Immigration to the U.S. is a complex phenomenon on the demographic of the United States. It has been one of the biggest sources of population growth as well as cultural change.
There are controversies surrounding the economic, social and political aspects of immigration. The controversies are about ethnicity, economic benefits, settlement patterns, impact on social mobility, jobs for non-immigrants, crime as well as voting behavior. In 2006, the country which accepted the most number of legal immigrants as permanent residents was the United States. It was more than the number of immigrants accepted in all other countries of the world combined. Great numbers of immigrants to the United States come from Mexico, India, the Philippines and China.
In 2008, there were over one million individuals naturalized as U.S. citizens. The ethnic quotas on immigration were officially removed in 1965 after which the number of first generation immigrants quadrupled. The number increased dramatically from 9.6 million in 1970 to almost 38 million in 2007.
Reasons for Immigration to the US
There are several reasons for immigration but the major reason for individuals migrating to the United States is family reunification. Family reunification accounted for 66% of the number of foreign nationals who became legal permanent residents in the United States. Only 13% became legal permanent residents on the basis of employment skills and only 17% for humanitarian reasons.
Impact of Immigration
In the late 1980s, there was a study done on the impact of immigration to the economy and the results were surprisingly positive. Immigrants, including the illegal immigrants, contribute as much as ten billion dollars to the U.S. economy every year, according to James Smith. Because of the increase in immigration, there was an increase in pay for higher-skilled workers, lower wages for some owners of capital and lower prices for goods and services that were produced by immigrant labor. This all resulted in the overall gain to the domestic economy of the United States.
There is also report of immigrant workers competing with local or domestic workers for low-skilled jobs. Immigrants also specialize in activities that they have built and that would otherwise be non-existent in the area. These activities therefore can be beneficial for all the domestic residents of the said area.
Immigration to the U.S. also causes great diversity in culture and religion. Especially because of immigration from South Asia, the religious composition of the United States has enlarged and is continually growing.
Americans have been found to show positive attitude to groups of immigrants that have been present and visible for the past century but negative attitude towards groups that have only recently arrived. In a study that was done in 2002, soon after the September 11 attacks, it has been found that 55% of Americans favor the decreasing of legal immigration while only 15% favored increasing it and 27% favored keeping it as it is.