15.01.2016 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Immigration Aspects of US Policy

45345345Taking into account the significant intensification of migration processes over the last years, immigration policy has become one of the most debated issues in election campaigns (especially presidential) not only in Europe, but also in the United States. Different parties make use of it in the struggle for the votes.

In the presidential election campaign of 2012, the US immigration policy was probably one of the main topics, numerous polls and research into its value for the country’s budget were conducted, in particular, studies regarding the problem of immigrants’ integration into the American society. A point of significant benefits for the USA due to easing of the immigration policy was used by Barack Obama in his election campaign; it was based on the research by the Center for American Progress, which implied that the immigrants were the country’s future, and they could rescue the US economy in the coming years. “We must be very attentive to the social and economic success of immigrants, as we will largely depend on their human resources in the coming decades. Retirement of generation of baby-boomers will ensure an important air flow to the labour market, in both private and public sectors. Reduction of the working-age population will open more possibilities for the influx of new workers. Moreover, the continuous influx of immigrants is very much needed to support the growth of the US economy and ensure the solvency of the social security system,” said the study of the Center for American Progress.

As for the issue of assimilation of immigrants, American politicians, referring to the study of the Centre, noted that in case of continued thoughtful immigration policy, 70% of immigrants will speak English “good” or “very good,” as compared with 57.5% in 2000. About 72% will own their own home, with only 25.5% in 2000. This, in its turn, will contribute to the development of the real estate market and become one of the main reasons for prices reduction and sales increase. By 2030, as some current US politics promise during the new presidential election campaign, the percentage of immigrants living in poverty will fall down to 13.4%, against 23% in 2000. And the Latin American minorities will be the first to take advantage of this integration process. 82% of immigrants will live above the poverty line in 20 years, and 57% of them will be naturalized, i.e. it will be an almost 73% increase as compared with 2000.

The benefits of the American immigration policy were also highlighted by the well-known American journalist from the publishing house The Economist Robert Guest in his book “Borderless Economics”. He notes in particular that “immigrants are characterized by very strong ties with each other and with their compatriots back home. The United States are interested in the growth of the influx of qualified personnel from a number of countries, particularly from India and China, to use the immigrants’ connections from these countries for the development of the US economy and science.”

At the same time, constituting a significant reserve of cheap labour, immigrants contribute to the growth of the domestic corruption, primarily related to the underestimation of their wages by individual employers, with unfair participation of some representatives of the government agencies and law enforcement services in the monitoring and control of such employers activities.

According to the published US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) report, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are deported annually from the United States. In particular, more than 1 million illegal immigrants were deported during the first presidential term of Barack Obama from January 2009 to the end of 2011, whereas about 55% of them were involved in criminal offences in the United States, including murders, sexual abuse, drug dealing.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the fight against illegal immigration in 2015 cost to the national treasury of the United States more than $ 100 billion, and the share of annual taxes for these purposes is estimated approximately $ 1,000 per American per year. It is also well known that illegal immigrants mostly work in the shadow economy and do not pay taxes to the state treasury.

Therefore, 71% of Americans opt for tougher punishment of employers hiring illegal immigrants, not only with fines, but imprisonment. 80% of Americans are opposed to granting any welfare to illegal immigrants.

Whatever the case, it is clear that the United States rely on profitable and legal immigration. Since 1990, they have strengthened the financial logic of immigration in a form of the EB-5 act. According to this law, a foreigner may acquire the right to be legally present in the United States, if he/she invests $ 1 million to create an enterprise with ten full-time jobs. If the company fails within the first two years, the investor will be deprived of the “green card.” However, as The Economist highlights, the financial and economic crisis of the last period forced to soften the application of the provisions of this law, since Obama’s administration believes that foreign investment is an important means to refund the bonds of the government.

However, official Washington, while referring to the US as the country of immigrants and a “champion of human rights” and also in spite of the declared encouragement of the migration policy has been conducting a very aggressive policy on the admission of refugees fleeing from the chaos, inflicted by the United States in the Middle East and North Africa. In this regard, it can be very interesting to learn that since October 2014 the US has accepted only 1.8 thousand refugees. In October 2015, only 187 people were accepted. So it is very unlikely that even the few thousand victims of the US aggression in the East will be able to obtain a residence permit in the United States in the coming years.

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.