The Immigration Paradox

In this country, we have had a past of anti-immigration movements, and as we all know, it is a moving phenomena. Our stance on immigration tends to shift according to our economy and our political standing, but it doesn’t seem to have been in favor of immigrants for many years. We have had the Chinese Exclusion Act, the National Origins Act, the Hart-Cellar Act, and other immigration reforms that have shifted the way that we have worked against or maybe slightly towards immigrants. Still, there are many who are against immigration in the sense that they think their jobs will be taken away from them which is completely ridiculous. Immigrants only ever take the jobs that Americans don’t want because it is too demeaning or too physically demanding. We don’t want to work as a busboy at the back of a diner or be cleaning the bathrooms at a restaurant, so those are the jobs that immigrants take because they need the only and they are in so situation to complain. While many immigrants come to the states legally (as shown in the graph below), they overstay their allotted time, and from them on become ‘illegal’ immigrants ( or a better term would be undocumented immigrants because how is someone illegal? Actions are illegal, not people themselves ). There are many reasons why they would be unable to redo their paperwork, as time is unlimited, or maybe they have been working to get their paperwork done, but have been scammed. A close friend of mine had come into this country when she was very young, and her family had been scammed twice while trying to apply for a green card. Things like this make it difficult for the families to become documented immigrants, as our immigration policies have become so strict that it is almost impossible for immigrants to become citizens unless they have a certain family connection or they work in a company where they would apply for a green card in your name, which is widely untrue since most immigrants work at jobs with little to no benefits. So even while we have been against immigration, we also have a need for their labor. As Kwong states in “What’s Wrong with the US Immigration Debate?” there is a need for immigration labor, as it becomes cheaper to get what we need done. While we are against immigration in the fear that they may take jobs away, we also keep them here to work for us as cheap labor, because Americans are always about bettering themselves and letting others do the dirty work for us.

Assignment 4-8, Immigration Policy, ,


  1. I agree with your point that the idea of immigrants taking other Americans jobs is ridiculous and that immigrants take jobs that Americans don’t usually want. I think that applies to both legal and illegal immigrants because if an immigrant is illegal they will do any job for the lowest wage and even legal immigrants have to settle for any job because they often face discrimination when searching for jobs. I think the only jobs they’d be taking from people would be the Americans that don’t have high school or college degrees, or with their GED or those who were recently released from prison. But even so, immigrants help our economy and by helping our economy, they’re also helping to create more job opportunities. I also agree that it’s hard for immigrants to redo their paperwork, whatever their reason may be. It becomes hard for legal immigrants to redo their paperwork because sometimes they don’t have the money or the time (with a lot of work hours and no one to watch their children), and so I think that the government should make more of an effort to help immigrants instead of just finding them and kicking them out. It shouldn’t be so hard to enter or remain in our country because America is supposed to be the land of opportunity and freedom, yet we make it so hard to reach those opportunities and obtain freedom.

  2. I somewhat agree with the points made in here but where I disagree is that we as americans should be welcoming all immigrants with open arms because they do the jobs we americans supposedly don’t want to do. I agree to a point that we need immigrants in this country because they perform demeaning manual labor jobs that many americans don’t want to do but there comes a point when it becomes too much. I don’t think we need immigrants for many other reasons, but they continue to come to the United States and eventually we’re going to find ourselves in somewhat of a crisis because of not knowing what to do with so many new immigrant workers. My point is simply that there’s only so many gardeners and jobs of that nature that can be hired. We don’t need 500,000 immigrant gardeners each year, and when the day comes that we can’t hire any more gardeners or off the books jobs that many immigrants have, the country will be looking at a serious rise in unemployment as if we didn’t have enough issues with adding jobs already.

  3. Good points on all sides. Adam, I see your point, but what always gets me is the implications of our country in influencing immigration fluxes and flows. It begs the question, what responsibility does our country/government have to these people?

    Also, I want to highlight So Ra’s point, ” or a better term [than ‘illegal immigrant’] would be undocumented immigrants because how is someone illegal? Actions are illegal, not people themselves”.
    There is some interesting writing to that point. Here’s a place to start:

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