America has found itself in the spotlight recently due to its seemingly neverending issues with immigration.
Ironically the United States came into being due to immigrants. Many of the initial settlers were people fleeing persecution from their own countries.
To date, the immigrant population continues to provide the human resource that has made America an economic giant. Let us explore how immigration changed America in more detail below.
Understanding the Immigration Timeline
Spanish settlers were the first to inhabit North America in the 16th century. French and English settlers followed soon after in the 17th century. Mass immigration occurred between 1880 to 1924 mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe.
Post-1965, the waves of immigrants in the US were from Latin America and Asia. In the 1900s, America continued to receive up to 1 million immigrants from all over the world annually. Most of them were European, but by the 1960s, Latin Americans and Asians became more.
Currently, there are more than 59 million immigrants living in the United States. More than 21% who came in between 2010 to date.
Certain states have experienced a high growth rate of immigrants. These include California with 10.7 million, Texas at 4.9 million, New York at 4.5 million, and Florida and New Jersey with 4.4 million and 2.1 million respectively.
Impact of the Green Card on US Migration
In 2017, 51,600 people were recipients of green cards. Many of them went to countries with low rates of immigration. Such countries, included Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Others also came from Iran, Uzbekistan, and Albania.
Every year, the United States will give out 55,000 visas, with 5,000 going to those under the Central American relief act and Nicaragua. There is a lot of interest around the green card with many people trying their luck. Others apply for citizenship with an expired green card, thereby allowing them to start the naturalization process.
How Did Immigration Change America?
The immigrant population has been the driving force behind America’s success and dominance. They have and continue to provide labor for most of the Industries in the USA
There can be no discussion about American History without acknowledging the important role of immigrants.
Scholars attribute the formation of the Roosevelt Coalition to the immigrant urban vote for the Democratic Party. In the 1960s, immigrant children took up 30% of potential electorates.
The impact of immigrants is also present in popular culture, including directing, producing, acting and writing. Some of the most successful directors, playwrights, composers among others are children of immigrants. Some notable ones include Leonard Bernstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Lorenz Hart among others.
How Immigration Changed America
The number of immigrants coming to America has taken a slight dip. The recession and top border crossing conditions have a role to play. Many people are also using legal channels to come into the US; with many coming from Venezuela, China, Philippines, and India.
Most of the new immigrants coming into America are people with high skill levels. This has allowed the country to diversify due to a more complex division of labor, which allows for specialization.
Many of them are enrolling for professions like technology and medicine. Skills they will then use in the American workforce; a departure from when they would take up jobs requiring low-level skills.
US immigration has a positive impact on government finances, innovation and productivity; they don’t have much of an impact on the wages of native-born workers.
As of 2016, there were approximately 10.7 million undocumented immigrants. 7.8 of them were in the workforce, especially in farming and construction. Almost half that number pays Social Security; in 2010, the government collected approximately $13 billion from the workers and employers.
The fact that they don’t get the benefits once they retire doesn’t deter them from making the payments. They hope that it would sway the citizenship decision in their favor.
Asylum seekers also contribute to the immigration population. In 2015, 26,124 applicants got asylum from the United States government. In 2016, the US border Patrol apprehended 415,816 immigrants. As of 2018, the numbers of migrant families seeking Asylum has increased.
Refugees also add to the numbers. In 2015, 69,920 immigrants were in the US under the Refugee status. After one year they can apply for a green card and after four years of US citizenship.
A survey by the department of homeland security found that 15.5% of undocumented immigrants receive Medicaid. They also receive other benefits like food stamps and other welfare.
What Do Americans Think About Immigrants?
It is interesting to note that three out of four Americans consider immigration good for the nation. This is according to a report by the polling organization Gallup.
A survey of 1,500 adults shows that 75% of Americans say immigration is good. 85% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans view it positively. This is a surprising departure from 1994 polls by the Pew Research Center, which showed that only 31% of Americans were in support of immigrants.
Some of the respondents said that immigrants are hard-working and have very strong family values. Many also felt that the numbers of immigrants should increase.
On the reverse side, some Americans feel that certain societal ills are attributable to immigrants. There’re questions around violent crimes, but there’s no actual research to show the linkage. Studies show that immigrant populations have been growing for the past decade, but the national crime rate has gone down.
Areas with many immigrants had lower crime rates. Unfortunately, the linkage, whether proven or not, has led to the enactment of tough policies including entry restriction, strict border enforcement, travel, and visas, among others.
Visit our website for fascinating information and stories around the immigrant question and how immigration changed America.