Comment by Sucharita Sengupta
Immigration continues to be treated as one of the most contentious topics in USA, more so, because USA is a nation of immigrants. However much of the debate regarding immigrants can be found in the past mythology. The article “Five Myths about Immigration” published in the Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 9 May, 2010 deals precisely with the existing myths on immigration and whether immigration can be considered as a blessing in America.
The first myth that the article explores is how immigrants are responsible for unemployment for the U.S population. Immigrants account for 12.5 percent of the U.S population and make up about 15 percent of the workforce. Since the 1980s, Immigrants and their children have accounted for almost 58 percent of the growth of the U.S population. The article claims that low U.S fertility rates and the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers mean that immigrants are going to be the prime workforce in the decades ahead. On one hand, it is true that this contributes towards a decrease in the overall wage of the workers including the U.S workers, but on the other hand immigrants also stimulate growth by creating new consumers, entrepreneurs and investors. The second myth is that most of the immigrants came in illegally , particularly 1890 can be considered as a watershed when immigrants made up to 14.8 percent of our population. Although it is true that unauthorized immigrant population includes more people from Mexico than from any other country, Mexicans are also the largest group of lawful immigrants. There is a third kind of perception which notes that immigrants do not integrate into the larger society. In the present scenario, immigrant integration takes a generation or two. Learning English facilitates this process. However, lack of legal status of millions of immigrants interrupt integration as illegal immigrants are ineligible for in-state tuition. The Fourth myth is that curbing illegal crossings will make the American citizens safe since the job of protecting the nation’s borders is a huge task. After September11 2001, the authorities have taken special care to protect the country’s borders through strict measures like securing cargo shipment, increasing regional cooperation and so on. The Border Patrolling has also increased to more than 20,000 agents. The final point which the article highlights is that reform regarding the immigration laws cannot happen in one election year. However, all the significant immigration bills passed so far were done in the election years. The list dates back to the Refugee Act of 1980 till the recent Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in the 1996.
The article thus traces some of the focal perceptions regarding immigration in the American society. It concludes on the note that changes regarding the existing immigration laws should be ushered in gradually as attempts to foster fast changes have met with deadlocks. However, this does not imply a lack of immigration reform.
For details please visit: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Five-myths-about-immigration/Article1-541159.aspx