Are All Immigrants Either Legal or Illegal Only?

Anyone familiar with the history of the US knows that the country’s history is closely connected with immigration policy. The United States was in fact founded on immigrants who arrived in the New World looking for freedom and a better way of life. Since then, policies have changed radically and have become far more strict – a fact that some experts say may be harming the US economy.

In the past, immigration was more fluid. Between 1908 and 1915 alone, about 7 million immigrants reached US shores and during the same period 2 million left the US. In many cases, immigrants came to the US but eventually returned to their country of origin. In many cases, long waits for visas and complicated forms were not required.

Today, the media tends to lump immigrants into one of two categories: undocumented or illegal immigrants and legal immigrants. Legal immigrants are often seen as those who want to settle in the US for the long term and want to become US citizens. The requirements for immigration to the US are now very strict and a long delay is the norm. To prove their worth, many immigrants to the US need to be in-demand professionals and need to pass interviews and meet other requirements to arrive in the US.

Some experts believe that a more fluid immigration policy would be more beneficial, especially when it comes to attracting needed workers and skilled professionals to the US economy. Having visa categories that allow immigrants to come to the US, leave for some time, and then return would allow the US to enjoy the benefits of a diverse workforce without compelling newcomers to make decisions about their future in the long-term. The flexibility would make the US more attractive for professionals from around the world.

Some experts also believe that there needs to be a blurring of categories between illegal and legal immigrant categorizations. In the media, undocumented immigrants are sometimes depicted as those who violate laws and harm the US. However, many pay taxes and contribute to their local economies. Some undocumented immigrants were brought into the US as young children and are not even aware of their status.