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United States Immigration Policy Essay

2873 words - 11 pages

Immigration policy is a controversial but rarely debated issue in U.S. politics. Politicians usually do not take strong stances on immigration, and rarely does a candidate make immigration policy a key piece of his platform. However, the issue is very divisive and decisions concerning immigration will have a large impact on this country's future. Immigration discussions often evoke strong feelings due to the racial and ethnic issues involved. Often, those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. are part of racial or ethnic groups that are minorities in this country. Therefore, anti-immigration views are often associated with racism and nativism. It can be dangerous, therefore, for a politician or other leader to speak out too strongly against immigration. Even if his opposition is based on population concerns, and not race or ethnicity, he can fall under heavy criticism by minority groups. This effect is partly due to the fact that past attempts to limit immigration were based on racism and nativism. Past opponents of immigration, particularly in the late 1800's to early 1900's, often argued that immigrants were inferior. Anti-immigration stances often evoke thoughts of past nativist movements, such as the Know-Nothing Party. In this paper, I will take a look at various attitudes towards immigration, beginning with Singer. Then, I will give my thoughts on the matter and the policy I feel the U.S. government should adopt.

Singer believes that all developed nations have a moral duty to accept more refugees. He bases this view on his utilitarian theory. Since refugees have a great interest in immigrating to a developed country, sometimes a life or death interest, Singer believes immigration should be allowed until the harm to the host country is equal to the benefit 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 rejects this definition and believes that those who immigrate for economic reasons should be considered refugees as well. Therefore, Singer believes developed countries have a duty to accept any immigrant who leaves his country due to poor conditions: economic, political, or otherwise. He also argues that refugees make the best immigrants. This is because refugees cannot return home and must fully commit themselves to their new country. In conclusion, Singer believes developed nations like the U.S. have a moral duty to take in many more refugees than they currently do. He writes 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 opposite view. In his essay Living on a Lifeboat, he uses the metaphor of a lifeboat to describe rich and poor nations....

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