Ellis Island
Ellis Island

Immigrating technically means the act of non-native people moving to a new place to settle there. Waves of immigration have occurred for as long as civilization has existed. In the past few centuries immigration has brought new people from other parts of the world to the U.S. These waves have been comprised of Western Europeans, Central Americans, Asians and other ethnic groups as well. The causes of immigration are varied and personal, the effects are still being debated and studied.

Economy, Wars and Politics Causes

American immigrant
American immigrant

Many people live in countries with governments and politicians that are corrupt, inefficient or both. Their lives are a daily reminder of the sadness and discomfort that is accompanied by poverty due to a crushed economy. At times the government controls the job market, barring certain people from gaining access to certain professions. They can also have too much debt to other nations to help out their own people or invest in resources to gain competitive economic ground. Many nations are in a state of civil war or war with a neighboring country. People in these countries dream of a place where they can live peacefully and feel safe.

Personal Rights and Freedom Causes

Muslim
Muslim

Some people have immigrated to the states to escape religious persecution. Although it may seem old fashioned in the U.S. to discriminate based on religion, this practice still occurs in many parts of the world. In the Middle East, Christians, Jews and Muslims are still fighting for the holy land they believe belongs to them. Some emigrate to follow friends and family. Other people are brought here because a U.S. family has adopted them from another place. Others find, or think they have found, an opportunity for large financial gain.

Effects

Restaurant worker
Restaurant worker

When people speak today of the effects of immigration they usually refer to our economy. Some people believe that immigration should be encouraged and that it helps our economy as immigrants are willing to do jobs established citizens do not. For example, food service and maintenance jobs that are held by the young and the uneducated could be done by immigrants. The other side of the argument is that immigrants are taking away jobs from Americans as they come here looking for work. One could argue that young Americans should be working in food service or maintenance jobs for the experience and pay. There is no official ruling on which side of the argument is correct. Some people believe immigrants aversely affect American pay by accepting lower wages, while others argue that immigration raises wages. The debate rages on as economists publish the results of studies and as Congress and municipal governments pass new immigration legislation.