The United State’s immigration policy has undergone great change since the turn of the 20th century. Many things have contributed to this change, such as political problems, poverty, lack of jobs, and in fact our changing policy. The countries affected by these problems may have changed but the problems themselves have not. No matter what the location or time period, people have been driven from their homeland as result of political disputes. There will always be poor, 3rd world countries that can not create a prosperous environment for their people. As a result of general poverty, few jobs are available, which forces citizens to look beyond the borders for work. Our changing immigration policy is motivation for some immigrants to come to America. If the U.S. is accepting a high number of one country’s immigrants, than many of their citizens will emigrate for America, some legally and others illegally. The United State’s has changed its immigration policy many times in the last 100 years but the reasons for resettlement have remained generally the same.
The early 1900s was a period of mass immigration for the United States. At the turn of the 20th century religious preferences and political persecution were major reasons behind immigration. Many Jews came to America in search of freedom. People of other religious backgrounds also came because the United States was composed of a diverse group of people with different religious preferences. The immigrants did not feel like outcasts in America. Political persecution in Russia forced many of its citizens to emigrate. Most chose to come to America because the country was culturally diverse and they could feel safe there. Economic problems at this time also drove people to America. Many countries around the world were just starting to develop so they were poor and lacked jobs. Their citizens were in desperate need of money; so many fathers immigrated to America in search of a job to support their family with. This was a common occurrence among Asian immigrants. Only later did their families join them through new laws and quotas in the United States immigration policy. However, this soon led to an enormous number of immigrants so the policy was revised to lower quotas and accept more skilled people and less family members. For instance, to counter the high number of Japanese immigrants, the Gentleman’s agreement was passed. Also, in 1917 all potential immigrants needed to pass a literacy test as the country tried to accept less skill-less people. The turn of the 20th century was a preview of future immigration issues.
The issue of immigration resurfaced in the middle of the 20th century. The end of World War II left many countries desolated and it’s people homeless and jobless. They immigrated to the United States under refugee status. However, as stated in the Displaced Persons Act, they could not pose a threat to Americans’ housing or jobs. The war destroyed many political groups but also gave rise to some, such as Communism. This led to the Cold War between the United States and Russia. Since accepting communists threatened the nation’s integrity, the McCarran- Walter Act was passed to prohibit people of certain political beliefs from immigrating. However, the presence of communist Fidel Castro in Cuba drove many of its citizens to the United States. This explosion of Cuban refugees forced quotas to be lowered for other countries. The political problems of this time period also created economic problems in many countries and resultantly produced an immigration nightmare for the United States. The mid-1900s was a time of vast immigration resulting from political problems throughout the world.
The dawn of the 21st century has brought even more changes in the U.S. immigration policy. The Immigration Act of 1990 attempted to raise the number of immigrants by raising the ceiling to 700,000 for 1992, 1993, and 1994. The McCarron-Walter Act was also amended to allow immigrants of all beliefs to enter the country. Economic problems became the greatest reason for immigrating to America, especially for Mexicans. People came to America in search of higher wages than they could make in their homelands. This desire to live a better life has led to an increase in illegal immigration. As a result, acts such as the Immigration Act of 1996 have been passed to raise the number of border-patrol guards, create more fences to separate Mexico and the U.S., and produce more thorough investigation of job applications. Legal immigrants had their benefits limited in 1996 and the illegal immigrants were declared ineligible for all benefits except in cases of emergency. A lack of wars has lowered the number of refugees but political persecution still exists so the immigration numbers are still climbing. As a result, laws are being created to further limit immigration. It has become a problem because it has created culture-related problems within the U.S. and many of the immigrants are overusing our social services and economic assistance plans. As the United States continues to strive for diversity in the 21st century, economic and political strains have been created in the country that can only be solved by decreased immigration.
Immigration has been a part of America since 1776. Over the years many political and economic problems have led to different waves of immigration. Since the turn of the 20th century the United States has received a massive number of immigrants. The political and economic problems that cause this immigration have changed over time along with the U.S. immigration policy. It has had to adapt to the circumstances around the world and the country’s ability to support the new influx of people. Without any restrictions the country would be overflowing with immigrants, but if completely prohibited the country would lose it’s diversity and much of its low-income work force. The U.S. has walked this fine line of immigration for years, changing its policy to keep the number of immigrants at a reasonable level. Under different circumstances the U.S. is able to accept different numbers of immigrants. The United States immigration policy has fluctuated over time with the ever so familiar changing political and economic problems around the world.
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