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International Migration

Both increasing population and a developing nationalism encourage governments to restrict immigration to the type of immigrants they {pel can most  be assimilated and to the number the nation can easily absorb
into its economy. Legal immigrants into the United States, including refugees, averaged 600,000 a year for the period 1979 to 1981, and the number of illegal immigrants was • estimated at between 100,000 and 500,000 annually  Reporter,  Immigration patterns in the United States changed with the Immigration Act of 1965. The rigid national quota system (which allowed only 100 immigrants a year from most States. The majority of illegal immigrants are Mexicans who crossed the border illegally, but there are many other nationalities, most of whom enter the country as legal v.isitors and then overstay their visas. The “push” comes from Mexican society with much pov-;” erty, unemployment, and overpopulation. The “pull” comes from the prospect of wages, which, while very low by American standards, are many times higher than these workers
can get in Mexico. . The 2,OOO-mileborder with Mexico is obviously   difficult to police, and the Irnmigra- 4,;ton and Naturalization Service feels that its funds are inadequate. In addition, there is much business pressure to “go easy” on the illegal immigrants. Fruit growers, truck farmers, and many other business people find it difficult to get local Americans to take lowerlevel jobs. It is very difficult to identify the illegal immigrants without harassing legal immigrants of the same nationality. IJIegal immigration is extremely difficult to control. Not all immigrants are uneducated and unskilled [Ioyce and Hunt, 1982]. Many are highly successful in business and the professions.  Some 30 percent of the American NobelPrize winners have been immigrants [Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, 1981]. The United States has traditionally welcomed refugees from oppression. In the recent case of illegal Haitian immigrants, some have sought to broaden the definition of refugee. It may be argued whether most Haitians are oppressed, but there is no denying that most Haitians are desperately poor [McGrath, 1982].Some propose that the United States should accept “economic refugees” as well. Since a sizable proportion of the world’s population could qualify as economic refugees, opening the gates to their entry would place a major strain on American resources. Despite current restrictions, the United States is still one of the few countries taking large numbers of immigrants. At present levels of   legal and illegal immigration, it would be necessary for American citizens to cut their family size below the average of two children
to achieve zero population growth. (The Commission Population Growth and America’s Future, 1972, p. 201]. As birthrates fall, immigration becomes a more Significant factor in population Increase; yet it is difficult to control, and both humanitarian and economic defenses can be made for allowing immigration to continue.

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