The United States is a nation of immigrants and their descendants, as the Statue of Liberty reminds us: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Today’s immigrants are often far from tired and poor, and don’t necessarily seek legal status in the U.S. because they lack opportunities in their home country. In many cases, the U.S simply offers them a different, possibly better, set of options for themselves and their family. Some of the reasons people immigrate to the U.S. include:
>Refugee status: They are escaping poverty and/or oppression in their home country.
>Education: They want to increase their knowledge in American colleges and universities.
>Investment: They want to take advantage of business opportunities that are mutually beneficial to them and the U.S.
Who is immigrating to the U.S.?
Just as the reasons behind why people are immigrating to the U.S. have changed, so too has who is immigrating to the U.S.
For many years, the U.S. saw more immigrants from Mexico than from any other country, which has caused widespread debates in U.S. politics. However, since 2005. the number of immigrants from Mexico has decreased by nearly two-thirds. By contrast, the number of immigrants from China and India has been on the rise.
In 2013, the highest number of immigrants came from China at a number of 147,000. The second highest number came from India at a number of 129,000, with Mexico coming in third at a number of 125,000.
Reasons behind a decrease in immigrants from Mexico
Traditionally, most immigrants from Mexico have come to the U.S. to seek refuge and job opportunities.
In fact, many agricultural and service industry companies sought out both documented and undocumented immigrants to fill jobs. Most of these jobs are low-paying and beneath many Americans’ standards for a job, but are an improvement to what an immigrant can find in Mexico.
However, since its peak in 2005 (with 369,000 immigrants), immigration from Mexico has continued to significantly drop to the 125,000-number mentioned earlier.
Part of the reason for this drop are fewer opportunities for immigrants than in the past due to economic troubles in the U.S. that has made fewer jobs available for low-wage service workers.
The U.S. government has also tightened its border security and become more diligent in deporting undocumented immigrants who come from Mexico.
In recent years, Mexico itself has also become more attractive to its native population. Their economy has improved, as well as their education system, and there are increasingly more job opportunities there.
The combination of the risks and the increased benefits of remaining in Mexico has led many to feel it is not worth making the journey north.
Reasons behind the increase in immigrants from China and India
The increase in immigrants from China and India has many roots.
Firstly, China and India have a combined population of over 2.7 billion people. As such, both wealthy and impoverished people in these countries look to the U.S. for somewhere else to go and a place to improve their options.
Secondly, in recent decades, the U.S. has changed its immigration system in a way that has caused benefits to those from China and Indian who wish to immigrate. Between 1921 and 1965, the U.S. placed strict quotas on how many immigrants could come from individual countries. However, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 did away with those quotas, which has led overtime to an increase in immigrants from places like China and India.
Thirdly, China has also made changes to its political system, including removing travel restrictions in the 1980s and having more relaxed diplomatic relations with the U.S. since 1979.
Finally, there has been an increase in business, investment, and education immigration, with a larger number of immigrants coming to the U.S. on student or investor visas.
For example, 70% of H-1B visas (non-immigrant work visas) for specialty occupations such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers are granted to Indian nationals. A further 30% of L-1A and L-1B visas for executives, intracompany managers, and employees with special knowledge in a field are granted to Indian nationals.
With respect to China, immigrants from that country represent over a third of all those seeking legal permanent residency, as well as those seeking asylum.
As you can see, there have been many changes who is immigrating to the U.S. and why over the last several years, just as there will be more to come in the future.
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Disclaimer: Nothing in relation to the enclosed information should be construed and or considered as legal advice for any individual, entity, case, or situation. The following information is prepared for advertisement use only. The information is intended ONLY to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice on your specific situation, we encourage you to consult an attorney experienced in the area of Immigration Law.