One of the most controversial topics in all of politics is immigration policy. Since immigrants from Ireland started coming over in droves during the 1830s and 1840s, many Americans have viewed immigrants with suspicion. Part of the problem those already in the country had with immigration was the belief that new arrivals were driving down wages by being willing to work for less. In the first century of American history, there was really no such thing as illegal immigration. Because of the attitudes listed above, however, the United States government started restricting who could come into the country by the late nineteenth century.
Immigration Has Continued
People have continued to come to the United States in the intervening years. Many have jumped through the enormous hoops required to get into the country legally. Others have chosen the quicker undocumented route. These undocumented aliens are much like their nineteenth-century forbears who came into the United States and worked at low-wage jobs to make ends meet because the promise of America was more attractive than the reality of life in their homelands. Many Americans currently want to see these people deported.
Immigration Policy in the Past Thirty Years
Having undocumented workers in the United States is nothing new. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to over 3 million undocumented immigrants. Those who knew Reagan point out that the former president had a problem with the exploitation of those who were here illegally. This new law allowed those who had put down roots in the US to stay legally and reap the benefits of American society. In the years since this move, however, many people have called for increased security along the Mexican border. During the most recent presidential election, Herman Cain, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called for building an electrified fence along the border to deter those who might cross the Rio Grande into the US. Cain later called his comments a joke, but many people took them seriously.
New Calls for Immigration Reform
The losses in the 2012 election led Republicans, who had increasingly become antagonistic toward illegal immigration, to rethink their position on how to deal with undocumented aliens. There have been increased calls for a method of accepting those who immigrated illegally into American society. One of the latest reforms deals with the flow of seasonal low-skilled workers into the country. The number of temporary workers is set on a quota basis that annually allows the same number of workers into the country regardless of the economic situation. President Obama has called for allowing foreign students who graduate from American universities to stay in the country because these students are likely to be innovative.
The President has also called for allowing students who have grown up in the country to stay and have a path to citizenship. The President’s stance has angered some who feel that it would encourage more illegal immigration. Regardless of the stance, it is important to note that there are many people whose parents brought them to the United States as children and know no other home than the US.
It is likely immigration policy will stay a hot topic. Even if undocumented immigrants are made "legal", it is likely that more will seek the greener pastures of the United States. How the nation will handle any additional immigrants remains to be seen.
Tara Jones is a freelance blogger. She contributed this post on behalf of Houston Pavers, who offer comprehensive home rennovation services. Interested parties can learn more about Houston Paves here: http://www.houstonpavers.com/pavers-houston