The Immigration protocol is a debatable but unusual disputed problem in the United States political system.
Politicians Most of the time do not have a well-rounded approach to immigration, and infrequently does an office holder candidate make immigration policy a crucial part of his political platform. Nonetheless, the problem is very alienating and choices regarding immigration will have a broad impact on the future of the United States. The discussions about Immigration usually provoke strong reactions due to ethnicity and nationality problems involved. Regularly, those looking to migrate to the United States belong to a racial or ethnic group. Therefore, perspectives against immigration are usually related to racism and nativism. It can be risky for a politician or other office holder to speak out too heavily against immigration. Even if his objection is established on social concerns, and not a race, nationality or ethnicity, he can be under strong judgment by minority groups.
This reaction is partially due to the matter that previous attempts to restrain immigration were established on racism and nativism. Previous candidates that were against immigration, especially in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, often argued the inferiority of immigrants. Postures against immigration often provoke thoughts about previous nativist movements, such as the Know-Nothing Party. In this essay, I will take a look at different perspectives in regards to immigration, beginning with Singer. Then, I will provide my reasoning on the issue and the policy I feel the U.S. government should adopt.
Singer believes that all advances nations have a moral commitment to welcome more refugees. He bases this perspective on his utilitarian theory. Since refugees have a high amusement in immigrating to an advanced country, often a life or death amusement, Singer believes immigration should be permitted until the problem to the host nation is comparable to the prosperity to the immigrants. The United Nations defines a refugee as a “person who is outside the country of his nationality because of a well-founded fear of persecution by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion, and is unwilling or unable to avail himself of the protection of his own government.
” (Singer, p.250) Singer dismisses this definition and believes that those who migrate for monetary reasons should seem refugees as well. Therefore, Singer believes advanced nations have a commitment to welcome any immigrant who goes away from his nation due to poor conditions: political, monetary, or otherwise. He also discusses that refugees make the most outstanding immigrants. This is because refugees cannot go back to their countries and must completely commit themselves to their new home. In conclusion, Singer believes advanced nations such as the United States have a moral commitment to take in many more refugees than they presently do. He states that “there is no objective evidence to show that doubling their refugee intake would cause them any harm whatsoever.
” (Singer, p. 262)Garrett Hardin takes the other perspective. In his paper Living on a Lifeboat, he applies the metaphor of a lifeboat to describe rich and poor nations. Basically, every nation can be thought of as a separate lifeboat, and this analogy can be very useful in examining immigration policy.
Hardin begins by pointing out that roughly two-thirds of the world is desperately poor, while only one-third is comparatively rich. The poor countries have an average GNP (Gross National Product) of about $200 per year; the rich nations, of about $3000. Furthermore, the wealthy nations double in population about every eighty-seven years; the poor nations, with a much higher reproduction rate, double about every thirty-five years. Hardin argues “Metaphorically, each rich nation amounts to a lifeboat full of comparatively rich people. The poor of the world are in other, much more crowded lifeboats. Continuously, so to speak, the poor fall out of their lifeboats and swim for a while in the water outside, hoping to be admitted to a rich lifeboat, or in some other way to benefit from the ‘goodies’ on board.
What should the passengers on a rich lifeboat do? This is the central problem of ‘the ethics of a lifeboat.'” (Hardin, p. 247) The first thing that must be acknowledged about each lifeboat is its limited capacity. The land and resources of every nation have a limited carrying capacity. If the U.
S. were to allow everyone into its lifeboat, the boat would be swamped and everyone would drown. As Hardin puts it, “Complete justice, complete catastrophe.” (Hardin, p. 247) Some people feel guilty about their good luck in living in a rich nation. The response is simple: “Get out and yield your place to others.
” (Hardin, p. 247) Next, one must consider the concept of the tragedy of the commons. Simply put, the sharing of resources leads to complete ruin for all.
Hardin uses the example of a pasture. A farmer who owns a pasture will allow no more cattle in it than its carrying capacity can support. If he overloads the pasture, it will be ruined.
If a pasture is operated as a commons, all herdsmen will put as many cattle as they can into it, eventually ruining the pasture. If individual herdsmen refrain from overloading the commons, they will suffer more than the selfish ones who take advantage of it. A system of the commons will never work unless everyone acts unselfishly. While this may be the ideal, it will never actually occur in the world. According to Hardin, “Christian-Marxian idealism is counterproductive. That it sounds nice is no excuse. With distribution systems, as with individual morality, good intentions are no substitute for good performance.” (Hardin, p.
248) Hardin next considers the world food bank. Supposedly, all nations would contribute to the food bank and remove food when there is a shortage. In reality, rich nations put in food and poor nations take it out. This operates as a commons with several negative effects. The first is that poor nations have no motivation to save food during times of surplus.
If rich nations will bail them out every time a need develops, poor nations have no reason to save food during good years. Next, the world food bank acts as a ratchet to increase the population of poor nations. Normally, nations experience a population cycle.
They begin at their carrying capacity and increase until they are overpopulated. Next, an emergency will arise and reduce the population back to normal levels. The world food bank, however, prevents this natural cycle. Whenever poor nations experience an emergency, help from the food bank prevents a decrease in population. Thus, poor nations can rise in population indefinitely, well above the land’s carrying capacity, ending only in a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.
As claimed by Hardin, “Under the guidance of this ratchet, wealth can be steadily moved in one direction only, from the slowly-breeding rich to the rapidly-breeding poor, the process finally coming to a halt only when all countries are equally and miserably poor.” (Hardin, p. 251) Hardin next points out the environmental dangers of supporting increases in population. Every additional person born strains the environment. Hardin uses India as an example.
“The present population of India is 600 million, and it is increasing by fifteen million per year. An environmental load of this population is already great. The forests of India are only a small fraction of what they were three centuries ago. Soil erosion, floods, and the psychological costs of crowding are serious. Every one of the nets fifteen million lives added each year stresses the Indian environment more severely. Every life saved this year in a poor country diminishes the quality of life for subsequent generations. If, for instance, we thoughtlessly make it possible for the present 600 million Indians to swell to 1,200 million by the year 2001—as their present growth rate promises—will posterity in India thank us for facilitating an even greater destruction of their environment? Are good intentions ever a sufficient excuse for bad consequences?” (Hardin, p. 253) The following quote from Hardin nicely summarizes his main idea: “We cannot safely divide the wealth equitably among all present peoples, so long as people reproduce at different rates because to do so would guarantee that our grandchildren—everyone’s grandchildren—would have only a ruined world to inhabit.
” (Hardin, p. 256)George F. Kennan, an American diplomat, and foreign policy expert, has argued that immigration to the United States should be reduced.
Current social conditions demonstrate that there are limits to the number of immigrants the U.S. can accept.
Further, the U.S.’s dependence on cheap labor from poor countries threatens to recreate Third World conditions in the U.S. Preserving America’s environment, culture, and prosperity requires that immigration is reduced.
According to Kennan, “However one cuts it, the question is not whether there are limits to this country’s ability to absorb immigration; the question is only where those limits lie, and how they should be determined and enforced—whether by rational decision at this end or by the ultimate achievement of some sort of a balance of misery between this country and the vast pools of poverty elsewhere that now confront it. The inability of any society to resist immigration … is a serious weakness, and possibly even a fatal one, in any national society.” (Kennan, p. 19)Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), believes there should be a three-year moratorium on immigration. He cites excessive population growth, cultural fragmentation, ethnic tension, and declining living standards as examples of the negative results of current levels of immigration. He points out that due to immigration, the U.
S. now has the greatest foreign-born population in history. Furthermore, immigration to the United States now surpasses one million people per year, many of those illegal.
In fact, a Los Angeles Times poll in Mexico found that 4.7 million Mexicans—roughly 6 percent of Mexico’s population—intend to emigrate to the U.S.Pete Wilson, former governor of California, argued that the federal government should increase control of illegal immigration. In only a four-year period, while he was governor of California, enough people to fill a city the size of Oakland illegally entered the U.
S. through California. Currently, California spends billions of dollars to incarcerate enough illegal aliens to fill eight state prisons. Further, California taxpayers pay $3.6 billion a year to provide benefits to illegal immigrants. In order to reduce illegal immigration, Wilson believes the federal government should stop forcing state governments to provide education, healthcare, and other benefits to illegal immigrants, assure that government benefits are provided only to legal residents, and amend the Constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the U.
S. to illegal immigrants.Doris Meissner, a commissioner of the INS, argued in 1994 that the government needed to change its policies to curb asylum abuse.
She argued that the government needed to speed up the process of asylum claims and continue to distinguish between true refugees fleeing persecution and others. According to Meissner, “Immigrants are leaving the places they were born in, and they are looking for places they can live in either more comfortably or more safely. The decision to leave is a heart-wrenching, often traumatic, decision.
The problem is that there really is too much trauma, too much hardship, for too many people in today’s world, and it forces governments, in the places where the refuge is sought, to make an immigration policy distinction between true refugees fleeing persecution and others. It follows the principle that governments have not only the right but the obligation to select who may come to their territories.” (Meissner, p. 28)Pat Buchanan believes immigration should be suspended to preserve the nation. Immigration is changing the racial composition of this country.
By 2050, he points out, whites may be near a minority. “If the future character of America is not to be decided by our own paralysis,” he writes, “Americans must stop being intimidated by charges of ‘racist,’ ‘nativist’ and ‘xenophobe’—and we must begin to address the hard issues of race, culture and national unity.” (Buchanan, p. 32) Buchanan points out that the great American Melting Pot is not melting. In fact, racial tensions are rising.
One example is the riots in Los Angeles, where not only the victims were whites of attempted lynchings, Koreatown was also pillaged by Hispanics and blacks. Buchanan believes we need a “timeout” on immigration. “We should close our southern border to illegal immigrants, by troops if necessary, toughen our asylum laws, and restrict legal immigration to relatives of those already here. Looking back down the 20th century, we see that all the great multinational empires have fallen apart. Now, the multinational states—Canada, Czechoslovakia, India, Russia, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Ethiopia—are breaking apart.
Are we immune to all this? After a quarter century of wide-open immigration, we need at least a decade to assimilate the tens of millions who have come in. Else, Russia’s fate in the 90’s may be America’s in the new century.” (Buchanan, p.
33)Leon F. Bouvier, adjunct professor of demography at Tulane University School of Public Health in New Orleans, believes that immigration should be reduced to preserve the environment. The U.S. population is projected to grow to 454 million in 2050, mainly due to immigration.
This population increase will exacerbate several national and world environmental problems: increased global warming, air and water pollution, waste production, decreased food production, decreased water supplies, and the destruction of wetlands and infrastructure. The only way to prevent this widespread environmental destruction is to limit immigration. Bouvier points out that U.S. immigration is especially harmful to the world environment.
“Because the average consumption of Americans far exceeds that of any other country, any increase in the number of Americans has a disproportionate negative effect. Large-scale immigration to the United States helps the few who migrate but harms the billions who do not. In terms of global warming, waste production, energy use, and many other environmental concerns, citizens of the world can breathe easier when United States population stops increasing.” (Bouvier, p.
45)I believe that the U.S. must restrict immigration. The lifeboat analogy shows that the U.
S. cannot continue to have high immigration and protect its posterity. Our current immigration levels will only lead to the creation of Third World poverty in the U.S. If the U.
S. wants to preserve its resources for posterity and avoid being drawn into poverty, it must restrict immigration. Furthermore, U.S. immigration greatly affects the world environment.
This nation should reduce immigration in order to avoid severe destruction of the environment. Next, we must consider population growth in general. The world is already overpopulated, and nothing but environmental destruction and major catastrophe can result from further increases in population.
The U.S. must, therefore, work to limit its own population increases and encourage other nations to do the same. Based on everything considered so far, it appears that U.S. immigration and U.
S. aid to Third World nations greatly increase suffering and destruction, far outweighing the benefits to those helped. Therefore, Singer was incorrect. Our nation is already well past the point where further immigration harms this nation and the world more than it benefits the immigrants. Also, I believe an important aspect of the situation has been left out of all of the previous arguments. If population increases are so damaging and threaten to lead to nothing but increased suffering, don’t Third World nations with high reproductive rates have a moral duty to limit their populations? I believe that they do.
If they refuse, then the natural population cycle should be allowed to occur and those nations should be refused all international aid. Eventually, their populations will be reduced to the actual carrying capacity of the land.Based on all of the preceding arguments, I believe the U.S. should take the following specific actions on immigration. First, the U.S. should secure its borders against illegal immigrants, using troops if necessary.
Second, all legal immigration should be ended except for relatives of U.S. citizens and refugees. Only true refugees, those who face persecution in their own country, should be admitted, not those who migrate for economic reasons. Furthermore, the U.S. should carefully limit the number of refugees it accepts.
Third, the U.S. should promote population control in this country and throughout the world, especially among Third World nations who have the highest reproductive rates. If these poorer nations cannot reduce their population growth, the U.
S. should not offer any aid, allowing the natural population cycle to occur. Only when the world is able to achieve zero population growth will we be safe from imminent environmental disaster.Works CitedBouvier, Leon F.
“Immigration Should Be Restricted for Environmental Reasons.” Immigration Policy. Ed. Scott Barbour.
San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 38-46.Buchanan, Pat. “Immigration Should Be Suspended to Preserve the Nation.
” Immigration Policy. Ed. Scott Barbour. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 31-33.Hardin, Garrett. “Living on a Lifeboat.” 246-57.
Kennan, George F. “Immigration to the United States Should Be Reduced.” Immigration Policy. Ed.
Scott Barbour. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 17-20.Meissner, Doris. “Government Policies Should Be Reformed to Curb Asylum Abuse.” Immigration Policy. Ed.
Scott Barbour. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 28-30.Stein, Dan.
“The United States Should Enact a Moratorium on Immigration.” Immigration Policy. Ed.
Scott Barbour. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 21-23.Wilson, Pete.
“The Federal Government Should Increase Control of Illegal Immigration.” Immigration Policy. Ed. Scott Barbour.
San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press, 1995. 24-27.Singer, Peter. Practical Ethics. 2nd ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.