What Is Immigration?

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This article will discuss how immigration can be defined and what it means to immigrate. We will also briefly examine the terms that fall under the definition of immigration, such as asylum seekers, forms of immigration, and undocumented persons. Let’s begin by defining immigration.

Immigration is the movement of people from their country of origin to a foreign country where they are not natives. People travel to become permanent residents. Hence, travel for visiting purposes and tourists do not fall under the immigration meaning. People migrate from one country to another for several reasons: familial, social, political, personal, or economic.



Modern-day immigration traces its roots back to the post-World War II period. Imperial participation in the defense of the United Kingdom resulted in increasing immigration during the 1950s and ’60s. However, hundreds of immigrants are from Asia, mostly Pakistan and India. This is a great example of immigration from history. In the rebuilding of Europe’s infrastructure, there is a great hand of immigrants. Immigrants with high skills and good qualifications in their home countries played an economic role by taking low-skilled and low-paid work. They faced hostility and discrimination. Hence, this leads to the formation of minority communities and ethnic groups. This resulted in the assimilation of diverse cultures in European countries.

There was an inflow of Asylum seekers in Western Europe. Asylum became a large-scale issue in the 1990s. Hence, states started maintaining control over their borders and ports of entry. They begin to properly check immigration status, illegal immigration, and immigrants who can stay as permanent residents. The effectiveness of border security operations was properly examined. The selection of legal immigrants varies in different states. However, in the U.S., there are three components of legal immigration flows:

  • Humanitarian, including asylum seekers and refugees.
  • Family-based immigration system including parents, spouses, or children of U.S. citizens.
  • Employment-based immigration system. Different categories of employees, including unskilled labor and investors.

Immigration Statistics

The United Nations reported that the number of international migrants was 191 million in 2005. It has risen to 200 million immigrants globally by 2006, according to the International Organization of Migration. International migrants reached 244 million by 2015—Europe, Asia, and the U.S. host the largest number of immigrants. Hence, the U.S. has the largest immigrant population with 19% of the world’s total. However, a survey by Gallup 2012 found that 640 million adults would want to immigrate if they had an opportunity. Most of them want to move to developed countries—those who would use the U.S. as their resident country were 23%. Seven percent of them would love to immigrate to the UK. Other top desired destination countries include France, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Spain.


Benefits of immigration

The process of immigration is associated with great social, cultural, and economic benefits to both the immigrants and the states. However, both the home country and the host country get impacted by immigration. Even American children will have an impact on their lives if they choose to go to another country or even continent.

The benefits of immigration are manifold. They offer opportunities for individuals from Latin America and Central America to obtain permanent residence and escape fear of persecution in their origin countries. Through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigrants can secure immigrant status and bring unmarried children to reunite with their families. Additionally, temporary workers from these regions may access nonimmigrant visas, facilitating economic growth and cultural exchange between countries of nationality and the United States.

Economic reasons

Economic immigrants travel from one region to the other regions to improve their quality of life.  The most common reason why immigrants leave their home include:

  • Escape from poverty
  • Better employment opportunities
  • Seek a higher wage rate
  • Better educational opportunities
  • A higher standard of living

A positive economic effect has been found in native populations due to immigration. Whereas, low-skilled natives are adversely affected by low-skilled immigration. Many countries have their visa restrictions and immigration restrictions. Hence, the person’s entry to the country to gain work is impossible without a valid visa. Whereas, temporary workers, students, and tourists can remain in the U.S. with non-immigrant visas and student visas. Thousands of foreign nationals work and live lawfully in the U.S. under nonimmigrant visas. U.S. citizens and immigrants have different characteristics, such as low English language ability. Hence, immigrants refuse to work with U.S.-born workers, and they are more likely to work for risky jobs.

Other major reasons for immigration include oppression, religious persecution, political structure, wars, and genocide. No matter the reason, immigration provides new opportunities for immigrants. However, it requires much hard work and sacrifices for a better future.

How the immigration system of the U.S. works

The immigration system of the U.S. is complex and multifaceted, with policies addressing various factors such as immigration rates, natural disasters, and international borders. It considers factors like well-founded fear and moral character, particularly for special immigrants and religious workers. Additionally, the Diversity Visa program aims to promote diversity by granting visas to individuals from countries of origin with historically low immigration rates to North America. However, illegal immigration remains a topic of public debate, prompting judicial review and potential changes in immigration policies to regulate the entry of skilled workers, immigrant children, and those seeking to reunite with their families based on country of birth or citizenship.

The U.S. immigration laws are more complex than those of other countries. The country has a strict immigration policy to handle the legal status of the immigrant population. Various laws have been passed to determine the status of immigrants, including unaccompanied children. The Immigration and Nationality Act governs the current immigration policy.

Hence, the impact of immigration on the economy of the U.S. has been positive. Refugees and immigrants from other countries add trillions of dollars to the U.S. GDP. Despite all these positive impacts, the U.S. has become a more restrictionist policy government. Hence, these policies include increased immigration enforcement, the imposition of fiscal costs, and threats the immigrant communities and community leaders.

Today’s immigrant population in the U.S.

The foreign-born population living in the U.S. is approximately 43.3 million. Of the foreign-born population, 22.6 million are noncitizens, 11.1 million are unauthorized and 13.1 million are permanent residents. In 2015, broken down by immigration status, 26.9% of the foreign-born population was from Mexico. 2.4 million from India and 2.7 million from China. However, females in the foreign-born population are more in number than men. U.S.-born children of immigrants have higher life status than their parents. Hence, immigrants complement the skills of American workers. And the southern border is still a matter of discord.

Impact of Undocumented Immigrants

Unauthorized and undocumented immigrants are increasingly entering the U.S. Legalization of undocumented workers would boost the U.S. economy. Hence, undocumented immigrants generate higher incomes for U.S. firms than their native workers. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research paper of 2018, this has been found. The majority of the unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. are Mexicans among the foreign-born population.

Undocumented immigrants have significant economic, social, and cultural impacts. They contribute to various industries, particularly agriculture, construction, and service sectors, filling labor gaps and often performing low-skilled jobs. Despite facing legal challenges, they pay taxes and consume goods and services, boosting local economies. Socially, they enrich communities with diverse perspectives and cultural traditions. However, their status can strain public resources and create tensions over immigration policy. Nonetheless, studies suggest they play a vital role in sustaining certain industries and contribute positively to the overall economy, highlighting the complexity of their impact on society.

The state of the border and interior enforcement

To deter undocumented immigrants, the U.S. border patrol has made continuous efforts. changes have been made to the asylum procedures, interior enforcement, and border security. Hence, protection of the U.S.-Mexico border has been taken care of in previous years. Border wall and fencing towards the southern border have been built, which is very costly. In Texas, the construction of the border wall remains controversial. Border agents at the U.S.-Mexico border take effective measures and patrol every mile of the southern border. Moreover, border patrol randomly inspects illegal entry through U.S. ports of entry.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The U.S. government has been working on immigration and customs enforcement more than other federal criminal law enforcement agencies. Immigration officers and federal immigration officials take care of all these procedures. The Obama Administration established Secure Communities, a federal immigration enforcement program that identifies immigrants in the U.S. Secure Communities carry out ICE’s enforcement priorities. Moreover, he supported comprehensive immigration reforms.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the Department of Homeland Security, plays a crucial role in enforcing immigration laws, particularly regarding employment-based green cards and nonimmigrant class admissions. ICE’s jurisdiction extends to various areas, including American Samoa, where it monitors the entry of foreign nationals and the adjustment of status for immigrant parents and minor children. Through collaboration with agencies like the U.S. Census Bureau and Citizenship and Immigration Services, ICE ensures compliance with immigration policies and laws, regardless of country of citizenship or habitual residence, intending to maintain security and integrity within the immigration system.

Unaccompanied children in the immigration court system

People have to wait for a year before they can have heard their cases in the immigration courts. It almost takes 673 days. Children with legal representatives have more chances to win their cases.


Refugees in the U.S. come from all over the world. Admission of refugees in the U.S. has been trending upward. Government agencies are critically handling all vulnerable populations. Resettlement agencies have been working all over the country. However, the U.S. refugee admission program aims to settle refugees into American communities and make them economically self-sufficient. The federal government also ensures public benefits, labor protections, and other basic rights for legal residents.

If you still have a query regarding unused visas, public services, or Asylum claims, you can contact an immigration lawyer or check this out. However, if you have advanced degrees or college degrees, you’ll need to get them translated. We are here to get you that annual admission into your favorite university. All you have to do is contact us and share your requirements.

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