Should America Restrict Immigration
The simple web search of the definition of an immigrant will bring you to definitions all revolving around one similar meaning. According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), illegal immigration is the ‘The unauthorized resident immigrant population is defined as all foreign-born non-citizens who are not legal residents. Most unauthorized residents either entered the United States without inspection or were admitted temporarily and stayed past the date they were required to leave. . .’ The United States of America is a nation founded on a form of immigration (colonization) and it was built on the backbones of another form of immigrants (slaves). Ironically according to the UNHCR the United States of America ranked five on the top five most difficult nations to gain citizenship to in the world. Due to an increase of global conflict and scarcity of resources, the number of refugees is at a record high. According to the UNHCR forced displacement is at a record of 68.5 million people.
Illegal immigration has always been a problem the United States of America has attempted to address. 11.6 million people in the U.S are undocumented citizens (CIS, 2018). In 2018, 521,090 people were apprehended at the US border (CBP, 2017). Among them, Nearly a third of all people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border were families and children — about 157,248 out of 395,579 total apprehensions (CBP, 2017). The U.S. civilian workforce includes 8 million unauthorized immigrants, accounting for 5% of those who were working or were unemployed and looking for work (Chavez, 2013). Every new administration comes with a new wave of immigration policies to greet the new wave of migrants. America’s immigration problem clearly isn’t going away and the country needs to begin adopting immigration policies that make obtaining legal citizenship/residency easier.
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Undocumented citizens in America undergo an extremely difficult process when it comes to gaining legal residency status and throughout the process, most are working jobs to support their families, there families back home in their native nations, and themselves. Due to the lack of legal status within the country, illegal immigrants are more likely to be exploited for there labor and often suffer many disparities when it comes to accessing resources. When it comes to health care noncitizens are significantly more likely than citizens to be uninsured. Among the nonelderly population, 17% of lawfully present immigrants and nearly four in ten (39%) undocumented immigrants are uninsured compared to less than one in ten (9%) the U.S. born and naturalized citizens (Ku, 2009). In terms of education among undocumented youths ages 18-24, 40% have less than a high school education compared to 8% for U.S.-born counterparts (US Dept. of Education, 2015) and about 5 to 10% of undocumented students pursue higher education, and far fewer successfully graduate with a degree (US Dept. of Education, 2015). The lack of access to resources can affect health, growth, and development. Currently, there is 8 million tax paying undocumented citizens in America’s workforce. Undocumented citizens suffer economic disparities and work in harsh and often illegal work conditions.
There are barriers that limit and prevent undocumented citizens from accessing resources. These barriers consist of language, lack of knowledge of rights, and fear of retaliation from immigration authorities which lead immigrants to work in high-risk work environments. These barriers are supported and reinforced by the Trump administration as well. The Trump administration embraced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act in August 2017. The RAISE Act seeks to reduce the levels of legal immigration to the United States by 50% by halving the number of green cards issued. The bill would also impose a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year and would end the visa diversity lottery (The White House, 2018).
In addition, the Trump administration has repeatedly made efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and has threatened to end Birthright citizenship (The White House, 2018). According to John Rawls’ social justice refers to “conditions in which all members of society have the same basic rights, protections, opportunities, obligations, and social benefits.”. Undocumented citizens are prevented through systems and institutions from accessing the basic rights that US citizens are entitled to. This is socially unjust due to the fact that their documentation status does not determine whether or not they are apart of a society.
Social workers are often the first person people talk to about there immigration issues and undocumented status. The social worker has the ability to educate clients on resources available to them alleviating some of the issues faced being undocumented, acts as a resource broker by being knowledgeable of the resources available and linking applicable programs s to the client, helps the client apply for eligible Visa programs, and also assumes the role of an educator by providing relevant information to invalidate any perceived stigma the client has. This delivery of support on a case-by-case basis stems from Mary Richmond’s development of casework practice, which originates from the idea that care has to focus on the individual (Tannenbaum & Reisch, 2001). This intervention underscores the value of service, which states that social workers help people address social problems – assisting undocumented citizens to access resources – without expecting anything in return (“NASW Code of Ethics”).
An advantage of this intervention in combating barriers to the undocumented citizen is recognizing and catering to the individual’s unique experiences and thus, being able to pinpoint specific resources that pertain to there situations. Another advantage is that we could see immediate improvements to the quality of life once these undocumented citizens take advantage of resources they may have not been aware of or had problems accessing.