The answer to this question lies in the history of this country, because the history of the United States is deeply related to immigration. For many years, the United States opened its doors to welcome those seeking political and religious freedom as well as the “adventurer, the wanderer, the persecuted, the fortune seekers, and others.” Immigrants built up the United States from the very beginning. This country was, and continues to be a kaleidoscope of ethnic and cultural groups.
One common belief is that wanderers from Northeast Asia originally peopled America about 20,000 years ago. These wanderers were believed by some to be the founding population (and ancestors) of today’s Native Americans.
Around the year 1500, the great European migration began. All of them came full of hopes and dreams of the “Promised Land.” Many settlers from Europe and Asia came to seek their fortune in a new country which was thought to have unlimited resources. Many people from Africa and the Caribbean, however, were brought forcibly to America to work as forced laborers in the building of a new nation.
Europeans were the immigrants back then, but they did not behave like today’s immigrants do. Instead, they executed, isolated, and attacked Native Americans. Although Native Americans could not fight back with guns, they did what they could to defend themselves.
There is always a touch of irony when a citizen of the United States complains about immigration. Except for those of pure Native American origin, every one in this country is of immigrant descent. The United States gained its territory largely through the dishonest and violent removal of the indigenous population. Yet, somehow Americans maintain the idea that this land is theirs alone and that it is not only harmful but also immoral for other people to enter it.
But, why do people from all over the world want to come to the US?
Immigrants chose to come for various reasons, such as to live in freedom, to practice their religion freely, to escape poverty or oppression, and to make better lives for themselves and their children.
Some people already have members of their family residing in this country, and desire reunification. Through family-sponsored immigration, a U.S. citizen can sponsor his or her foreign-born spouse, parent, minor, and adult married and unmarried children, and brothers and sisters.
Some immigrants come to the U.S. because of employment opportunities. Through employment-based immigration, a U.S. employer can sponsor an individual for a specific position where there is a demonstrated absence of U.S. workers.
But the real reason is prosperity. For decades, economic growth has easily surpassed population growth, giving the U.S., and much of the rest of the world, both more people and more prosperity. Simply put, the desire for a better life somewhere other than the current residence. And this country offers that better life they wish for.
After they get here, immigrants start contributing to the economy of this country. They wear many hats in American society. They are family members, students, workers, business owners, investors, clergymen, and members of the armed services, to name just a few of their roles. Actually, according to a very recent study found that in all their combined roles, immigrants make indispensable contributions to the economy. They compose an increasingly essential proportion of the workforce.
The study also found that immigrants are a Plus for the Economy. Immigrants and their children bring long-term economic benefits to the United States as a whole. Immigrants add about $10 billion each year to the U.S. economy.
If the media disseminated positive information about immigrants, Americans would have very different perceptions of immigrants. American citizens believe that the poverty of developing nations is solely of their own making, that way they find it easier to justify keeping them out of this country.
The only way to stop this irony is spreading correct facts about these issues. This will be the first step in working towards a more fair immigration policy. Hopefully, a greater dissemination of knowledge and deeper ethical meditation will spur to adopt a healthier attitude towards immigrants in the future.
So, next time you read or hear any negative information about immigrants, ask them if those born outside of this borders are somehow not deserving of aid and justice. Ask them, also, if their grandparents or great-grandparents received that kind of treatment when they arrived to this country, because they were immigrants too.