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We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better.Mitt Romney (2012)
The main reason why immigrants migrate from their countries to America is for a better future, a chance to live in freedom, financial stability, and better lives for themselves as well as their children. Even with all these opportunities, there are many issues immigrants face while trying to achieve equality. These issues include lack of job opportunities, racial discrimination, language problems, cultural barriers e.tc. I have often heard about all the misconceptions and mistaken beliefs about immigrants, yet I believe that this untrue, unfair and discriminatory. In this paper I will be discussing one of the biggest issues in the United states, Immigration. I am deeply affected by this topic as I as well as my family are immigrants from Nigeria and I am aware of so many obstacles immigrants face in this country. I chose this topic to research reasons behind the negative connotation of immigrants, why they are easily attached to crime and the unfair inequalities immigrants face just to obtain a better standard of living. I will do this observation from a conflict theory perspective because I believe people are manipulated into thinking this by mass media and inability for some people to accept that Immigrants are humans as well that deserve a chance at everything good America has to offer. Despite all the misconception and mistaken beliefs about immigrants, we are contributing towards the economy and the society of America.
To develop the theoretical and methodological framework for this paper, I reviewed the work of Hirschman (2014) and Hainmueller, Jens, et al (2018). I also incorporate the interpretation of the concept of Assimilation by Guillermina Jasso (2015) from The Sociology Project 2.0 Introducing the Sociological Imagination textbook. The first article discussed the opinions and discrimination against immigrants and how most Americans are beginning to see all of the positive impact immigrants have made to the united states. The second article talked about the difficulties immigrants face in becoming citizens and how there are no opportunities for them to become naturalized. The argument of the both articles I chose are similar to my argument because they both provided proof to support my argument. The method and data that was used in article 1 was a survey showing the trends in immigration to the United States and the history of the absolute and relative levels of the immigrant population in the United States. The method and data that was used in this article 2 were two different set of experiment that proves that the voucher fee for the citizenship is expensive preventing low income immigrants who want to become citizens from submitting their application.Assimilation is described as the process by which immigrants come to be incorporated into their new society by taking the cultural tastes and practices of the new society.
I was able to gather my data in class with the help of classmates using interview-based questions. We were asked to write our questions in three different index papers and the professor helped by distributing these 3 questions among students during class periods to be answered anonymously. I faced some difficulties in obtaining some answers at first because my question was not thorough enough, so I was only able to collect one. The first question I asked was, from what you have seen or heard, do you think immigrants should be allowed to come to the united states legally? I simply got the answer yes. I got this answer because my question was more close ended than open ended so it didn’t give room for a meaningful and detailed. I tried the second time and I made some changes to my questions and I was able to get more responses. The questions I asked were why are immigrants with crime and negativity, if immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime apart from the act of living in the US illegally and if illegal immigrants should be given the chance to become citizens. I also analyzed a 17 minutes long Ted talk video by Mawi Asgedoma. I incorporate this piece because media has a huge impact in reflecting and building viewers and YouTube is a popular video website where videos are posted, and millions of viewers can watch, and this has played a significant role in the way people communicate with each other.
My parents decided to move to this country eight years ago and just like many legal and illegal immigrants in America we moved in search of better opportunities, better education for me and my brother and to pursue our dreams. The United States has served as a refuge for so many immigrants running from oppression and poverty from their countries but there are faced with so many obstacles and they are discriminated and excluded from benefitting all the great opportunities in this country. Some of the common misconception is that Immigrants are always associated with crimes and negativity, immigrants are a threat to safety and engage in violence, immigrants don’t fully assimilate to the American society and immigrants are taking over the workforce leaving the native-born Americans depressed. Yet quantitative research has constantly shown that being foreign born is negatively associated with crime overall and is not significantly associated with committing either violent or property crime (Bernat, 2018). According to Fox News 2015, “Statistics show the estimated 11.7 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. account for 13.6 percent of all offenders sentenced for crimes committed in the U.S. Twelve percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences and 16 percent of drug trafficking sentences are meted out to illegal immigrants.” Are these number enough to consider immigrants as being threats to safety and criminals? Should there be fear and doubts about crimes committed by both legal and illegal immigrants? Research continue to prove that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than born citizens in United States and that immigration status may abate crime within a community (Bernat, 2018). In one of my questions, I asked why immigrants are always associated with crimes and negativity most of answers reflected that and agreed that immigrants are easily associated with crime because they are easy targets to blame and it is easy to blame foreign people because of constant terrorism. I also received an answer that thought that because of white supremacy which is a system that really objectifies anything and anyone that cannot relate to whiteness. Another also said that from the moment they come to this country especially if they come in illegally, they are criminals and also gave the Molly Tibbot case as an example. Another believes the media has an impact and exaggerates news and anything that concerns Immigrants.
Another misconception is that immigrants don’t fully assimilate to the American society. Despite the fears that immigrants don’t fully adapt to America’s society and are reluctant to learning English, numerous research as shown that immigrants have assimilated that immigrants have assimilated to American society (Bernet 2018). Assimilation might be difficult for immigrants who arrive as adults as the process of learning and adjusting will be difficult and might take a while but after some time they will adjust. Immigrants tend to speak in their native language and are attracted to places that reminds them of where they are from and who they are, but many immigrants do learn English and assimilate into the society of America. Chapter 21 also supported that Assimilation might not be meaningful especially for some immigrants who might have no interest in remaining in America so assimilation might be difficult as they are not motivated (Jasso 2015). However, there is growing evidence that the shows that new immigrants, especially their children, are assimilating well (Bernet 2018).
Along the many Americans fear that immigrants don’t fully absorb and assimilate to its society, there is also a belief that immigrants are taking over the workforce leaving the native-born Americans depressed. Immigrants are generally hardworking people that will accept any type of job to survive. Especially for the undocumented workers, they usually accept hostile and physically demanding jobs that citizens might not accept. However, legal immigrants are making use of the good education system and becoming highly trained and the legal immigrants who arrived in this country with high skills as well are taking over leading to positive economic growth and creative innovation in this country. An analysis of the most recent American Community Survey data by the United census bureau data shows that immigrants who arrived from 2011-2015 are highly educated than those who entered earlier. This shows that the higher education and skills achieved by current immigrants allows for new opportunities.
When immigrants become citizens, they are able to enjoy benefits such as legal protections, and so many other opportunities. However, the naturalization rates for immigrants are considerably low in the United states especially for low income immigrants (Hainmueller, 2018). According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)”. In other words, Naturalization is viewed as an essential point for the assimilation of immigrants in the United states. Attaining this point will might increase the economic success of immigrants and give access to equal rights and opportunities as native-born Americans such as rights to vote, protection from deportation, travelling freedom and so many more (Hainmueller, 2018). Despite all the possible benefits immigrants who become citizens might enjoy, the naturalization rate has continued to decline (Hainmueller, 2018). Two research studies conducted identified restrictions immigrants face from becoming citizens. The first experiment conducted showed that the fee for naturalization process for immigrants especially for immigrants with low income is a major obstacle. Research showed that there has been an increase from the application fee being 60 dollars in 1989 to being 725 dollars in 2017 (Hainmueller, 2018). I have a personal experience with this, my parents have been trying to get my brother’s citizenship since last year but the cost was 1,170 dollars to get it. I also know of other family members who face difficulties in acquiring their citizenship has the cost has been a barrier. The second experiment tested a set of behavioral nudges among immigrants with low incomes who qualify for federal waivers that eliminates the application fee as incentives to motivated them to become citizens (Hainmueller, 2018). This showed an increase of 41% in the naturalization application which suggested that application fees serve as an obstacle for immigrants especially with low incomes who want to become citizens (Hainmueller, 2018).
With all the many misconceptions and barriers immigrants are faced with, immigrants and the immigration system is still thriving. Research has shown that in spite of the prejudice and discrimination against immigrants, most Americans are beginning to acknowledge the positive contributions of immigrants towards the economy, advancement of Science, technology and higher Education (Hainmueller, 2018). Immigrants especially recent immigrants do assimilate to the American society and their children who arrive as young children assimilate faster. Because of the numerous sacrifices they made for their children including enduring discrimination and taking tedious jobs and many other difficulties they face, they push their children towards pursuing their dreams and excelling by reminding them of their own scarifies and leads to a high inspiration for success and growth in their endeavors. Research shows that children of immigrants perform well in American schools and are more likely to go to college than children of native born Americans (Hainmueller, 2018). Low income immigrants do not allow the fact that they don’t have citizenship to deter them from achieving success as they also contribute towards the economic and social growth of America. The sociological perspective that I adopted for my analysis is the conflict theory. This theory argues that all societies are characterized by conflict that arise from the uneven distribution of power and wealth between groups. With the issue of immigrant and immigration in the united states, we can see that when immigrants come into the united states without the proper legal paper work to work in the country, they are forced to get menial jobs in places that pays them low and they have to work twice as hard to put food on the tables for their families. We can also see that these immigrants will be easily targeted because since they came in illegally, they are viewed as the problem but the companies who employs them and profit from them are blameless. This is an example of a social problem because they are the least socially powerful in the society and the companies and employees are in power and the uneven distribution of power is clear as they will do anything to remain in power leaving the immigrants with nothing. Immigrants are driven, motivated and relentless people that will do anything to succeed. My parents are prime examples and have helped set a standard for me and my brother that nothing is unachievable. Their sacrifices have helped pushed and shaped us towards pursuing our dreams and I am thankful for them. I believe that immigrants are the future of America as they are driven and committed people who arrive here with so much passion and ambition to make it in this country and just like native born citizens, we are just people in search of all of the basic needs of life and we deserve a chance.
- Mitt Romney Quotes.” brainyquote.com. Brainymedia Inc, 2018. 30 November 2018. Https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mitt_romney_447807
- Hirschman, Charles. 2018. “Immigration to the United States: Recent Trends and Future Prospects” Malaysian journal of economic studies : journal of the Malaysian Economic Association and the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya vol. 51,1 (2014): 69-85.
- Hainmueller, Jens, et al. “A Randomized Controlled Design Reveals Barriers to Citizenship for Low-Income Immigrants.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 30 Jan. 2018, www.pnas.org/content/115/5/939.
- Manza, Jeff. The Sociology Project 2.0: Introducing the Sociological Imagination. , 2016. Print.
- Talks, TEDx, director. How Immigrants Make America Great | Mawi Asgedom | TEDxGrantPark. YouTube, YouTube, 20 July 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=72On7kjvU1c.
- Bernat, Frances. “Immigration and Crime.” Oxford Research Encyclopedias, 18 Sept. 2018, oxfordre.com/criminology/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264079-e-93.
- “How to Apply for Naturalization.” 23.11 Cuban Adjustment Act Cases. | USCIS, www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization.
- Fox News. (September 16, 2015). Exclusive crime wave data shows frightening toll of illegal immigrant criminals. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/09/16/crime-wave-elusive-data-shows-frightening-toll-illegal-immigrant-criminals/.
- US Census Bureau. “American Community Survey (ACS).” Census Bureau QuickFacts, United States Census Bureau, 11 Oct. 2018, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/data/pums.html.
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