During this November’s presidential election, those bidding for the Republican Party’s nomination made clear their views on immigration.
Newt Gingrich proposed that a giant iron fence be built along the Mexican American border. Texas Gov. Rick Perry then chimed in saying that not only should a fence be built on the border but that it should be electric.
But too much of the public debate has focused on the legality of immigration without considering a more fundamental question: What effects has mass immigration had on American society? As a result of an immigration act in 1965, a recorded 40 million non-European immigrants now live in the United States.
As counted in the latest census, 13 percent of the American population is made up of newly minted Americans.
While the immigration of Hispanic people is given the most press, the immigration of Asians passed that of Hispanics in 2009 and has yet to be overtaken.
Most scholars agree that while new immigrants are poorer than the general population and face considerably harsher circumstances, no evidence exists that suggests they harm parts of the social fabric.
Americans are unharmed because of immigration, and the immigrant population is widely considered better off.
In fact, the crime rates in the locations where immigrants have settled during the last two decades have decreased.
Cities have grown, poor urban neighborhoods have been largely renovated, and the cultures of these locations have become more dynamic.
While these factors may not be necessarily from the effect of immigrants, scholars do know that immigration does nothing to worsen social ills. In the larger gateway cities, immigration has been associated not only with a decrease in crime but also with economic revitalization and reductions in concentrated poverty.
The influences immigrants have on the economic situation of the country are important, but the effects of the individuals on society are greater. Scholars have found that immigrant youths in Los Angeles were less involved in crime and violence than there native-born peers in the same economic circumstances. All of these aspects of immigration raise the question: if migration has had such beneficial effects, why is there such a persistent backlash?
Modern America now advances into the future cling closely to the outdated Alien and Sedition Acts. It’s now harder to obtain an American citizenship and immigrate to America than at any other time in American history.
The process of immigration requires countless amounts of documentation, time and money. Many of those wishing to immigrate simply do not have the means.
Upon initiating the process of immigration the intended time to review documents is three to six months, and after waiting this time and paying $1,000 per person many people are rejected. Because of the requirements for legally immigrating and the time period in which it takes many illegally immigrate or give up their “American Dream.”
Every man who signed the Declaration of Independence was an immigrant.
It’s unknown if the Union would have won the Civil War if it was not for the countless Irish immigrants who laid down their lives. Without immigration America would not be a “melting pot.”
Instead it would be the tasteless burnt remains of a dream that needed to be scoured from a plain black pot. Is America a civilization of Scrooges who scoff on the idea of the American dream, or the new world offering that very dream?
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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