Xenophobia and Immigration

Many things in this world are beyond my comprehension, especially the convoluted conundrums. Starting with what has oil companies got to do with the overall economics of the world, how do Swiss banks run and why do they enjoy such autonomy in the banking industry, what makes up religion and why does it bring faith to majority of the population on this planet, what is the source of the source etc. Some questions are clearly un-unravelable but the others could be explored with time, money and energy.

Media or social networking sites continue to be my primary source of information - 1) they are free and vastly available; and 2) they are updated at frequent intervals. With my limited (or much wider?!) exposure, I can sense that there is something not right with the world right now. To be utterly honest, I haven't heard of "xenophobia" until 2016. And now that has, unfortunately, become the word of the hour. Without any great soothsaying skills, it could be stated that the year 2020 would be an altogether different world to live in.

It all started with Brexit or Bremain in 2016. And I have experienced it at first hand sitting in London. Last one week to the referendum had been full of debates and discussions at workplace and elsewhere. Exit polls on the 23rd June 2016 predicted that it was going to be a Bremain based on a sample survey. I still remember waking up to the news around 5am and realising that how could it have been Brexit! From thereon, a trend had been set to revisit anything and everything about immigration.

Immigration had been a major propaganda for Mr. Trump and aided him to enthrone the chair of state finally, on a very dramatic note (of course)!

The U.S. have been one of the first countries, in spite of being sufficiently populous unlike Canada or Australia, to welcome immigrants for its own development. They have always been extremely aggressive with a thirst for burgeoning growth ever since their freedom. Thinking out of the box came to them naturally and hence started immigration. Globalisation and brain drain peaked in 2000s for the Indians as immigrants to the U.S. Especially in Andhra Pradesh, I have seen a huge influx of students doing bachelors in India and then going to the U.S. to do their Masters followed by settling in the country. This was because of two reasons: 1) the U.S. provided better growth opportunities; and 2) too much competition in India for anything and everything.

Coming back to immigration in the U.S., I have done a rough secondary research and was able to come up with the following key facts and figures (from multiple sources):

v There were 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2012 accounting for nearly 3.5% of its population
v Mexicans made up of nearly 52% of all unauthorised immigrants in 2012
v Undocumented immigrants are often part of the same family as documented immigrants
v As per LA Times in 2011, illegal immigrants in 2010 were parents of 5.5 million children, 4.5 million of whom were born in the U.S. and are citizens
v If the undocumented immigrants gained legal status, they would provide significant contribution to Social Security over the coming years
v By 2012, immigrants made up nearly 13.0% of the total U.S. population
v In 2015, of the total lawful permanent residences granted in the US, 15.6% was for Mexicans
v Immigrants, even legal immigrants, are barred from most social services although they contribute to support the benefits

Of late, there has been severe scrutiny on immigration – thanks to Brexit and Trump again. To eliminate a few questions around increase in unemployment rate, immigration in absolute sense would result in the following:

v Immigrants create jobs as consumers and entrepreneurs
v As per data from 2011 American community survey, there is no direct correlation between immigration and unemployment
v As per 2012 current population survey, foreign-born and native-born workers don’t generally compete for the same jobs

On refugees intake, in the year ending Sep 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees have been admitted to the U.S. With United Nations head-quartered in New York, America has been considerably reasonable when it came to refugees’ intake. There are pros and cons to having refugees in a country. I will list down the top ones:

v For the world, its positive as people are trying to get away from desperate situations and trying to survive
v Increase in liquidity in the labour market
v Further contribution to the society through their wages and hence increase in economic growth

v Imbalance between taxes paid vs social services received
v Potential threat from organised crimes

Coming to the point of crimes in the U.S., which we can’t rule out especially where illegal immigrant population is in volumes, it is largely said that determination of correlation between crime and legal status of immigrants is not easy. Having said that there are evidences and proofs depicting the crimes committed by the immigrants. Factors such as racial profiling, possible discrimination, unfavourable circumstances to foreigners etc. could potentially lead to the crimes.

The article here narrates why immigrants in the U.S. are not the sole reason for crimes in the U.S. As per the article, incarceration rate for U.S. born is 3.51% of the total population and it is 0.86% for foreign born.

According to huffingtonpost, which talks about Immigration Act of 1924 and Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, when Ronald Reagan (President of the U.S. 1981 to 1989) faced the immigration issue, he understood that the problem is not with foreigners coming here illegally, but with the government having too much of a hand in the immigration process resulting in bureaucratic complications. Realising that illegal immigration resulted from previous errors in immigration policy, Reagan gave amnesty to most illegal immigrants. As this created uproar among opponents of immigration, Reagan promised to penalise American employers hiring undocumented immigrants – which till date hasn’t been clearly implemented.

A really long story short, immigration, like any other enforcement in general, has plusses and minuses. When in Business, you are playing with your own profits and losses but when you are in Politics, you are risking with the lives of the people. It is a finely threaded net and one false step might result into an uncontrollable uproar.

“America first” – Great, Bravo and Cheers to the President! But doesn’t mean that the rest of the world is suddenly invisible. People exist and their values too which can’t be thrown away like plush toys. Make amends with a mind-set of greater good rather than with a business angle to get quick results. It is not just the immigrants the U.S. would be alienating but also the whole world in a way. Also to think of it, America is what it is because of these very immigrants... never forget that! 

Remember, always remember, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
-        Franklin D. Roosevelt



khushi said...

You have done a hell lot of research lady before writing this post! Have u ever tried to write columns for any magazine/newspaper ? Just a thought !
Phew! Well I could not understand much of it given the tiny intellect that I have, and almost no knowledge at all in this field ( its so embarrassing to write this) ; but yeah all I want to know is what are my chances to get visa for US or May be for UK this year ? ��

neena said...


Manish said...

Really well researched and succinctly written. I do not agree with blanket bans or selective, discriminating treatments too. However I do sense the desire not just the US of A but at other places too UK, India, Aus to try to boost their own resource usage. That's a fair and well justified thought but it shouldn't be at the expense of harassment or forced switch to a system which is not part of the country's DNA. With so much globalization and fragile borders, it becomes hazy to define who really belongs where, who feels belonged where and who is the victim.

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