has been seen to have negative impacts, it has supported the growth of the country’s economy as some of the immigrants and refugees are entrepreneurs, consumers as well as paying taxes just like the other citizens. Despite all these positives about immigration, the current leadership in the country is devoted to enforce restriction and firm policies against it. There is not only increased immigration enforcement but also restrictions on legal immigration and refugee settlement. All these is aimed to reduce the current immigration rates in the United States.
The foreign population also referred to as aliens comprises of immigrants and the nonimmigrants. Immigrants represents those who used legal ways to enter the country for permanent residence while nonimmigrants are those lawfully admitted to the country for temporary residence. The nonimmigrants includes tourists, temporary workers and students in the U.S among others. Other groups of people who either become permanent or temporary residence include: refugees and naturalized citizens who can either be immigrants or nonimmigrant, and unauthorized aliens, which represents those who entered the United States illegally without inspection of their documents.
Several pathways into the U.S either temporarily or permanently exists. Permanent residence status can be obtained through family sponsored immigrations which is meant for immediate relatives as well as preference immigration, employment based immigration, Visa Queues, diversity and immigrant visa, and refugee status. Temporary residence can be obtain through Visa waiver programs and border crossing card. Both temporary and permanent residence acquisition is a controlled process and all the requirements must be followed. All the permanent residence acquire United States citizenship through naturalization. This occurs after the immigrant has fulfilled all the requirements such as being a lawful permanent resident for 5 years, fluent in English, is of good morals and standards, and taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S government.
The increased immigration restrictions is expected to affect the legal status of the immigrants. Immigrants whose legal status have fallen off or in a temporary status are likely to face deterrence which will constraint their lives. Legalization of a fallen off immigration status in the United States falls under three categories: the registry program which covers immigrants who have resided continuously, population specific programs, and the general population program which attempts to cover a larger percentage of unauthorized immigrants. One of these programs is the DACA program. The program was initiated in 2012 protects for undocumented immigration of age below 16 years and also applies to those who were under the age of 31 years as of June 2012 (Meissner, et al, n.p). However, this program has been heavily criticized by the current government and is even expected to be phased out.
According to Meissner, et al, immigration enforcement are provided by the INA civil and criminal provisions in places where foreigners enter the country. It also involves identification, investigation, apprehension, prosecution and deportation of those who violate the immigration laws. The enforcement process is administered at the border and ports of entry. The ports and the border are considered to be the entry points for foreigners. The government has set checkpoints on these entry points where the eligibility of the foreigners is verified to ensure that there are no unlawful entry into the United States. Another way to administer this is the border security between points of entry. This focuses on the land border entry and the eligibility of those entering the country through these points. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are responsible for these enforcements.
The CBP implements these enforcements through the use of technological surveillance, biometric devices and deterrence among other approved strategies. Amy person found to violate the INA provisions are charged and the necessary action taken which includes deportation to the home country. Deportation involves removal of eligible immigrants from the United States. This act has been popularized by the current government since it has vowed to deport all the eligible immigrants. This has been enacted to discourage unlawful immigration. Apart from removal and deterrence of immigrant, the government has also set some programs that are aimed at discouraging immigration into the U.S. Worksite enforcement among other programs enacted by the DHS are expected to minimize the rate of immigration in the country.
The Mexican immigrants used to account for the largest part of the immigrant population but recently reports suggests that they are constantly declining however, the Latin American immigrants are increasing. The reason behind the current immigration restriction is due to the fact that immigrants have been viewed as a threat to job opportunities, stiff competition in the entrepreneurship sector, competition for educational facilities and increasing crime rates in the United States.
Meissner, Doris M., et al. Immigration enforcement in the United States: The rise of a
formidable machinery. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute, 2013.