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Table of Contents
- Historical Overview of American Immigration Policy
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- Official Position of the US Government
- Economic and Social Impacts of Massive Deportation
- Constitutional Status of New Legislation
- Addressing Issues of Financial Costs and Institutional Incapacity
- Living in an Atmosphere of Fear
- Related Free Political Essays
The contemporary society of the United States may currently witness the profound changes in the national immigration policy of the United States. For decades, the American government sought to restrict the flow of immigrants and prevent the growth of immigrant groups within the national borders. The tendency was largely the result of the general consensus about immigrants’ inability to assimilate and their drastic influence on the cultural identity of the Americans. Nowadays, Donald Trump, the newly elected president, strives to restrict the illegal immigration by closing the borders and deporting 11 millions of undocumented Mexican immigrants while risking to undermine the mutually beneficial economic partnership between the USA and Mexico (O’Neil 44-45). While such measures reflect a strong desire to preserve the racial and cultural homogeneity of the American population, they may have numerous aggravating results. Specifically, discriminative and unconstitutional deportation of non-citizens may cause tremendous political, economic and social problems.
Historical Overview of American Immigration Policy
A close look at the development of the US immigration policy indicates a strong prejudice against immigrant groups. During the nineteenth century, the rising hostilities toward immigrants led to the adoption of restrictive laws that considerably reduced the flow of cheap labor from Europe, Africa, and Asia. For instance, the emergence of the anti-Oriental movement is commonly attributed to a popular belief that foreign cultures have an obviously deteriorating effect on American identity and economic success (Oppenheimer et al. 26). During the economic downturns in the 1870s, the public opinion tended to regard the massive Chinese immigration “as a menace to [American] civilization” due to their seemingly strong incapability of cultural assimilation (Oppenheimer et al. 22). The Chinese Expulsion Act of 1882 barred merchants, students, diplomats, and travelers from entering the United States (Oppenheimer et al. 22). Furthermore, all immigrants coming from the so-called “Asiatic Barred Zone” were kept out of the United States under the 1917 law while the Eastern and Southern Europeans were prevented from crossing the American border according to the 1924 Immigration Act (Chavez 64-65). Thus, the national legislation effectively perpetuated popular concerns regarding possible impacts of immigration on the racial complexion and cultural identity of the US population. Racial and ethnic stereotypes were expertly exploited by the state officials to justify the restrictive immigration policy.
During the twenty-first century, the American government continued to impose harsh limitations on the immigration from Europe, Africa, and Asia while causing the growth of the Latin American and Mexican immigration. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed a bill that effectively outlawed the former quota system and put the priority on family members and skilled professionals (Cadei). As a result of the new law, in the 1970s the number of Europeans and Asians coming to the USA remained relatively low, while there were millions of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America entering the country (Cadei). There are several reasons that may explain the uncontrolled flow of immigrants from South American countries. The United States used the new legislation to attract the support of the post-colonial states by promoting a “good neighbor” policy during the Cold War (Cadei). At the same time, the Mexican immigrants and their relatives came under the Bracero Program or risked crossing the border illegally due to a constant demand for unskilled and low-paid labor in the agricultural sector (Cadei). The historical accounts strongly indicate the correlation between the economic incentives and the growth of the immigrant flow. Meanwhile, the huge number of undocumented immigrants from the Latin America is a direct result of a discriminative policy against European and Asian immigrants that the American government has been systematically enforcing during the last 150 years.
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Official Position of the US Government
The newly elected President of the United States appears to be a strong advocate of protectionism. During his first months of presidency, Donald Trump applied huge efforts for the realization of a restrictive immigration policy. The American leader issued several executive orders that together provide an institutional framework for a massive deportation of undocumented immigrants. The first one sought to militarize the US borders and accelerate the process of deportation (Kocher). The second memo envisioned the revival of the Secure Communities Program that was designed to foster the cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies in apprehension and detention of non-citizens (Kocher). The last order, in turn, denied the green-card owners the right to enter the United States (Kosher). The presented findings illustrate a strong intention to restrict the foreign immigration. Moreover, the Trump administration plans to launch the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the USA. The American leader has already presented the project to the Congress and asked for the allocation of 1,6 billion dollars for building the wall (O’Neil 44). The presented findings strongly suggest the immigration policy of Donald Trump will be a huge and rather costly project. The US President clearly intends to mobilize tremendous financial and human resources to close the national borders.
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In fact, the immigration policy of the Trump administration strongly echoes popular nativist views. According to various public statements, the US President clearly justifies the implementation of restrictive policies with the necessity to prevent a free movement of “Mexican and Latin American “bad hombres” including “drug traffickers, criminals and “rapists” across the American border (Romero). In addition to limiting the illegal immigration and fighting crime, the new legislation is aimed at persuading the employers “to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers” (Chavez 64). The assertion suggests that the American government strives to protect the American workers from unnecessary competition with the immigrants. However, the current immigration policy perpetuates the already existing forms of racial discrimination despite the seemingly noble intentions. According to the so-called “America First” policy, the Trump administration seeks to exile the foreign-born individuals by focusing the public attention on the situation related to Mexican immigrants (Hong 150). While portraying the immigrants as criminals and a threat to the country`s economy, the Trump administration effectively exploits the anti-immigrant sentiments and perpetuates the racial animosity. The discriminative policy has already produced good results. The number of international students willing to enter the US universities shrank by 40 percent while refugee and asylum seekers are forced to seek protection in Canada instead of the USA (Hong 150). The evidence suggests that the government intentionally drives immigrants away from the United States by creating legal obstacles for their economic integration and subsequent naturalization. Thus, the legislative reform highly resembles a national campaign, aimed at maintaining the racial homogeneity of American society.
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Economic and Social Impacts of Massive Deportation
Massive deportation will lead to economic stagnation. More precisely, the intensification of policy enforcement will deprive employers of a rich source of unskilled labor. Many sociologists argue that a stable demand for cheap and unqualified workers is attributable to popular unwillingness of the white population to take low-paid jobs (Chavez 65). Therefore, an unrestricted flow of Mexican immigrants is a vitally important condition for the economic prosperity of the United States. According to the Social Security Administration, the undocumented immigrants pay 12 billion dollars in taxes every year (Hong 146). The American society greatly benefits from the tax revenues arising from starting a business, purchasing a car or a house (Hong 146-147). The deportation of immigrants will deprive the US government of an additional source of income. Moreover, the removal of non-citizens will drastically affect small communities. The immigrants are more likely to start a small business and are responsible for 30 percent growth of the sector between 1990 and 2010 (Hong 147). The continuation of this tendency is essential for the survival of small postmanufacturing towns including Liberty and Middletown. During the 1960s and 1970s, the population of these cities shrank due to the absence of industrial enterprises (Gibson 22). Nowadays, Mexican immigrants constitute the majority of local residents and have largely contributed to the revitalization of small cities by filling the agricultural workforce, starting a business, and participating in the community projects (Gibson 23). Due to heavy dependence on immigrants for filling the existing niches in the labor market and covering the costs of social services, the new legislation is likely to cause a massive shortage of low-paid and unqualified workers and impose significant constraints on local and federal budgets.
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Consequently, the US society may soon face an unprecedented social crisis due to the reduction of tax payments. The deportation of immigrants is most likely to aggravate the consequences of population ageing. The economic development of the USA is largely driven by young immigrants who constitute the majority of the workforce in fields, restaurants, and industrial companies (Hong 147-148). Once the foreign workers are sent back home, the American government will not be able to care for the underprivileged and elderly population without a constant influx of immigrants’ taxes into the social services (Hong 147-148). The tendency may lead to a significant deterioration of living conditions for a considerable portion of the US population. The low-income families and elderly people are likely to suffer from unavailability of social services including financial support and medical care. Moreover, the new legislation may have a negative impact on general well-being of the immigrants. The non-citizens currently have a limited access to medical services. Medi-Cal offers help to low-income children while more than 5 million individuals younger than 18 years of age are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Gostin and Cathaoir). Due to the adoption of the new immigration policy, the immigrants may refuse to apply for the state-sponsored programs to avoid the detection (Gostin and Cathaoir). As a result, numerous women and children will not receive vaccines and professional help while the untreated patients will largely contribute to the spread of communicable and sexually transmitted diseases (Gostin and Cathaoir). The presented findings illustrate a gruesome picture of economic depression and social crisis. The Trump administration, in its turn, seems indifferent to possible consequences of the immigration reform that may considerably decrease the pace of economic development and raise numerous health-related issues by driving away young immigrants.
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Constitutional Status of New Legislation
The new immigration policy is widely recognized as unconstitutional since the recently adopted Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act targets the convicted individuals as well as non-criminals and prevents the detainees from defending their right to stay in the United States. Under the new legislation, the category of deportable individuals includes the previously convicted and arrested immigrants (Hong 126). The immigration agencies are charged with sending home the non-citizens with the final orders of removal and those that “pose a risk to the public safety” (Hong 126). Overall, the target population includes from six to eight million people, and even more depending on the definition of “a risk to the public safety” (Hong 126). In addition to the expansion of legal notions, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are instructed to depart from the former limitations imposed on the procedure of expedient removal. The immigration agents may stop and deport all non-citizens including 11 millions of undocumented immigrants without court hearings (Hong 136). An extreme extension of executive powers grants the immigration services the unprecedented freedom of actions. The measures may provide a strong incentive to disregard individual freedoms to accelerate the process of massive deportation by avoiding judicial procedures.
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Indeed, the extreme enforcement measures are inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the US Constitution. The Trump administration failed to consider the legal implications of the immigration reform. The forced deportation without legal representation is a direct violation of the due process clauses, codified in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that prevent the US government from abusing an individual`s right to “life, liberty and property” without due process of law (Aparicio). In 2001, the Supreme Court declared that the immigrants should be granted the same individual rights and freedoms as the naturalized citizens regardless of their current status (Aparicio). Moreover, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the abolishment of birthright citizenship while the Supreme Court clearly states the American-born children of undocumented immigrants are the “subject to jurisdiction” (Aparicio). Thus, there are no legal grounds for depriving the detained individuals of their constitutional right to legal hearings. The Trump administration may be accused of exciding the presidential powers for planning to deport the whole families despite the eligibility of American-born children to the full American citizenship. The evidence strongly suggests that the immigration reform is likely to cause the rise of political opposition against a massive deportation of the non-citizens.
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Addressing Issues of Financial Costs and Institutional Incapacity
Since the constitutional provisions may reduce the number of freedom violations, the implementation of Trump’s reform is likely to overwhelm the current immigration court system. In other words, the state apparatus is drastically ill-equipped for handling the legal aspects of the process. Some experts expect to see the total breakdown in the national justice and deportation systems since there is no practical way for the immigration agencies and courts to process millions of immigrants without the violation of their constitutional right to a fair trial (Gibson 23-24). The assertion suggests that the current state of immigration agencies largely hinders the realization of presidential agenda due to the low level of institutional capacity. The resolution of this problem would require hiring new police officers, judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers to achieve the declared goal (Aparicio). These extreme measures may turn into a costly campaign, aimed at maintaining the racial homogeneity of the US population and cause a financially burdensome expansion of bureaucratic institutions.
Indeed, the enforcement of new legislation will lead to a tremendous increase in government budget expenditure. According to recent estimations, a massive deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants will take 20 years and cost 500 billion dollars (Aparicio). The completion of the process envisions a large-scale personal expansion. The US President has already authorized the hiring of 10,000 new agents for ICE and 5,000 for the Custom and Border Patrol (Hong 127). The Department of Homeland Security argues that such steps will cost additional 1,3 billion dollars in taxes paid by the US citizens (Hong 128). The allocation of the required funds is likely to impose formidable constraints on federal and local budgets. In fact, the popular calls for the state authorities to assist in apprehension and detention of noncitizens put the local authorities in an uncomfortable position. While the states are threatened with the withdrawal of federal funding, the local law enforcement is charged with helping federal agents to identify and detain undocumented immigrants until their legal status is determined by an immigration officer or a judge (Hong 128). In Los Angeles alone, the detention of noncitizens costs 25 million dollars per year; it is a huge amount of money that could be spent on schools, teachers, and resolution of pressing social issues (Hong 129). Thus, the implementation of the new immigration policy will lead to a sizable decrease in federal funding for social services and relief programs. The massive deportation of undocumented immigrants is likely to result in the drastic deterioration of living standards for millions of US citizens due to the enforcement of unconstitutional state regulations.
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Living in an Atmosphere of Fear
Living in fear of forced deportation led to a striking level of dissatisfaction with the state policies. The immigrant communities currently live in a constant danger of being detected by the immigration agencies during raids and being deported according to the President’s executive orders (O’Neil 44). The target groups responded to the unconstitutional campaign with the growth of popular distrust toward the law enforcement. In Los Angeles, the implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program led to a 25 percent drop in reports of sexual abuse and a 10 percent decrease in reports of domestic violence among the Latino community (Hong 128). Similarly, many families with a mixed immigration status suffer from the consequences of self-imposed isolation. They tend to cancel medical appointments, take children out of school, stop visiting public places, and refrain from participation in local events (O’Neil 46). Hence, some immigrant communities are likely to experience deep estrangement from mainstream society since they prefer hiding and waiting for meaningful changes instead of defending their right to stay in the USA.
In other instances, the enforcement of the federal policy led to an increase in political activism. Local communities have developed effective strategies of countering the state-sponsored campaign, aimed at identification and mass deportation of undocumented individuals. In some cities, political activists successfully pressed local authorities to adopt sanctuary policies, i.e. an official refusal to use city resources to help the federal government identify and detain non-citizens (Kosher). Various immigrant rights organizations created rapid response teams that consist of enthusiastic volunteers who document and record the ICE activities (Kosher). The rapid response teams use video materials to undermine the popular support for the immigration reform by uncovering the magnitude of social injustice (Kosher). Moreover, political activists in Ohio established the position of the Community Deportation Advocate whose main responsibility is to assist the immigrant families during and after the process of deportation (Kosher). Although these strategies are based on a case-by-case approach to the pressing issue, they indicate the overall willingness of non-citizens and concerned individuals to take a stand against the inhuman treatment of immigrants. The development of anti-governmental activism, in its turn, may lead to the formation of a strong political opposition against the unconstitutional immigration reform.
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