The End of the Culture War over Immigration A culture War has erupted in America. The country has become visibly divided over emotionally charged topics such as: abortion, gay marriage, gun-control, and healthcare. Many Americans have chosen sides In a polarize debate which pins conservative traditionalists against liberal progressives over the direction of America’s future. One topic which has not received as much attention as the rest, yet potentially has the largest impact on the common American is that of Immigration.
As of late, the immigration debate has received more traction, due to the Obama Administration’s new reform Act (Commonsense Immigration Reform Act of 2011) as well as the growing number of undocumented immigrants (estimated at 11 million). The Act attempts to satisfy both sides of the debate, which is evident in its new reform policies. When it comes to the immigration question the distinct sides are not as evident and the debate is not as polarize, nonetheless It is just as significant in the American culture war.
One side of the debate desires a strict immigration policy that prohibits mass Immigration (particularly from our southern border), amnesty to illegal, and deportation for those who fall to prove citizenship. For the purpose of this paper we will refer to them as restlessness’s. The other side of the debate wants a relatively unrestrictive Immigration policy that caters to the needs of Illegal immigrants, grants them amnesty, and does administer harsh penalties. We will refer to them as anti-restrictions.
Through the analysis of the Obama Administration’s new reform Act, I will prove that the Act was shaped by the existence of a culture war in American society. And that the policies of the reform cater to both sides of the abate equally in attempt to solve the immigration question and extinguish the immigration argument. On the surface of the immigration debate, it appears it is about those who desire a strict immigration policy against those who want to integrate Illegal immigrants and want a less restrictive policy.
But, like every other culture war related topic when analyzed more closely It Is about much more. There are really three areas of controversy at the heart of the Immigration debate. The first Is the economic debate about whether Immigrants (Including Immigrants In the U. S. Illegally) are a benefit or burden on the country. Second, there are the security and safety arguments about borders and foreigners and protecting the country from crime and terrorism. Finally, there are the cultural concerns about assimilation, integration, race, religion, and especially, the English language (Rivaling 24).
All of the debates and concerns surrounding immigration (and illegal immigration) fall into one or more of these three categories. The cultural arguments are often the most difficult and most important concerns in the hearts of opponents of immigration reform and of legal immigration. They often use arguments related to jobs and the economy or security and crime as more acceptable covers for what they are truly concerned about, which Is the “defenseless of 25).
As mentioned earlier, In the debate over Immigration It becomes difficult to distinguish the divide In America over who supports and opposes Immigration. This Is because It Is not Just simply a argument is much more complex in terms of who is on what side. Those who support an unrestrictive policy are typically made up of younger educated individuals (college students) foreigners, the gay-lesbian community, equal rights activists, and mostly individuals who would fall under the liberal-progressive category.
The other group of people that support immigration is the Catholic community (Brownstone 46). This is because the immigration debate mainly focuses on undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Central, and South American countries who happen to be Catholic. Even though many of these Catholics are typically conservative, they still support immigration hoping the Catholic Church gains more influence with the influx of these immigrants (Brownstone 47).
The fact that conservative Catholics support immigration is one of the large factors that make the immigration debate different from other culture war debates. Those who support a restrictive immigration policy consist of older conservatives who vote for the G. O. P. These individuals have a traditionalist type mentality who ultimately fear that a unrestrictive immigration policy will result in an “identity crises in which will compromise the very fabric of the English language and the security of the English speaking Americans”(Brownstone 48).
Because many undocumented workers are hired to perform lower skilled Jobs and Jobs that involve physical labor, Americans that have unionized professions feel threatened by the low wages these immigrants are willing to accept to perform similar tasks. Feeling that these undocumented workers undermine the American UN ion system, Americans involved in a unionized profession typically support a restrictive immigration policy. These workers mostly fall on the liberal-progressive side of the debate, but because they feel economically threaded by the growing number of undocumented workers they oppose immigration (Brownstone 46).
This further complicates the immigration debate because most of these workers are liberals, but side with a majority that is conservative on the immigration debate (the same way Catholics, who are mostly conservative, side with liberals on immigration policy). The first major area of controversy over immigration is the economic debate. Those who want a less restrictive policy argue that all of the evidence points towards immigrants being an economic boost to the United States and the communities into which they settle.
They believe Immigrants tend to complement the existing domestic workforce, filling in gaps in the workforce where their skills are needed, rather than competing directly with natives for available Jobs. Also, their power as consumers and entrepreneurs provide direct injections of taxable economic activity that benefit everyone. They argue having a less restrictive immigration policy would bring more economic benefits, not because it would bring more immigrants, but because it would allow the immigrants here and coming in the future and their economic contributions to exist above board in the legitimate economy.
Author and expert on the topic of immigration in America, Benjamin Ziegler in his book, Immigration: An American Dilemma argues “As the Center for American Progress has shown, legalizing immigrants here would create a windfall of $1. 5 trillion in taxes and increased GAP'(132). He says, Those who support immigration still desire to eliminate the incentives to hire people off-the-books to skirt labor and wage laws would force employers to act within the law, compete fairly with each other, and reduce the part “legal” and part “illegal. “(Ziegler 134).
He continues explaining legalizing those here and allowing those coming to do so with visas, rights, and legality should resolve those concerns when placed against the alternatives (Ziegler 143). Saying that, “Deporting more than 10 million or more immigrants” would be a huge expense, “$285 billion by my estimate and would remove millions of consumers from the economy'( Ziegler 145). Giggler’s expertise would suggest that a burden is placed on the economy with strict immigration policy and removing these immigrants from America, but that their existence in America places an economic burden.
Those whom support a very restrictive immigration policy argue that it is the existence of these undocumented workers that undermined the system already in place and that the government should not have to cater to illegal immigrants over their own citizens (Brownstone 49). They believe it is not a question of can the system be changed to accommodate the illegal immigrants, but why should the system cater to individuals ho are not citizens despite the immediate economic boost they might provide (Brownstone 51).
Those that support a restrictive immigration policy, oppose giving amnesty to the 11 million illegal immigrants arguing, that the long term consequences far outweigh the initial benefits economically. They argue that the government does not crackdown on illegal immigration and grants citizenship to the 11 million immigrants, it will allow them to bring their families to America. They estimate that the 11 million will manifest into 40 million more immigrants (who are now U.
S citizens or applying for citizenship) by 2030. They claim the economic burden this will present on the government and the American people would be in the trillions (Brooks 7). They argue that many of these immigrants will be uneducated and only able to perform certain Jobs that require low skill thus saturating the market for those types of Jobs resulting in not only millions of Americans becoming unemployed but millions of the immigrants staying unemployed (Brooks 7).
The second major topic of controversy over immigration is that of safety and security. Those who argue for reform that results in a less strictest policy towards illegal immigrants argue, inflows of people illegally across the borders are at the lowest levels in recent history (Rivaling 24). They attest this to the fact that Jobs and economic opportunity that draws many people into the country are no longer abundant.
But, they are concerned that a vast criminal underground continues to operate along the borders to get people in, which is at the heart of need for immigration reform and contributes to border security problem. Anti- restrictions argue the problem of international terrorism and criminal drug cartels all for different and more complicated responses than simply rounding up illegal immigrants and deporting them because their visas have expired (Rivaling 25).
They also believe that crime sweeps by local police to round up undocumented immigrants drive a wedge between immigrants and law enforcement, resulting in unnecessary violence that is completely preventable. These sweeps then result in jails being full with non-violent individuals accused of immigration violations, thus clogging the courts, and hampering legitimate law enforcement. Ann-restrictions continue to argue that registering illegal immigrants in the system, pass through rimming background checks, and legal will alleviate the issue (Rivaling 26).
This would national security. Also, divert most immigrants through controlled ports of entry along the border and at airports, and dampen the black market for human smuggling and false documents that have arisen to fill the gap left between the economic draw of America and the restrictive visa system maintained to regulate it (Rivaling 27). Restrictions support the immigration crackdowns under the Bush administration following 9/1 1 and don’t want the restrictions lifted even if opponents claim the bill is too harsh on immigrants.
They feel the strict changes made in Bush’s immigration reform bill help battle criminals and terrorists keeping America safe. President Bush’s bill called for comprehensive reform that coupled together tougher border enforcement measures and tougher crackdowns on employers of illegal immigrants with a pathway to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants, plus a new guest- worker system and dramatic changes to the system of legal migration (Dobbin 329). Under the Bush Administration post 9/1 1 era, immigration policy would change forever.
The fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center were conducted by liens living on U. S soil brings more controversy to the culture wars. Because one of the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks, recently had his Visa renewed, Bush immediately cracked down on visa violators (Bayle 947). Bush next announced the creation of a new group of officials who would work to find and deport those who had overstayed their visa or were technically here illegally. The Administration decided to then investigate students on visa to make sure they were taking classes and question them (Bayle 954).
Many liberals saw this as a violation of immigrant rights because this was occurring on U. S soil. Restrictions also believe that if border patrol is not increased and if illegal immigrants continue to cross the border illegitimately at current rates that America’s safety and security will be compromised. They fear increases in criminal activity will result from illegal immigrants entering the country illegitimately because there is no way to administer any type of background check (Dobbin).
They believe since the government has no information on these undocumented individuals, the government must take a strict stance on dealing with the illegal immigrants to protect American citizens. The third major topic of controversy in the immigration debate is assimilation, integration and the English language. Anti-restrictions believe immigrants today are assimilating as fast or faster than previous waves of immigrants, whether it be measured by English language skills, rates of home-ownership, inter-marriage outside one’s ethnic group, or other measures (Goldberg 7).
They argue illegal immigrant’s ability to assimilate is exacerbated by laws that prevent immigrants from fully participating in and investing in society (Walsh 26). Anti-restrictions would like to see legal channels sufficient to accommodate young and skilled workers and their families, resulting in them being able to fully integrate themselves into U. S. Society. They believe children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of today’s immigrants will be no more immigrants or less American than everyone else eventually, especially if the government removes unreasonable barriers to legal status and assimilation (Walsh 27).
Anti-restrictions generally believe that immigrants are us; that the shared destinies and shared values of immigrants today, like immigrants of previous generations, is fundamentally intertwined with the destinies and values of all ND incorporate immigrants into society legally, with respect and dignity. Anti- restrictions view The United States as an idea, not blood and that being American is therefore a mindset, not an accident of birth geography ( Rivaling 28). Restriction’s ultimate fear is that people who were born here and whose families have been here for generations will no longer be welcome in their own country (Walsh 29).
They feel that if amnesty is given to 11 million illegal immigrants that English language will be threatened. These people fear they will feel like strangers in their own country. Harvard graduate and expert on the subject of immigration in public schools, Jonathan Zimmerman, writes in his book, Whose America: Culture Wars in the Publics Schools on Immigration, that many schools that have a majority Latino population (schools in states that neighbor Mexico) and many illegal students are catering to their needs over those of the other legal students.
This is one example of what the restrictions argue about the cultural impact of unrestrictive immigration. Restrictions fear that if the illegal immigrations goes unchecked than they will pay the price and their government will not make catering to their needs important anymore (Zimmerman). Both the restrictions and the anti-restrictions agree that reform needs to be made with the Obama administrations new immigration act, whether the government should crackdown or accommodate illegal immigrants. There are many employers that are using the immigration system to their advantage by hiring undocumented workers.
This is not only bad for the legal citizens who is being deprived of work , but also for the illegal immigrant who is being improperly paid and mostly engaging in hazardous work (without any form healthcare if something were to occur). There are approximately 11 million undocumented workers in America as of today and neither is beneficial for the economy or the country. Beam’s reform Act attempts to put both responsibility on both the employer and the undocumented worker by issuing provisions that fix the immigration system and satisfy individuals on both sides of the debate.
The Obama Administrations Commonsense Immigration Reform Act of 2011 has four distinct parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.
The CIRCA strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry, facilitates public-private agreements designated to increase investment in foreign visitor dispensation, and continues supporting the use of technologies that assist in securing the land and maritime borders of the United States (Abnegating 4). The Obama Administration’s Act creates new criminal penalties dedicated to ambition transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and that smuggle undocumented immigrants across the borders Williams 324).
It also increases the Jurisdiction of current law to permit the penalty of these organizations’ criminal tools and proceeds. These specific reforms allow the United States to combat criminal enterprises from across the border. These new reforms anti-restrictions’ concerns because the government will be using its resources efficiently to combat drug cartel and criminal illegal, not those who do not pose a threat to American security. The new bill will expand the United States ability to collaborate with law enforcement of countries we share a border with.
The U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DASH) will establish border community liaisons along the Southern and Northern borders to improve communication and collaboration with border communities, boost funding to tribal government partners to reduce illegal activity on tribal lands, and strengthen training on civil rights and civil liberties for DASH immigration officers. The Obama Administration chose to include this because many anti-restrictions complain about DASH officers striating illegal immigrants (McDonald 10).
To satisfy their demands a clause was included which educates the officers about the civil rights and liberties of the illegal immigrants. The CIRCA increases the number of immigration Judges and their staff, investing in training for court personnel, and improves access to legal information for immigrants. The Act permits DASH to better focus its detention resources on public safety and national security threats by expanding alternatives to detention and reducing overall detention costs.
It also provides greater protections for those least able to represent themselves. This again satisfies both parties in the debate because it is building reforms that were initially introduces during the Bush administration, but gives illegal immigrants the right to a fair trial and representation. The big change here is that alternatives to detention are being introduced which anti- receptionists were fighting for, but at the same time still creates a fair process that makes sure the immigrant is not a threat to the security of the country.
The reforms provide tools for employers to ensure a legal workforce by using federal government databases to verify that the people they hire are eligible to work in the United States (Abnegating 6). Penalties for hiring undocumented workers are significantly increased, and new penalties are established for committing fraud and identity theft. The new mandatory program ensures the privacy and confidentiality of all workers’ personal information and includes important procedural protections (Abnegating 6). Mandatory electronic employment verification would be phased in over five years with exemptions for certain small businesses.
The Act also mandates a fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant Social Security card and requires workers to use read-and tamper-resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States (Abnegating 7). The CIRCA protects workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights. It increases the penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers to undermine the workplace standards that protect all workers. And it creates a “labor law enforcement fund” to help ensure that industries that employ significant numbers of immigrant workers comply with labor laws (Williams 334).
The reforms in this part of the bill will solve the problem of business hiring and exploiting undocumented workers, which of great concern to both sides of the debate. The anti- restrictions will be pleased about the severe penalties administered for hiring undocumented workers and the new labor laws that protect the workers from being exploited. The restrictions will be pleased that a strong system of verification is in place and that business are still protected from fraud and identity theft from the business which what each side desired in the debate.
In the Act, undocumented immigrants must come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass criminal aground and national security checks, and pay fees and penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status (McDonald 8). Agricultural workers and those who entered the United States as children would be eligible for the same program. Individuals must wait until the existing legal immigration backlogs are cleared before getting in line to apply for lawful permanent residency (“green card”), and ultimately United States citizenship.
Consistent with current law, people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or ax credits under the new health care law. Immigrants applying for green cards must pay their taxes, pass additional criminal background and national security checks, and learn English and U. S. Civics (McDonald 11). As under current law, five years after receiving a green card, individuals will be eligible to apply for U. S. Citizenship like every other legal permanent resident.
Children brought here illegally will become eligible for citizenship. By going to college or serving honorably in the Armed Forces for at least two years, these children will be given an expedited opportunity to earn heir citizenship McDonald 12). The part of the bill address issues the restrictions had with assimilation very thoroughly. Restrictions will be satisfied that immigrants have to go through an arduous process to gain citizenship that ensures they are not a threat to security.
They will also be thrilled that immigrants with provisional status cannot seek benefits and that before they become a citizen they must learn English. Anti-restrictions will be pleased to see that children brought here illegally will be able to apply for citizenship and that overall the bill allows illegal immigrants to anally become citizens and integrate properly. The CIRCA seeks to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers.
The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from 7 percent to 1 5 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system. It also treats same-sex families as families by giving U. S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner (Williams 326). The bill also encourages foreign radiate students educated in the United States to stay here and contribute to our economy by including a green card in the diplomas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (McDonald 12).
Anti-restrictions will be pleased that same sex couples will be treated equally for citizenship and that annual visa numbers will increase allowing more immigrants to stay in the country. The restrictions will be pleased that green cards will be administered for immigrants who seek an education resulting in them being able to contribute to the economy. The CIRCA allows foreign entrepreneurs who attract financing from U. S. Investors or revenue from U. S. Customers to start and grow their businesses in the United States, and to remain permanently if their companies grow further, create Jobs for American workers, and strengthen our economy (Abnegating 7). The reform Act permanently authorizes immigrant visa opportunities for regional center (pooled investment) programs and provides incentives for visa requesters to invest in programs that support national priorities. These include economic development in rural and national security threats including data collection on economic impact and a pilot aerogram for state and local government officials to promote economic development (Abnegating 6).
The CIRCA creates a new visa category for a limited number of highly- skilled and specialized immigrants to work in federal science and technology laboratories on critical national security needs after being in the United States, for two years and passing rigorous national security and criminal background checks (Williams 341). The reform Act streamlines immigration law to better protect vulnerable immigrants, including those who are victims of crime and domestic violence. It also better protects those fleeing persecution by eliminating the existing imitations that prevent qualified individuals from applying for asylum (Williams 339).
The anti-restrictions will be pleased that immigrants who are vulnerable will be protected and that no one is being left behind in the bill. The restrictions will be satisfied that a new visa category will be created for immigrants to help protect the country by working on national security needs and that an extensive background check will be administered beforehand. Beam’s new immigration reform bill satisfies both the demands of the irrationalities and the anti-irrationalities. The ill still takes a hard stance on immigration while still catering to the needs of illegal immigrants while treating them respectfully.
There are many requirements and procedures in the bill that ensure the immigrant being granted citizenship is not a threat to the security of the nation. These procedures also ensure that the immigrant is being treated properly and that business will no longer be able to hire undocumented workers, which ameliorates much of the controversy in the debate. With the passing of this bill, we will see attention on the immigration debate begin to wane and other culture war topics becoming more prevalent.