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Impact of Immigration on United States’ Economy

Immigration is an intentional transfer of nationals of one country into another country for the reason of relocation. A corresponding term, “Emigration”, indicates movement out of a country, specifically, movement from the point of view of the country of depart rather than the country of entrance. The terms apply only to international movements and not to movements within a single country, however large-scale they may be. (Scot 1) Both immigration and emigration entail personal option.

The emigrant did not have to leave his country, at any rate not at the moment he did, while conditions may have made departure expedient; the immigrant did not have to elect the particular place he did. The immigrant is not merely a refugee who has fled his native land; he arrives in his new country with the intention, or at least the possibility of remaining permanently. (Scot 1) Although immigration is quite personal, involving the whole range of human emotions and motivations, it may occur on a very large scale.

From that standpoint, immigration is a particularly modern phenomenon, most applicable to human movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Scot 1) History of Immigration in the United States: Immigration has been one of the defining features of U. S. society throughout its history. In 2000 approximately 10% of Americans were born abroad. From 1820, the time the U. S. government began to collect statistics on the number of persons coming to America, to the end of the 20th century, over 65 million persons entered as immigrants.

During the era prior to 1819, approximately 900,000 Europeans arrived along with 433,000 slaves from Africa and the West Indies. Many immigrants stayed only to work for short periods of time and returned home. The return rate for the period 1908 to 1957, when the federal government kept return data, indicates that about 30% of immigrants went home. Some of them migrated again to America, however, either to work temporarily or settle permanently. (Reimers & Rowland 1) The figure of 65 million immigrants includes only those counted by the authorities; many others entered without going through the legal process.

America did not have border patrols along the northern and southern borders until 1924, and even then many persons were able to avoid inspection. The precise number of those entering without documents or those who overstayed their visas is not known, but on the basis of the 2000 census, officials estimated that nearly 9 million undocumented or illegal immigrants lived in the United States in that year. That total had increased to an estimated 11million to 12 million by 2005. (Reimers & Rowland 1) Where do the most immigrants come from?

Immigrants to America have come from all points of the world, but despite their diversity, they often shared many things in common. Most of them came for economic reasons, whether during the colonial era or in the post World War II world. When changed economic circumstances such as shortages of land or limited urban employment affected immigrants personally, they decided to seek a better life in America. Many others immigrated to America to worship as they pleased. Political freedom was another motivating factor.

The federal government did not legislate a refugee policy until after World War II, but groups such as the German “Forty-eighters,” who fled abortive revolutions in 1848, were motivated by politics. A still smaller number were adventurers or men trying to avoid military service in their lands. Regardless of motives, immigrants were usually not the poorest members of society. Rather they were people who had enough money for passage and were aware of the possibilities of a better life in America. (Reimers & Rowland 1) Beginning of Immigration in the United States:

Though, History of Immigration is itself a detailed topic to be discussed, but we analyze only the significant events, in this regards. Colonial and Early National Immigration: • Immigration takes its roots back to the colonial era in 1630s when great migration of Puritans took place because of labor shortage in America. These immigrants were white English males who agreed to work as indentured servants in return to their passage into America. Women followed them eventually. • From 1619 onwards slavery of blacks became legal practice and their number grew after 1660s.

In the 18th century, northern colonies also imported indentured labor, most of it coming from Northern Ireland and the German states. In addition, beginning in 1717 the English sent 50,000 convicts to America to serve terms of labor. • The initial European immigration from 1607 and 1680 was predominately English. Besides the many Puritans, who often came in family groups and who feared religious persecution, and the Quakers who suffered actual oppression after 1660, a greater number of Englishmen and -women sought economic opportunities in the commerce of the New World. • Another model developed in New York.

The Dutch West India Company wanted profits, and for the development of New York it needed people. Thus the company was quite willing to accept non-Dutch settlers. As a result of Dutch toleration, New Amsterdam (now, New York City) became ethnically diverse. • The migration of 3,000 Palatines to New York in 1710 inaugurated the 18th-century immigration of over 100,000 Germans, including Lutherans, Reformed, Moravians, and Mennonites. These Germans were called “Pennsylvania Dutch” in America. While Pennsylvania was the center of German speakers, smaller groups went to Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, and Georgia.

• Apart from English, Germans, and Scotch-Irish, a variety of other peoples settled in the colonies. Many were attracted to New York and Pennsylvania, but smaller groups could be found throughout the New World. Sephardic Jews from Brazil and the Dutch West Indies began to settle in North American ports as early as 1654, when a group arrived in New York City. By the time of the first federal census in 1790, the population of the United States reflected this growing diversity. Black slaves made up 20% of the population and doubled that proportion in the South.

During the Revolutionary era northern states began to abolish slavery within their borders. (Reimers & Rowland 1) Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Immigration: • For 40 years after 1790, immigration was relatively low. Some Irish, both Protestant and Catholic, arrived along with Germans and with French exiles from the French and Haitian revolutions. • A new phase of immigration began in the 1830s and continued for a century until limited by the immigration restriction acts of the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and World War II. Some 5 million newcomers arrived between 1830 and the Civil War.

• The enclosure movement triggered an agricultural revolution in England between 1750 and 1850. It necessitated the removal of many poor peasant cottagers as surplus labor. Most of the displaced peasants eventually found work elsewhere in England, but some put together the means to emigrate and moved to America. • Then blight ruined the potato crops of 1845 and 1849. Simultaneously, their landlords commenced a process of wholesale eviction of surplus peasant laborers that continued for 20 years. • . The skilled operatives and technical experts represented a basic change in the underlying causes of immigration.

Most previous immigrants had been pushed out of Europe more than they were pulled to America. • The Irish famine immigrants and other impoverished peasant immigrants had been forced to leave even though there might have been little unskilled work for them in the United States. But immigrants after 1860, even if they lacked skills, were positively drawn to America by the prospect of jobs in the industries. • The middle decades of the 19th century also witnessed immigrants from Asia and Mexico. When the news of the 1848 gold rush reached China, many young men from Canton decided to seek riches in “Gold Mountain.

” Tens of thousands made the long journey to California, but few became rich. • After the 1880s the patterns of immigration from Europe shifted. Increasingly, persons from southern and eastern Europe. Jews, Italians, Poles, Czechs, Greeks, and Slovaks dominated the immigration statistics. By 1896 a majority of European immigrants came from southern and Eastern Europe and the proportion grew until immigration was drastically cut during World War I in the New World. • American alarm over the economic and social problems of their emerging industrial society often focused on the living and working conditions of immigrants.

The newcomers were increasingly blamed for violent strikes, such as the railroad upheaval in 1877. As a result Congress began to restrict immigration. In the early 19th century, states regulated immigration, but they did little to keep out persons deemed undesirable. When the federal courts declared that immigration was a national issue, Congress passed the first federal law dealing with immigration. (Reimers & Rowland 1) The New Immigrants: In December 2005 the U. S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would have (1) Subjected anyone who helped undocumented aliens to jail terms of five years;

(2) Classified undocumented immigrants as felons; (3) Expedited the deportation process; (4) Increased security at the U. S. border. The Senate did not pass the House bill or its own, more moderate legislation. However, measures affecting immigration were enacted in 2006. The appropriation act for the Department of Homeland Security included nearly $1. 2 billion in additional funding for strengthening border protection, including some 1,500 new Border Patrol agents. A separate act, signed by President Bush on Oct. 26, 2006, authorized the construction of 700 miles (1,120 km) of new fencing along the southwestern U.

S. border. At the time, more than 55% of the illegal immigrants were arriving from Mexico, some by foot. As expected, the 110th Congress, which convened in January 2007, took up immigration reform. A bipartisan Senate bill that would grant legal status to up to 12 million immigrants, prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers, and fortify the U. S. border failed to be enacted in spring 2007. President George W. Bush, who supported the measure, went to Capitol Hill on June 12 to lobby Republicans on behalf of the bill. (Reimers & Rowland 1) Immigration and Business Cycles and Kuznets Cycles:

Capitalist economies have been subject to various periodic undulations, and the U. S. economy has been no exception. The most well-known of these fluctuations is the business cycle, which, in the United States, lasts typically three to five years and is associated with inventory changes. Some economists believe that the pattern of deep depression roughly every 20 years is an element in a 20-year economic cycle, called the Kuznets cycle (after the U. S. economist Simon Kuznets). Unlike the business cycle, the Kuznets cycle involves variations in investment in machinery and buildings, not in inventories.

The cycle takes as long as it does because the planning and gestation period for fixed investment is very long. In the U. S. the cycle was also exacerbated by the pattern of immigration. (Size and Growth of the Economy 1) While there is as yet no complete theory of the Kuznets cycle, most accounts of it run something like this: At the pit of a great depression, such as the one in the 1849’s, businessmen engage in little or no investment and may even run down past investment by failing to replace worn-out equipment. Eventually, however, firms begin again to order goods for inventory.

Production then picks up and unemployment drops. As the economy recovers bottlenecks begin to appear, and firms buy new equipment and perhaps also new plants to break the bottlenecks. Labor markets tighten up, wage rates rise, and workers are drawn into the industrial cities from the surrounding countryside, producing a demand for housing and a secondary building boom. Workers are also drawn in from overseas. Immigration picks up. The demand for housing increases further, with rising immigration, and the booming economy also stimulates demand for transportation services, which calls for investment in transportation systems.

The boom is now full-fledged. There are periodic inventory adjustments and business-cycle depressions, but they are short and mild. Eventually, however, the big investment boom comes to an end. The next inventory cycle brings a sharp depression and heavy unemployment. Migration to the cities from the countryside and from overseas is discouraged, and the economy moves into a long depressed period. There are periodic recoveries, but they are short, weak and incomplete, until the imbalance in investment is eventually worked off, when a new long boom begins.

(Size and Growth of the Economy 1) The evidence shows that there have been long undulations of this type in investment, the growth rate of national product, immigration, and even in marriage and birthrates. The Kuznets cycle, then, seems to have been a pervasive phenomenon, affecting the U. S. economy and population, at least up to the great depression of the 1930s. Since that time the strength of the cycle may have weakened because of the altered roles of immigration and government finance in the post-World War II U. S. economy.

Overall, immigration has played a much smaller role in the United States than before World War I. Thus one of the stimulants to the Kuznets cycle has been missing. Second, government expenditures are now very much larger, relative to national product, than they were before World War II. They communicate their own shocks to the economy, but they do not follow the 20-year pattern of the Kuznets cycle and thus they help to counter those forces in the economy that tend to produce the cycle. According to one authority, however, the great Baby Boom after World War II was a Kuznets-cycle phenomenon.

Following World War II there was an investment boom, just like those that had occurred in the 19th century. The labor market became very tight and particularly favorable for young people. The tightness of the labor market was not relieved, as it had been in the 19th century, by a flood of immigrants. Thus wage rates stayed high and the careers of young people developed quickly and successfully. Marriage and child-bearing were encouraged among them. Thus the Baby Boom had clear economic origins. (Size and Growth of the Economy 1)

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