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Ethics and Social Responsibility:
Immigration and Amnesty in the United States
The question of immigration, especially in this country, is ever-present. From our past, and well into our future, the United States will be a nation of immigrants. However, as political candidates raise a number of questions relating to immigrants south of the border, one must wonder about how immigration has grown into such a hotly debated issue, and how it is separating this country. Though it is true that the United States needs immigration reform, one must also look at the traditions of the country, and how they can protect the less fortunate, especially in the area of immigration. The reason this must happen is because most come here with notions of a better place, where they can live safely and freely, and prosper as individuals. This nation ought to offer that to all individuals, for that is the basis on which it was founded by those escaping persecution in the Old Continent. This paper will address the complex issue of immigration, and will touch upon amnesty, as it relates to various current issues in the country today.
Brief History of Immigration
In order to being speaking about immigration and amnesty, one must understand a bit of a history of the immigration in this country. Immigration began with the Puritans who came to the New Continent in the 17th century, and who truly build this country from scratch. Perhaps the most important period of immigration in American history, however, and the most formative was the late 19-early 20 century period. During this time, the population of the United States swelled to a level never seen before. Immigrants, in this case, came to America due to various catastrophes in Europe, such as the Potato Famine in Ireland.
Ellis Island, one of the most important immigrant-related monument in the United States, oversaw this large immigration period. According to the Ellis Island Foundation,
"It has been estimated that nearly half of all Americans today can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through the Port of New York at Ellis Island. Now, nearly a century since the peak years of immigration, Ellis Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the National Park Service. Browse the sections of this site below to locate additional information about Ellis Island." (Ellis Island Foundation, 2011).
The Island further shows that many immigrants who came through underwent serious medical and psychological examinations, yet these did not compare to the toils they would have had to undergo on the old continent. It is therefore very true that people endured very much in order to have better economic opportunities. This is precisely the same question with which we are faced today. If there are people suffering close to our borders, should we not allow them a helping hand, and receive them under amnesty principles in this country?
Many would tend to say yes, but this issue can become quite complex. For example, what happens in economic opportunities do exist, yet people choose simply to come to the United States anyway? And what happens when conditions improve? These are very important questions facing society, and in order to understand them, the next part of the paper will focus on a short bit about amnesty and about it history in the United States.
Amnesty and Perception of Immigration in the United States
According to Amnesty International, all ought to have opportunity and not suffer at the hands of cruel circumstance. In the United States, belief ought to be the same.
[Historically, according to the United States Supreme Courts' interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, immigration enforcement and immigration policy matters rest in the hands of Congress (Henkin, 1987). This liberal yielding to Congress' authority is effectively absolute (Hemphill, 2009). This absolute authority still applies "even when legislative motivation reaches the lows of racism and/or demonstrates capricious, arbitrary and ill-willed-based rationales" (Cox & Posner, 2007). Moreover, the Constitution does not prohibit Congress from enacting laws regarding immigration that are inconsistent with the United States international obligations (Henkin, 1987).
Immigrant Reform and Results
In 1986, then President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The reported purpose of this legislation was to summarily increase immigrant amnesty and border security in an effort to resolve the undocumented immigrant situation (Scaperlanda, 2007). However, IRCA was unsuccessful as it did not serve to "reign in" undocumented immigrants. Further attempts by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act tried to manage the influx of undocumented immigrants by instituting re-entry bans which prohibited undocumented immigrants from applying for citizenship and re-entry into the U.S. when they had been deported for illegal immigration violations or criminal activity (Siegel, 2008).
There have been many scholars, researchers, legislatures, and politicians who have argued in favor of immigrant amnesty based on religious, economic and ethical motivations in the hopes that such consideration may assist public policy and legislative gatekeepers to reflect past that of "absolute legal stricture" (Hemphill, 2009).
The posited question rests on where the law offers a narrow and limited view, and addresses immigration in static measure based on economic analysis, health concerns and national security, moral ethics and theology may offer additional viable considerations that include the humane and benevolent treatment of undocumented immigrants; which immigration law proponents and the legislature should consider in the face of advocating restricted entry structures and strict deportation measures regarding current and proposed U.S. immigration laws (Hemphill, 2009).]
Anti-Immigrant Sentiments and Inherent Dangers
Amnesty international (AI) states that anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States are, indeed, quite dangerous. Some of the arguments made by amnesty proponents above are strongly rejected by United States Society. For example, in an article published by the organization, anti-immigrant sentiments were strongly evident and AI urged the U.S. To fight these sentiments in a few over half a dozen states. This may seems like very few states, but it is quite a large number and ought not be ignored:
"On the eve of Arizona's immigration enforcement law, S.B. 1070, taking effect, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is mobilizing its membership in nine states to speak out against efforts in their states to support Arizona's law and adopt similar measures. AIUSA members in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia are contacting state officials to express their opposition to the states' filing legal briefs siding with Arizona against the federal government's request for an injunction to block S.B. 1070. AIUSA members are also calling on the governors of each state to take a stand against the discriminatory immigration policies contained in S.B. 1070." (Amnesty International Contributing Writer, 2010).
The article further states that the law will cause to families being torn apart and the detainment of innocent people. Therefore, due to this law, it is difficult to protect these individuals and their individual rights. AIUSA's advocacy leader stated that such laws don't only threaten human rights and show disregard for international laws, but also shows disregard for Constitutional rights of those immigrants who have or who are eligible for legal status. (Amnesty International, 2010).
However, AI has not been able to sway many people. [Some of the major arguments against immigrant amnesty are that most U.S. citizens articulate a fundamental commitment to the "legitimacy and enforcement of U.S. immigration laws; with a number of Christians relying on scriptural reference to accommodate their positional that undocumented immigrants are not following the mandates or structure of the law and as a result, are outside the boundaries of righteousness (Martinez, 2007); (2) the law of the land strictly controls; therefore, many U.S. citizens expect the application and enforcement of immigration laws pertaining to the prevention of unauthorized entry and residency into the U.S. (Kavanaugh, 2008). ]
Why American Must Change its Opinion
Other arguments anti-immigration include simply that immigrants take over certain jobs that would otherwise be attributed to the American public, and in a declining economic climate, this is quite a powerful argument. Yet, as AI states above, this is unfair, and especially due to the fact that many immigrants have build lives here, which they cannot simply abandon to start in what is for many a completely different country. Furthermore, it is simply wrong morally to send people back to incredibly violent states. For example, an article was released on simply how dangerous it is becoming in Mexico.
Migrants, especially those who only come to the United States for a short period of time, often face great danger in their quest for a better life. The article, which speaks about mass kidnapping, torture and abuse, also states that it is quite possible more people are dying in Mexico than Afghanistan. (Reynolds, 2011). According to a report, these migrants, who come from South and Central America, and who attempt to reach the United States, are often times tortured or held in captivity until their United States families can send money, which they often must do by…[continue]
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