Free Policy Making: Immigration Essay Sample
The immigration policy in America has undergone various changes over the past. It began with its enforcement being under complete control of the federal government. Gradually, this position has changed with local input into the policy slowly taking ground. The role that the states play in the policy has in in recent times created controversy, with the conflict between the federal government and the states being evident when it comes to the immigration policy. Long court battles have ensued with states choosing to draw and implement their own immigration laws, only to face opposition from the federal government. The immigration policy in America creates an area of conflict between the federal government and the states as appertains to who implements the policy.
The immigration policy in America is aimed at controlling who enters the borders of the country. It seeks to provide guidelines upon which immigrants can be successfully integrated into the American society. According to the Congressional Budget Office paper of 2006, the immigration policy fulfills four broad goals. First, it aims at bringing separated families together. This is achieved by allowing immigrants with families in America to join their families. The other goal of the immigration policy is to enable America fill deficiencies in the labor force by allowing immigrants with specific job skills to enter the country. The third goal is for the good of individuals from other countries possibly facing persecution due to their political stands, race or even religion. Admitting these immigrants provides a safe haven for them. The last goal of the immigration policy aims at maintaining fairness and equality by admitting immigrants from countries that have had low numbers of immigration into America.
The immigration policy is also put in place to define Lawful Entry of foreigners into America (CSO, 2006). This can be achieved through permanent or temporary admission. In permanent admission, the foreigners are classified as immigrants and are allowed to work in the country and even apply for citizenship at a later date. Through the temporary avenue, the foreigners referred to as nonimmigrants are allowed into the country for specific reasons such as study. Over the years, enforcement of the immigration policy has called for the collective effort of both the federal government and the local state authorities. Various immigration issues have necessitated the building of relationships between the two parties. Issues, however, arise where the states question the requirement to follow the guidelines and initiatives set by the federal government in matters to do with immigration. The conflict arises since the constitution and by extension the courts give the federal government exclusive powers to implement the immigration programs while the state’s role is not clearly defined. This is despite the fact the states deal with the daily life and activities of the immigrants in question.
The history of the immigration policy can be traced back to 1875 where laws prohibiting admission of known criminals was put in place. The federal government was also given the responsibility for checking all the immigrants entering the country. Hirota (2013) states the quota system was then introduced in 1921 where each nationality was given a share of representation in the country. Visas were therefore given out in American embassies all over the world. 1965 saw the introduction of the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments whereby immigrant workers with specific skills were admitted into the country. More recently, 1996 saw the introduction of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act where strict measures were taken to control the influx of immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was then created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 where various aspects of the immigration policy were transferred to this new body (CSO, 2006)
Over the years, the states and the federal government have been in conflict to determine who runs the immigration policies. Huntington (1997) notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has for many instances done away with attempts by the states to come up with laws that deal with immigrants. This means that the federal government is still regarded as the overseer of these programs. The states are, however, relentless in forming immigrant-related legislations. The issue, however, is the evident lack of support from the federal government that inhibits the effectiveness of these laws. The most notable of these state laws is the Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 that was targeted at immigrants in that state. Others have been efforts aimed at defining children who qualify for citizenship by narrowing the allowances given in the 14th Amendment. Generally, the federal government has been an active supporter for doing away with state legislations dealing with immigration which leads to the said conflicts between the two bodies.
The efficiency level of the enforcement of the immigration policy can be measured by the number of perceived illegal immigrants in the country. So far, the number is high showing failure in its implementation. This kind of failure is another contributing factor to the conflict between the states and the federal government in determining who draws and implements the policy. The efficiency of immigration policy, therefore, brings about a debate on the input expected and required of the states and the local law enforcement agencies. The supporters of the local involvement point at state specific strategies that will help states prevent illegal entry of foreigners which has negative impacts on the state and its economy. The downside to this, however, is the opening of avenues for law enforcement officers to frequently conduct racial profiling which is unconstitutional. Supporters of state drawn implementation policies also point to the fact that this will enable the police to get the unlimited authority conduct arrests and detain the aliens. This will lead to better efficiency and productivity of the policy. Those against this, however, note that giving the state this power erodes the trust built between the local communities and the police. This is seen to be harmful in the long run in ensuring benefits from the immigration policies.
The immigration policy in the country, therefore, brings about a conflict between the state and the federal government with the latter opposing efforts of the states to draw legislations to do with immigrants. The states, however, have their valid points in drumming support for the legislations. The debate, however, remains on the constitutionality of such ventures since the Supreme Court has often supported the supremacy of the state when it comes to enforcement of the immigration policies. However, with the states not relenting in their push for a more active role in immigration policies, the conflicts are not about to end.
Huntington, S. P. (1997). The erosion of American national interests. Foreign Affairs, 28-49.
Hirota, H. (2013). The Moment of Transition: State Officials, the Federal Government, and the Formation of American Immigration Policy. Journal of American History, 99(4), 1092-1108.
Congressional Budget Office (CBO). (2006). Immigration Policy in the United States. Congressional Budget Office paper. Retrieved 24 February 2015 http://www.cbo.gov/publication/17625/
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