The United States has always had problems as far as drafting and implementation of immigration policies are concerned because issues related to justice and individual freedom have always been raised. A number of immigrants living and working in the country are yet to be recognized as legal citizens because of the unending political issues and anti-immigrant campaigns1. On the other, immigrant right groups are constantly in talks with various state agencies with an aim of legalizing their status. In this paper, issues facing immigrants and the entire immigration process are discussed with an aim of establishing whether justice is observed. The paper starts by discussing the various challenges, especially legalization issues, which immigrants face in the country.
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The debate on the legalization of immigration is considered a racial justice issue because opponents argue that giving immigrants the citizenship would lead to the rise in the crime rates, overpopulation/urban sprawl, and national insecurity. However, proponents of immigration, especially large business conglomerates, observe that these claims are baseless given the fact they are racist. In many public and private institutions, white supremacy is the order of the day, as only the white race has access to quality education, employment opportunities, communal resources, and other chances as they come at the expense of other races2. Unfortunately, other races have failed to forge a working formula to end racial discrimination and other forms of injustices because of conflicting interests. Immigrants in the country fail to develop meaningful communication amongst something that gives their nemesis an opportunity to subdue them.
In the early 1900, American populace and policy makers were concerned with the high number of Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants who were moving to the country at an unprecedented rate3. In this regard, they never treated them as equals because their presence in the country was misinterpreted to mean competition for scarce resources. Similarly, racial crimination was an issue in government because Americans felt that other races and nations had come to take over what rightly belonged to them. Based on this, the immigration policies dictated that anyone who visited the country and wanted to stay for quite some time was expected to assimilate meaning he or she had to abandon their culture and join the mainstream or the American culture. Any immigrant who refused to assimilate properly was viewed with contempt because he or she was a threat to the survival of the Americans.
As such, the public, through their elected representatives, lobbied the government to come up with stricter immigration policies that would advantage only the locals. In this regard, the government never drafted sound policies to help immigrants settle in the country instead it simply responded to the fears, wishes, and aspirations of the locals. Many native communities never approved the idea of bringing in people from other countries, especially those from Europe, to offer labor because their perception was that they were no longer assured of jobs, as alternatives were readily available. Again, immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany, and Israel could not be assimilated since they had a richer culture as compared to that of the Americans. Additionally, some of the countries in which the immigrants came from were superpower and the idea of subordinating them never augured down well with their home governments. The United States was developing rapidly and it needed expert labor from Italy and Germany. Consequently, the government had to act first in the early 1920s by closing all the doors for immigration mainly because of the First World War. However, the main reason was to cool down tempers from members of the public who felt that European immigrants would cause trouble in their country yet they were living peacefully and harmoniously having gone through the worst civil war in the world4.
After the First World War, no foreigner was allowed to enter the United States, as policymakers attempted to protect the public from conflicts that went on in Europe and Africa. Immigration was banned for at least thirty years during the two world wars, but President Truman changed the country’s domestic and foreign policy in the late 1970s and early 1980s when immigration was allowed once more. This was the time when the US was fighting one of the trickiest wars in the name of Cold War and the main reason for allowing immigration was to win the support of many African, Asian, and European states, as the state was in support of capitalism. It is concluded that the US has never developed immigration policies or any other foreign policy based on the reality, but instead it simply responded to the pressure from the members of public.
The country faces a great dilemma when it comes to allowing new people to take the citizenship because public opinion has to be considered always. Roger Daniels shows that the US will always take the views of the population before drafting a major foreign policy, such as immigration policies5. Additionally, the author observes that the state interests are always taken into consideration before permitting foreigners to take up citizenship without explaining whether justice is taken into consideration. The major reason considered is security and the safety of the people. During the world wars for instance, all forms of immigration were banned. The book fails to address adequately the many issues related to justice, such as the safety of foreigners and their interactivity in the country.
Daniels, Roger. Guarding the golden door: American immigration policy and immigrants since 1882. New York: Hill and Wang, 2004.
Rosich, Katherine. Race, Ethnicity, and the Criminal Justice System. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association, 2007.
1 Katherine, Rosich, Race, Ethnicity, and the Criminal Justice System (Washington, DC: American Sociological Association, 2007), p. 58.
2 Katherine, Rosich, Race, Ethnicity, and the Criminal Justice System (Washington, DC: American Sociological Association, 2007), p. 58.
3 Roger, Daniels, Guarding the golden door: American immigration policy and immigrants since 1882 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), p. 28.
4 Roger, Daniels, Guarding the golden door: American immigration policy and immigrants since 1882 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), p. 54.
5 Roger, Daniels, Guarding the golden door: American immigration policy and immigrants since 1882 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), p. 80.