US Immigration is known as the movement of non-resident peoples to the United States. It has been the major source for population growth and despite never rising above 16% of the native born population has caused great cultural change throughout the US.
Back in 1900, the US population was a mere 76 million, and 500,000 of those 76 million were Hispanic people. However between 2000 and 2005, 58% of immigrants were from Latin America.
According to bureau figures, there was a 2.8 million growth in the US population between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005 - 1.3 million of that increase was because of Hispanic immigration.
Experts have estimated that in 60 to 70 years, the US population will double to over 600 million. There may even be one billion Americans in by 2100. This is from a mere one million people in 1700, and 5.2 million in 1800. Of children under five, 45 per cent are from a racial/ethnic minority.
US Immigration boomed to a 57.4 % increase in foreign born population from 1000 to 2000. Focus was honed in on existing immigration law and immigration outside the law, especially the over 7.5 million illegal alien workers with more than 12 million household members already inside the U.S. and another 700,000 to perhaps more than 850,000 predicted for each coming year. At issue was whether the immigration laws and enforcement system were working as the public wanted them to work. Illegal household members from Mexico alone were estimated at over 8 million.
Immigration effects many aspects of live and has caused huge debate - for example concerning race, ethnicity, impact on upward social mobility, economic benefits, religion, job growth, settlement patterns, levels of criminality, nationalities, political loyalties, work habits, and moral values.
By 2006, the United States records show that it accepts more legal immigrants as permanent residents than the rest of the world combined.
As North America is so far from Europe, immigration was always a dangerous risk. However since the 1960s, travel to the US has been made easy by plane, but illegal immigrants face huge risks crossing the Mexican border.
There were 1,266,264 immigrants who were granted legal residence in 2006, up from 601,516 in 1987, 849,807 in 2000, and 1,122,373 in 2005. The top twelve sending countries in 2006, by country of birth: Mexico - 173,753, China, People’s Republic - 87,345, Philippines - 74,607, India - 61,369, Cuba - 45,614, Colombia - 43,151, Dominican Republic - 38,069, El Salvador - 31,783, Vietnam - 30,695, Jamaica - 24,976, South Korea - 24,386, Guatemala - 24,146, Other countries - 606,370. In 2006, 202 refugees from Iraq were allowed to resettle in the United States.
NEW PROPOSALS: Despite proposals to criminalize illegal immigrants, plans to build a fence on the Mexican border have not been passed.
Cities such as Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Jersey City, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine, have “sanctuary” laws preventing the police from asking questions about immigration status.
Early Immigration to the United States - Historical Background:
The first English colony to settle in the US was in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. Tobacco plantations were planted along the Chesapeake Bay, the Southern rivers and the coast. All of these made up the original colonies.
The Dutch settled along the Hudson River in New York, starting cities such as New York (now called New York City). The Dutch began to establish settlements in 1626 along the Hudson River in New York. The Quakers began to settle in Pennsylvania in 1680 while the English and German Protestants took root in Philadelphia and the Delaware River valley.
Another significant colonial center of settlement is the "western frontier" in Pennsylvania and the South, which was settled by the Scots-Irish, Scots and others from the northern England lands and counties in the early to late 1700's. The number of Scottish Americans in the US is believed to be in the region of 20 million with the Scots-Irish at 27 million.
The Southern colonies at the time were approximately 55% British, 38% Black and roughly 7% second and third generation German. By 1780 nearly all Blacks were native born with only sporadic additions of new slaves being brought in. The peak time of settlement was from 1629 to 1641 when over 20,000 Puritan settlers arrived from the East Anglian parts of England (Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, and East Sussex).
What united all the settlements was their independence of Royal or Parliamentary monetary support. Instead, the new immigrants imposed self-rule in their communities and owned their own land.
Legal immigration to the US has risen dramatically over the past 50 years - in the 1950's there were 2.5 legal immigrants. This figure rose to 4.5 million in the 1970's, to 7.3 million in the 1980's, and 10 million in the 1990's.
Since the year 2000 there are approximately 1,000,000 legal immigrants entering the US every year, of which 600,000 are CHANGE OF STATUS immigrants. There are currently 35,000,000 legal immigrants in the US, the highest figure on record.
Meanwhile, illegal immigration is estimated to be as high as 1,500,000 per year, with 700,000 illegal immigrants arriving annually. There are somewhere between 12,000,000 to 20,000,000 illegal immigrants in the US, predominantly residing in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois.
The Economic Effects of Immigration:
An important factor to keep in mind is the links between immigration and unemployment: anti-immigration sentiment seems to be predominantly high is areas where there are high levels of unemployment. Those who claim that immigration has a negative effect on the US economy point to the difference between taxes paid and government services received, while those who focus on the positive economical effect of immigration claim added productivity and lower consumer costs for certain goods and services.
Many policy advocacy groups accuse both legal and illegal immigration of "importing poverty", based on statistics showing that 41 per cent of people without health insurance from 2000 to 2006 were Hispanic. In addition to this, the Center for Immigration Studies reported that 25.8 per cent of Mexican immigrants are living in poverty, more than double the poverty rate for US citizens and legal residents.
The Heritage Foundation also makes note of the number of poor Hispanics increasing from 6 million to 9.2 million between 1990 and 2006. Despite these reservations, the overwhelming attitude of economists towards both legal and illegal immigration is that immigrants have a positive and beneficial effect on the economy.
Political and Social Effects of Immigration:
Immigrants' political views are varied, with groups such as the Cubans and Colombians leaning towards tend to favor conservative Republican ideologies while Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Asian Americans lean towards the more liberal ideologies of the Democratic Party. As Mexicans are the largest group of immigrants, the Democratic party is arguably in a stronger position than the Republicans insofar as legal immigrant voting is concerned.
Immigration and Health:
The public cost of immigrant health care is a highly controversial issue - the high use of emergency rooms by immigrants indicates the majority of immigrants do not have insurance. University of Maryland economist and Cato Institute scholar Julian Lincoln Simon came to the conclusion in 1995 that, not including the elderly or refugees, the majority of immigrants paid more into the health system than they took out.
Immigration and Crime:
The majority of studies undertaken during the 20th century show that immigrants in general don't feature prominently on criminal statistics, with some commentators going so far as to suggest that the immigration of Hispanics may be directly associated with a decrease in crime.
According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, as of 2001 4 per cent of Hispanic males in their twenties and thirties were incarcerated (compared to 1.8 per cent of white males in the same age group).
Statistics from 2004 show that there were over 750,000 gang members active in the US. Statistics from 1999 show that Hispanics made up 46 per cent of all gang members, with Blacks making 31 per cent, Whites 13 per cent, and Asians 7 per cent.
Immigration and the Environment:
Despite making up just 5 per cent of the world's population, Americans consume about 25 per cent of world’s resources (which includes roughly 26 per cent of the world's energy). America also produces approximately 25 per cent of the world’s CO2 and generates 30 per cent of the world’s waste.
These consumption patterns are the cause of concern where American population growth is concerned - for example, the average Hispanic woman will give birth to three children in her lifetime.