Global immigrants are growing as people seek better environments to establish their livelihoods. While countries like the United States offer refuge to thousands of immigrants, the political opinion is divided. Former President Donald Trump faces restrictive immigration policies in the United States, while the Democrats are keen on allowing refugees to build in America. Countries in Europe are also helping immigrants from regions in Africa and the Middle East. The paper demonstrates the causes of immigration and explains why people escaping problems in their home countries deserve help. It illustrates poverty and violence as the leading causes of immigration; hence vulnerable populations should not be criminalized. Lack of employment in home countries and broken economic systems push people to search for better environments. Developing countries cannot support critical infrastructure such as healthcare, exposing vulnerable people. Violence emanating from political fallouts and extremism is causing people to seek safety in other countries. Immigration, therefore, is not a criminal act but a desperate attempt by people to escape problems from their home countries.
Keywords: Immigrants, Poverty, Violence, Extremism
Causes of Immigration
The United States extends a welcoming hand to thousands of immigrants from South America, Africa, and parts of Asia. The influx of immigrants has seen the topic become a prominent feature in the American political competition. The former president of the United States, Donald Trump, was particularly opposed to immigrants and moved to impose restrictive policies and even banned foreigners from countries such as Iran and Nigeria from immigrating to America. On the other hand, the Democrats decried the hostile attitude towards immigrants and promised to reverse the punitive policies once they assumed power. True to the word, President Joe Biden has reinstalled a welcoming approach to immigrants and eased policies.
The Green Card lottery is among the most prominent instrument enabling thousands of immigrants to get into America every year. The massive interest in America’s elaborate and stable economic system is because it assures people of a consistent flow of employment opportunities. The United States has enshrined democratic values that give individuals higher latitude of individual liberties and freedoms, thus attracting many people to escape civil wars and persecution by extremist groups and societies. The United States is a leading champion of democracy and stands out as the biggest economy in the world. It, therefore, attracts a large number of legal and illegal immigrants. Poverty and violence are the leading causes of immigration into the United States. The inflow of immigrants into the United States will continue as long as the country provides an opportunity of hope for people running away from extreme poverty and political and social conflicts.
Poverty and Search for Employment
In the months preceding the 202 Presidential elections, the incumbent President Donald Trump and contestants from the Democratic Party endured a heated exchange regarding the treatment of immigrants from Mexico. President Trump’s flagship project of building a wall on the southern border with Mexico escalated an already divisive issue as Democrats opposed what they felt was unnecessary aggression against a vulnerable population running away from endless poverty. On the other hand, President Trump insisted that an influx of illegal immigrants contributed to the rise of crime, especially in the border states. However, the bottom line not in contention by both political divides is the poverty situation in South America and other countries. It is noteworthy that many people worldwide use the Mexican route to penetrate the United States by taking advantage of the expansive porous border. Countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico have diminished employment opportunities due to collapsed economies. The high living cost and crime rates have made it challenging to build a life in the south. For instance, many immigrants are unemployed parents with children—the cross into America to take up minimum wage jobs to support their families.
Further, most immigrants have no formal skills and are thus unable to penetrate competitive blue-collar jobs in their home countries (Gutiérrez, 2016). Their only hope for educating and supporting their families is to find consistent income unavailable in their home countries. Consequently, they are forced by circumstances to take the daring journey up north where there is an assurance of making money.
The rescinding of harsh immigrant policies has restored the right to healthcare even to illegal immigrants. Healthcare is an expensive undertaking in developing countries like Mexico. The high poverty level prevents a sizeable population from accessing quality healthcare, and the governments are either unable or unwilling to offer sufficient incentives (Gutiérrez, 2016). The vulnerable population finds it prudent to cross into the United States to benefit from modern healthcare. The United States provides an enticing support system for people to better their lives compared to developing and third world countries. The extreme poverty levels emanating from mismanagement of public resources hamper any meaningful development pushing people into desperation. Therefore, the exodus into the United States is no more than vulnerable people seeking solace and a chance for financial liberation.
Political and Civil Unrest
The war in Ukraine has displaced millions of people who have escaped to neighboring countries. The United States, the UK, and other European countries have also offered to support Ukrainians seeking refuge from the war. Europe has had to deal with immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, notwithstanding the risk of escaping from political and civil conflicts in countries like Libya. Violence is a prime cause of immigration globally as people seek a peaceful environment to build their lives. Conflict breeds poverty, injustice, and extremism, making it untenable to establish livelihoods (Blunt, 2019). Similar situations are witnessed in the south American countries of Venezuela and Colombia, where conflicts have led to mass displacement of the population. The issue of immigration is attributable to persistent conflicts that disrupt people and their livelihoods. No one can thrive in conflict-prone areas. The middle East is a perfect example where huge areas in Iraq and Afghanistan remain underdeveloped because of conflict. Libya, a country that was once doing well, has become almost unlivable because of constant fighting between rival political groups. The same goes for Syria, which is now a haven of extremist groups. Families in the affected countries are uprooted from their homes and forced into exile in stable countries. The United States is a prominent global player in peace efforts, having deployed the military in the Middle East. It still goes an extra mile to offer refuge to a handful of people from war-torn areas.
Extremism is a growing problem that is pushing people from their homes. Political, sexual, religious, and cultural intolerance exposes minority groups to violent attacks. In particular, the rise of people advocating for equal rights for same-sex marriages has faced strong resistance in some enclosed and conservative societies. Extremist persons and groups opposed to LGBTQ are unleashing vicious attacks and even killing members of the LGBTQ community. Countries with entrenched liberal laws like the United States and European countries are playing host to victims of extremism. Violent extremism is visible in Afghanistan, where women are victims of unequal laws perpetuated by religious groups. Entities such as ISIL have killed people as they invoke extremist ideologies in the Middle East. People escaping the wrath of extremism are pushing the number of global immigrants, and countries with established and accommodative legal and social systems are providing the much-needed support. It is worthwhile to appreciate that giving accommodation to people escaping unjust and extreme societies is a fundamental step toward demonstrating to the world that people have a right to life regardless of different ideologies. The United States stands tall in illustrating the need for an accommodative system that allows individuals to enjoy fundamental freedom.
While countries decry the increasing number of immigrants due to the financial and social burdens on their economies, accommodating people escaping vices such as poverty and violence demonstrates the willingness of the world to entrench individual rights and liberties. People have a right to live in an environment where they can invest their skills to better their lives. At the same time, people have a right to access healthcare and live free of violence. The United States and other European countries are at the forefront of restoring hope to immigrants seeking a conducive environment to restart their lives. It is, therefore, unacceptable that vulnerable people are criminalized or denied entry into safe countries. Immigration is an opportunity for countries to offer a helping hand to vulnerable refugees and demonstrate the right to co-exist in diverse societies.
Blunt, G. D. (2019). Global poverty, injustice, and resistance. Cambridge University Press.
Gutiérrez, R. A. (2016, April 5). Mexican Immigration to the United States. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.146