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Politics of Immigration Research Paper


The issue of immigration has been very crucial in the United States. Immigration in United States has got both the advantages and disadvantages. This research paper will closely compare the “city on the edge” and “friends or strangers” books concerning the immigration.

There are two major types of immigrants in the United States; the first set of people is of those who earn less amount of money than those who are already in America. The second sets of people are immigrants whose earnings are higher than those already in America. These are the people with high skills with high level of education than an average American. The analysis of the available policies in the United States government would also be discussed.

Background Information

Cuban immigrants are among the discussed group in the city on the edge book. This group has its effect in the economy, socially and politically. Cuba was first discovered in the United States in early 1880s. Its economic activity that made them outstand was production of cigars.

Up to date Cubans are recognized as a minority group of people in US, as most of them entered in this nation between 1959 and 1962. This group consisted of educated and people with professions as they were trying much to break the chains of oppression by Fidel Castro (Portes & Stepick 102). The biggest group of Cuba immigrated in 1980, though they did not receive a welcoming atmosphere, as some were suspected to have criminal backgrounds. The largest percentage of this group had settled in Dade County.

Both legal and illegal immigration in America has increased since the end of world war 11. Most of people have a negative conception regarding immigration, but that is not necessarily the case. It’s proven that, the immigrant who gets into United States before they attain the age of 25 years, they are recognized as net taxpayers. However, the average immigrant pays relatively smaller taxes than an average native citizen.

These immigrants as well receive relatively higher in terms of social services than the average Native Americans. This is done on the basis that the immigrant possesses a low level of education and earns little money compared to Native Americans. In addition, the families of the immigrants are found to have more children than those of Native Americans. This favors the immigrants so that they can be in a position to cater for public education expenses.

Moreover, immigration has a minor impact on employment and wages currently. The only effects that have been examined are for the low skilled Native Americans and those people who immigrated earlier. The little wages of the immigration lies among those people who are less educated.

According to the Borjas in his book “Friends or Strangers”, since 1950s, United States of America has been receiving a great number of immigrants who are unskilled, but were given 3 more years in school than the native Americans. In late 1980s a large number of people immigrated into America legally, they were estimated to be more than 11 million people. This was recorded as the biggest number of immigrant in one decade.

The largest percentage of the visas that are offered by the United States, land on hands of the close relatives of the American citizens. The modifications that were made in 1965 have tried in moderating the quality of the people immigrating to United States. The United States has been loosing the skilled immigrants to Australia and Canada, as it does not provide the right environment for the skilled as it used to do many years ago.

Its suggested that, for the United States of America to have an economy with fair distribution of income the following should be done; for one the unskilled and less productive immigrants should be allowed in the nation. These people would be encouraged to spend most of their time on welfare. The next thing to be done is to give a better chance to rich Americans to get richer and poor ones to become poorer. The final thing that would also be done is to give visas to only certain group of people who have attained a certain level of skills and education.

Impacts of Immigrants to the Economy of United States

Generally both legal and illegal immigrant to the United States has both positive and negative effects to the economy. The immigrants are the consumer of goods and services; they offer labor where its necessary, and they are also taxpayers.

As highlighted earlier, there are a lot of unskilled immigrants who get in to the United States either illegally or for the purpose of joining their families. Without negating the fact that such immigrants have got negative impacts to the economy since they may require help, it is important to note that they end up providing labor at low costs since they are not skilled.

As a result, the cost of production goes down and eventually companies in United States end up making more profits and hence having a positive impact to the economy. Although Borjas tries to illustrate that immigrants are not a solution to the labor and economic problems in United States, the case of Cuba illustrates that when given enough opportunities, immigrants can spur major developments in a region (Portes & Stepick p.100)

On the other hand immigrants require medical attention, education facilities, and security among other needs. The government has no ways to avoid covering costs incurred in serving the immigrants; hence the government serves the immigrants just in the same manner as the other citizens. It’s argued that the biggest group of the immigrants is exploiting the US economy than they are building it. Although other countries in the world are still affected negatively, United States is affected more bearing in mind that it is usually referred to as the country of immigrants.

It bears noting that most of the immigrants are not insured and therefore, they are a great liability to the country and to some departments like the health department. In the view of the fact most of them are not members of Medicare and Medicaid, the government ends up carrying the financial burden once get sick.

Nonetheless, it is also important to mention that although they contribute to the programs like the social security, they do not benefit from the same since the law does not recognize them as legal citizens. Therefore, as Borjas illustrates, the issue of the impact of immigrants on the economy is complicated and requires more attention.

Through increased productivity, both goods and services are obtained at relatively low costs. Several discussions have been tabled to weigh the positives and negatives of the immigrants to the United States economy leaving the positive side with more points. This is favored by the fact that, the illegal immigrants are not subjected to some of the public services, as they fear to be identified by the government. The households of the illegal immigrant spend approximately a half of what a Native American is spending.

The immigrants who are living at low standards, strain to satisfy their needs through public services especially for education and medical services. The hope for the United States economy can only come from ordering the entire illegal immigrant to leave the country. In return the US employers would increase the wages to a standard that can fit American workers. The illegal immigrants are found to do jobs that very few American citizens would do.

The immigration policy in America has not been in practice for a while. This is the reason why the relatives of the Native Americans were being favored without considering much whether they are skilled or not. There are several policies regarding the immigration in the United States of America.

There have been some attempts to change these policies to make it best for the US economy. Any policy to reduce illegal immigration should consider all types of benefits gotten from low skilled immigration. To some extent, curbing this type of immigration might make the situation worse. The low skilled individuals are known to help most of the skilled workers and other capitalists. Over a long duration of time the negative effect of these low skilled workers to the economy is small.

Analysis of Immigration Policies in United States

Immigration policies in any country do play a vital role in determining the type of immigrants who gain entry in to the country. The main reason why United States immigrants are less productive is due to its immigration policy that gives preference to the relatives of other American Immigrants despite their level of skills and other academic qualifications as highlighted earlier.

The immigration law which was amended in the year 1965 and emphasized more on unifying family members is the main reason why eighty percent of visas are for the relatives of the immigrants and even the remaining twenty percent still go to the distant relatives of the immigrants.

Worse still, studies record that in the year 1987, it is only 4% of the total immigrants who migrated to the United States on the basis of skills. Therefore, according to Borjas, the main problem with the United States results from the fact that their immigration policy is not economically motivated but sorely based on humanitarian grounds (Borjas 34).

Although the problem of immigrants in the economy of United States is evident, solving it is a complicated issue altogether. Changing the immigration policy to attract more skilled immigrants can end up affecting the economy because the skilled immigrants can only be attracted if the gap between the rich and the poor is wide. Therefore, incase United States want to maintain a fair economic distribution, attracting highly skilled immigrants may become impossible.

This is caused by the fact that the highly skilled immigrants are only attracted in places where they can get high returns for their skills and on the other hand, the lowly skilled immigrants are attracted in countries where there is fair economic distribution. Worse still, the global economy also comes in to play because even the skilled Americans would not be willing to commit themselves to improving the fate of the poor Americans but will be more focused on investing in places where they can get high returns for their skills.

In that case, it is obvious that attracting skilled immigrants cannot help entirely in solving the problem as it carries several consequences especially to the citizens in the country. Since every immigration policy has got economic implications, it is important to consider all factors before changing an immigration policy.

As much as the country needs to benefit from the skilled immigrants, there is also a great need to maintain good citizenship. Nonetheless, Borjas concluded that all factors taken in to consideration, the less skilled immigrants might prove to be more beneficial than the highly skilled immigrants who would only be seeking for high returns. In addition, since the less skilled immigrants would be more grateful to be given a chance to be in United States, they can benefit the country more since they are more likely to take their duties seriously.

To ensure that the county benefits even from the unskilled and the illegal immigrants, there are some issues that require to be taken in to consideration. For instance, paying tax is very important since it ends up increasing the government revenue.

Therefore, the government ought to establish measures to ensure that all the immigrants including the illegal immigrants are able to pay federal taxes otherwise the may end up becoming a burden to the country. Although enforcement of various policies is important, it is necessary recognize the fact that the economy also requires the contribution of the immigrants (Borjas pp. 80).


The issue of immigrants is viewed differently by both Borjas as well as by Portes & Stepick. However, although there are many differences, both studies illustrate that immigrants have got great impacts on the economy of United States.

In the ‘City on the edge: the transformation’, Portes & Stepick focuses on emphasizing on the contribution of immigrants in the development of Miami, steered by Cubans who led to Cuban revolutions. The same study also discuses the impact of other immigrants in other cities like New York as well as in South Florida where the authors state that immigrants have contributed to not only in economic but also in social and political arenas.

On the contrary, although Borjas also focuses on immigrants, the study narrows down to the issue of policies and immigrants. Borjas illustrates how immigration policies have impacted the economy of United States by determining the type of immigrants who find their way in United States. Although Borjas does not provide a solution to the problem, he contributes in shedding some light to the whole issue since he analyses the possible impact of different immigration policies.

In addition, although Borjas illustrates that there is a difference between unskilled and skilled immigrants, he points out that in each case, there are advantage and disadvantages. Even if there is a lot of literature on effects of immigrants in United States, very few studies have been conducted in the same area. Therefore, it is important for the concerned scholars to carry out studies in order to make valid conclusions-based on facts.

Works Cited

Borjas, George, J. Friends or strangers: the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy. New York: Basic Books, 1990. Print.

Portes, Alejandro & Stepick, Alex. City on the edge: the transformation of Miami. London: University of California Press, 1994. Print.

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