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What to do about immigration

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What to do about immigration

By: Lena Peschmann

What To Do About Immigration The concern about the impact that immigration impose on American society is not a new one. Since the discovery of the New World immigrants from all over the world moved to American continent in search of a better life, that this vast and rich in sources, yet scarce in population land had promised them. Soon the immigrants outnumbered the native population. They came from England, Europe and Asia. In addition, millions of Africans were imported as slaves. By 1700 the United States became a country of immigrants and more were still to come. At that time America welcomed everybody who ventured to settle in the new country. At the end of the last century, however, not all immigrants were gladly received. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 shut the door for Chines immigrants. It was followed by Quota Act of 1921 and Immigration Act of 1924 which restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Finally, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 restricted the number of immigrants from every nation. Today, as the United States experience "the fourth wave" of immigration, the debate about what to do about it heats up. According to Linda Chavez, "In 1993 ['],over 800,000 legal immigrants were admitted to the United States and an estimated 300,000 illegal aliens settled here, more or less permanently. Over the last decade, as many as ten million legal and illegal immigrants established permanent residence'" (327). However, as Kenney David remarks the numbers by themselves, may not be so disturbing, for the foreign-born people represent only 8.7 percent of entire population of the United States (311). What bothers many Americans is the fact that the majority of immigrants comes from Latin America, predominately Mexico. The main objective of so-called "nativists", to whom one can refer Nicolaus Mills, is that the growing ratio of Hispanics leads to disintegration of the American nation as a union. In his article called "Lifeboat Ethics and Immigration Fears" he explores the issue of immigration and the problems it causes. Mills sees immigration as a threat to American nation as an ethnic group. He expresses his concern that high birth rates and liberal immigration laws allowing to bring relatives result in a high percentage of Mexican population in some areas. In his article Mills agrees with Peter Brimelow saying that "the current mass immigration from predominantly non-European countries threatens not 'only racial hegemony of white Americans' but the ethnic balance responsible for our social cohesion as a nation"(339). The next issue that Mills rises in his article is the economic effect of immigration. Here, he agrees with many nativists that due to the character of the modern immigration which according to them consists mainly from undereducated and unskilled people and due to the liberal immigration laws, the society takes upon itself additional expenses to take care of their children and elderly relatives. And yet the illegal immigration is even bigger issue. He gives an example of California where "the cost to taxpayers of illegal aliens and their U.S. born children [is] at $3 billion annually" (340). Many of them receive the same aid from the government as the citizens do. According to Mills, "[m]ore than a quarter of all immigrants over the age of sixty-five now receive SSI, at a cost of $2 billion annually", he points out and goes on to say that "it cost the seven states with the highest number of immigrants $3.1 billion to educate 641,000 undocumented children" (344). Mills insist the government should stop giving out favors to immigrants. Therefore, he supports the Proposition 187, which was "designed to cut virtually all state aid" to illegal immigrants (340). In addition, he is against the law granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants and their mothers. Mills calls this law a loophole and an invitation for exploitation (343). However, not only expenses on welfare and education worry Mills. He also opposes the impact of immigration on native workers, who have to compete with immigrants for jobs, wages and housing. "According to the economist George Borjas, a third of their [native workers] decline in wages during the 1980s was a result of immigration", Mills point out (346). In addition, Mills argues with those who praise the immigrants for "revival of our inner cities" on expense of those born in the United States. "Are they to be pushed to still more neglected neighborhoods?", he wonders (345). On the whole, Mills insists that the American society should take a better care of its own members before supporting the immigrants. He concludes his argument making a strong point by saying "There is no credible way to talk about compassion for those living beyond our borders when we have so little regard for the needs of our own poor' (347). Mills position is quite clear and coincides with a popular opinion that the immigration has a negative impact. He quots the results of 1993 Yankeovich poll reporting that seventy three percent of nation wants the government to take tougher sanctions on immigration (314). But Mills goes further expressing intolerance of any immigration whether it is legal or illegal and his article confirms the point of view of some radicals that the authorities of the United States need to sign the moratorium on the immigration. According to Mills "It is a lifeboat ethics that says we aren't making it as a nation and that taking on even more people can only make our problems worse" (340). Notwithstanding, that not everybody opposes immigration. The pro-immigration liberals argue that immigrants do not present any threat to the American culture and identity and that the society could only benefit economically by accepting more of them. David Kennedy, a professor of American history at Stanford University, is one of the defenders of pro-immigration policy. In his article "Can We Still Afford to Be a Nation of Immigrants?" he relying on historical evidence and contemporary statistics tries to convince the audience that America needs immigrants. Like Mills, Kennedy is also concerned about the impact of immigration on American culture and ethnicity. He even goes further supposing that Mexican-Americans could "challenge the existing cultural, political, legal, commercial, and educational systems to change fundamentally not only language but also the very institutions in which they do business" (314). But unlike Mills, who views the solution of the problem in abolishing immigration altogether, Kennedy suggests to be "less confrontational, more generous, and more welcoming than our current anxieties sometimes incline us to be"(315). He points out that, first of all, we can not predict the consequences of this phenomena, as there was no such precedent in American history when "[no other]immigrant group had the size and concentration and easy access to its original culture that the Mexican immigrant in the Southwest today" (315). Secondly, he acknowledges the possibility that the American Southwest may become "a kind of Chicano Quebec", but he is convinced that we should help the immigrants "become as well integrated in the larger American society" as were the earlier immigrants, rather than step on the path of a "cultural warfare"(315). As one can see, although Kennedy express the same concern as Mills does, his way to deal with the problem is quite different. The other aspect where Kennedy's point of view is altered from that of Mills' is the economic. Kennedy, unlike Mills who sees the immigration as a burden, tries to convince us that "immigration is a bargain for any receiving society"(311). First of all, in an attempt to support his argument Kennedy suggests to ...

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