Politicizing Immigration Issue in the United States


Despite the fact that a few voters outside California state made the decision of casting their congressional and presidential votes based on their candidate’s position regarding the immigration issue and policy, immigration has remained to be a controversial topic for both the Senate and House in the United State’s Capitol Hill (Egendorf, 2016). Based on rough approximation, the number of immigrants has totaled to about twelve million in the United States.  Most political arguments have the notion that undocumented immigration leads to a drain on national resources (theguidian.com, 2018). However,  such an assumption flies in the face of experience, and ideally challenge many scholarships regarding the issue of immigration. Unless benefits and costs are calculated in an economistic manner, communities benefit from either documented or undocumented immigration (theguidian.com, 2018).

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Analyzing Current U.S Politics on the Issue of Immigration

Historical Background

Immigration policy was highly regarded as a consensus issue before 1979 in the United States. Democrats and Republicans held the belief that the host country did not face complex challenges, which could not be solved if an open door policy was developed. On an occasional basis, objections towards immigrant admissions were voiced according to Cold War politics, which held the belief that particular immigrants could lack commitment to democratic values or be Communists (Squire, 2017). However, such concerns aired by Cold War politics failed to mobilize a broad front aimed against immigrant admissions. Most immigrant bills were passed by members of Congress with bipartisan support and on voice votes, which signaled contention’s absence. Recorded votes regarding immigration policy were often uncommon in the United States even after the introduction of the electronic voting system (Squire, 2017).

Current Immigration issues

One apparent touchstone for current or future debate concerning Immigration reform in the United States is terrorism (theguidian.com, 2018).  In Homeland Security era, there is a widespread perception or awareness that foreign terrorists exploited United State’s porous borders for the purpose of launching attacks in 2001 in the country (theguidian.com, 2018).  In light of this observation, United States circled its bandwagons: improving and enhancing its monitoring system regarding various international borders as well as hermetically sealing off most global nations.  Therefore, political debates within the United States legislators has centered primarily on imminent threat towards the country’s security (theguidian.com, 2018).

Democrats have created the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a new resettlement bureaucracy specifically in the Department of Welfare, Health and Education (Green & Lin, 2002). This action brought into view a strong element of redistribution at federal levels into the debate of immigration. As a result, Republicans were placed in the position of opposing mass immigration due to the reason that it imposed heavy costs in the form of public aid and welfare (Walker, 2014). A couple of review regarding past debates of the floor and committee in the 1980s reveal that utilization of public assistance generated a significant opposition as far as the open-door policy was concerned fifteen years previous to the original rumblings of Proposition 187 (Green & Lin, 2002).

As refugees and immigrants have increasingly come to depend on programs of redistribution, the lack of advancement or progress experienced by new immigrants in United State’s postindustrial economy has brought about a prominent political split between Democrats and Republicans on immigration matters that had not existed in the past (Walker, 2014). Presently, the issue of costs brought about by immigration and immigrants has penetratingly divided United States political parties. Naturally, public aid programs appear to be attractive and promising to many immigrants and refugees who arrive in the United States with few skills and in poverty (Walker, 2014). More importantly, it is worth to note that the society has also changed considerably even when immigrants are arriving in America’s shores unskilled and penniless and unskilled.

One of the most significant immigration issue, which is currently under consideration by the United States Congress is the mounting influence regarding Latino population in the new immigration policy (theguidian.com, 2018). Typically, Hispanics make up the largest group in the minority populations within the United States population and they are continually growing. In fact, since 2000 Hispanics accounted for more than half of general population growth in the United States (theguidian.com, 2018).

Today’s expansion of the welfare state, changing the economy, shifting immigrant population as well s the considerable growth as far as the number of immigrants is concerned to have all contributed towards the collapse of congressional accord concerning the issue of immigration policy (Vargas, 2012). As a result, members of the public have observed that there is more probability for members of Congress to make demands on recorded votes on policies of immigration, which is an indication that they have increasingly turned out to be controversial and divisive.


More importantly, following the 1965 decision made by the Congress to engage in the process of reforming the immigration system, votes that were favoring the process of reform were overwhelming. In fact, there was little debate, which was made within the Senate and House floors. In the past three decades, the immigration policy has increasingly grown to be more divisive as a result of changes in the welfare state, the economy as well as the immigrant population. Today, immigration is talked about as a matter of cost and redistribution, while in the previous decades it was discussed as a matter of humanitarianism.



Egendorf, L. K. (2016). Immigration. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.

Green, N. W., & Lin, A. C. (2002). Immigration. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Squire, V. (2017). The contested politics of mobility: Borderzones and irregularity.

Vargas C. (2012). Politicizing the DREAM Act and Immigration. Retrieved from> https://www.huffingtonpost.com/cesar-vargas/immigration-politics_b_1659295.html. Date Accessed. May 13, 2018

Walker, S. (2014). Presidents and civil liberties from Wilson to Obama: A story of poor custodians.

theguidian.com. (2018). United States Immigration. Retrieved from> https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/usimmigration. Access Date. May 13, 2018

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