In this Immigration essay example, we will offer some sample titles, topics, an outline, and structure that you can use in helping you write your essay. The start of any good essay is an interesting topic statement followed by a succinct and descriptive thesis statement. The thesis statement acts as the direction from which a reader takes when examining the body and conclusion. Body paragraphs should include a background on the topic and subtopics addressing each part of the thesis statement. The conclusion is a brief recap of what was covered throughout the paper.
Immigration in the United States
Past and Present Immigration Patterns in the United States
Lost and Found: Immigration in the United States
History of Immigration
Immigration Patterns in the United States
B. Immigration Patterns
C. Social: Effects of Illegal Immigration
D. Political: Trump’s Stand Against Illegals
Immigration to the United States dates all the way back to the 1500’s with Roanoke Island and continued with British colonists, leading up to the South American, Central American, and Mexican waves of immigration that make up most immigration patterns today. Although the waves of immigration have changed throughout the history of the country, most of the same problems occur. From assimilation to a new country, to social pressures, and political reform, being an immigrant in the United States bring problems. This may be due to how immigrants are seen and the potential effects immigration causes to the American economy.
This essay will cover the roots of American immigration, patterns of immigration, social and political effects of illegal immigration, and the current handling of illegal immigrants by current President, Donald Trump.
Most of the early immigrants to the United States came from Great Britain. Information from the 1980’s United States Census shares that over 49 million Americans or 26.34% of the population claim English ancestry. Such statistics place British Americans as the biggest American ethnic group (Barkan, 2013). The reason why so many British people came to the then colonies was for religious freedom. Some felt persecuted in Great Britain for their religious beliefs and sought out a fresh start elsewhere. They saw the American colonies to begin anew and practice their beliefs without fear or worry (Barkan, 2013).
So many come to the United States now to escape persecution. It is interesting to see how the roots of immigration began with the same sentiments and notion. Although early waves of immigration began with Great Britain, it wasn’t until Roanoke that colonization efforts truly took hold. One of the earlier attempts at immigration, Roanoke, marked the beginning of colonization efforts. “Soon after the failed attempt to colonize Roanoke in 1585, the commercial classes and merchant companies used their growing political voice to promote immigration to America” (Barkan, 2013, p. 19). Companies like the Virginia Company as well as the Massachusetts Bay Company allowed for early colonists to voyage to North America and establish the first permanent English settlements. These settlements then attracted more immigrants, keeping the flow of immigration consistent for centuries. “These business-minded, entrepreneurial, profit-seeking colonies proved suitable for the American environment and perhaps set much of the tone for American culture” (Barkan, 2013, p. 19).
So, what began as a potential business venture, allowed for the expansion and continued growth of the American colonies. These colonies would then rebel against its mother country (Great Britain), and begin the American Revolution. The American Revolution heralded the birth of the United States Constitution and the country it formed thereafter. It also brought changes in immigration patterns that would represent the growing changes of each era in the United States. These eras began with ethnic diversity, then halted, and began again, showing the differences in policy with each change.
Before the American Revolution, the North American colonies experienced a great diversity of immigrants. “…and a number of those communities- German, Dutch, Swedish, Irish Protestants, and the other British, along with the extensive population of Africans- set the stage for the accommodation and acceptance of some populations…” (Barkan, 2013, p. 4). After the American Revolution, immigration to America became limited. This was due to the politics of the Napoleonic Wars (Powell, 2008).
These limitations prompted some groups to move to Canada. “The immigration of Scots from Scotland itself was redirected to Canada after the American Revolution. By the time the first Canadian census in 1871, Scots totaled 26 percent of the population, compared to 24 percent Irish and 20 percent English” (Powell, 2008, p. 265). What immigrants did make it to the United States were majority British and German. Although some Chinese immigrants made it to the United States thanks to railroad work, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act restricted immigration from China. It was not until the opening of Ellis Island in 1892 that the country saw a greater influx of immigrants. This is because prior to Ellis Island, individual states regulated immigration, creating even tougher hurdles for immigrants of the time (Powell, 2008).
While Ellis Island made it easier for immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Ireland to come to the United States, the Chinese immigrants were excluded for over sixty years from 1882 to 1943. The act showed the level of racial tension in the United States and acted a precursor to future racial tensions in the country because of immigration. The United has had a long history of racial tension. Racial tension that sparked political and social action.
Beginning with the first Africans that were captured and put to work as slaves in the colonies, institutionalized racism remained a dark part of American politics and society for centuries. Americans saw Africans as property and resented the wave of Chinese immigrants that came for the promise of work in gold-rich California. The resentment of these new immigrants became so strong that during the 1850’s, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant political party formed to severely curb immigration. They succeeded in putting a presidential candidate up for election in 1956 (Millard Filmore) and were able to dominate the political climate of Massachusetts, generating a formidable power there. “Their most spectacular triumph was achieved in Massachusetts. In their very first election, Massachusetts Know-Nothings won the governorship and all state offices, every sear in the state senate, and all but 2 out of the 378 seats in the house of representatives” (Reichley, 2010, p. 188).
The Know-Nothings were able to plant the seeds from which the Exclusion Act developed and would take decades to break. The Chinese suffered racial injustice and continued restrictions for decades to come. It was not until 1965 that the United States began welcoming new immigrants from Asia and Latin America, sparking the kinds of immigration patterns seen today. The quota system that favored the inclusion of European immigrants to America, ended in 1965 and with it, came migration from Mexico and countries in Central and South America. These immigrants sparked a wave of illegal immigration that would set the stage for the effects felt and culminating during the 2016 presidential election.
To understand the negative sentiments associated with illegal immigrants, it is important to understand where they come from and how many come from each country. This can perhaps paint a picture of the illegal immigrant and why their presence may bother some American citizens. The main source of undocumented immigrants come from Mexico with an estimated 6.2 million. Guatemala has 723,000 illegal immigrants in the United States. El Salvador comes in at 465,000 and Honduras at 337,000. Other countries with a substantial number of illegal immigrants are China (268,000), India (267,000), Korea (198,000), and the rest (2.1 million) come from other countries (Yee, Davis, & Patel, 2017).
Because so many Mexicans are undocumented immigrants, the stereotypical image of the illegal immigrant is Mexican. Add to that the potential addition of criminals as part of the undocumented immigrant population, and it yields another layer of negative association to the stereotype. “The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that 820,000 of the 11 million unauthorized have been convicted of a crime. About 300,000, or less than 3 percent of the 11 million undocumented, have committed felonies” (Yee, Davis, & Patel, 2017). Criminal activity is associated with illegal immigrants. They managed to sneak into the country illegally and may be capable of other crimes. Many Americans that want illegal immigrants deported, note the identity theft crimes that illegal immigrants participate in each year. “The Social Security Administration estimated that in 2010, 1.8 million undocumented immigrants worked under a number that did not match their name” (Yee, Davis, & Patel, 2017).
Risk of identity theft, loss of jobs for the working class, and potential exposure to criminals has made the idea of illegal immigrants a main issue in the country. With each year passing, the number of undocumented immigrants increases. According to statistics 150,000 undocumented immigrants came to America versus one million legal immigrants. Those that come undocumented, the majority are Hispanic/Latino and Asian. “Of the 28.4 million foreign-born residents in the United States in 2000, Latinos accounted for 14.5 million; 7.2 million were Asian” (Cannon, 2010, p. 185). These illegals join the 11 million existing illegals residing in the United States, further creating a divide among the American public. That divide has propelled action in the government.
In the last decade, the White House has attempted to crack down on illegal immigration. “In 2005 the Boarder Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act was passed in the House of Representatives, but was defeated in the Senate. The bill would have made it a Federal crime to be an illegal immigrant in the United States” (Cannon, 2010, p. 185). Although the bill was not passed, it helped set the stage like the Know-Nothing Party did in the late 19th century, to breed anti-immigrant attitudes among American voters. Many of those that disliked the arrival of undocumented immigrants felt so because illegals took jobs for lower pay that would have gone to working class Americans. These Americans could find no source of employment and saw the illegals as a step back from economic prosperity. The attitudes festered for years until the arrival of political figures that would help these Americans turn their anger into real political power.
These political figures helped states like Arizona and Alabama crackdown on illegals, allowing police to check for illegal status. “After Arizona and Alabama passed strict immigration laws that required police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected to be in the country illegally, anti-immigrant groups lost some of their momentum” (Fox, 2014). One such notable figure was U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton who approved such measures in a 2012 Supreme Court decision. The law was nicknamed ‘show me your papers’ provision and began as early as July 2010 with small changes to state immigrant smuggling laws.
These small changes were negligible at first. People at the time were happy with the outcome, stopping their anti-immigration rhetoric and rallies. However, a couple of years passed and people began to take the anti-immigration position again. Many that opposed illegal immigration felt illegals took jobs from them, were engaging in criminal activity, and took valuable government resources. So, the stage was set in 2016 for another anti-immigration movement to take shape. This time it would come as part of a presidential platform. This presidential platform set the stage not only for the 2016 Presidential election, but for many of the actions that took place in 2017 in the White House.
During the Presidential election of 2016, Donald Trump used illegal immigration as a platform from which to build his campaign. His famous ‘build a wall’ promise matched the negative sentiments felt by an angry and disheartened American public.
Building upon already established negative perceptions of illegal immigrants, Trump has manipulated these perceptions by echoing people’s prejudices. During a debate inside Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, Trump made a point of stating: ‘They send the bad ones over, because they don’t want to pay for them, they don’t want to take care of them.’ Trump has also proposed to build a wall that will run the length of the Mexico/U.S. border in order to stop illegal immigration (Korostelina, 2016, p. 42).
Such campaign promises led him to gain victory in the Republic Primaries and eventually, win the Presidential election against Hillary Clinton. When Trump took office in January of 2017, his first 100 days marked a change in how the American government dealt with immigration.
Trump had won the election and prepared his cabinet so he could begin transforming the United States. At the top of his agenda was the deportation of illegal immigrants. Through the signing of two executive orders, Trump began the crackdown on illegals. The executive orders aimed to tighten border security as well as crack down on sanctuary cities allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make more arrests. Since the first 100 days of President Trump’s term as President, over 41,300 arrests have been made. “…represents a 38 percent increase from the same time period in 2016, when ICE arrested 30,000 undocumented immigrants. ICE’s acting director attributed spike in arrests to ‘agents and officers given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety’” (Bendix, 2017). While arrests have increased by 13,000 arrests, the number of deportations have gone down compared to 2016 deportation rates around the same period.
The two executive orders signed by Trump in January of 2017 sought to increase the authority of U.S. immigration officials. The details of the first order include “he immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” between Mexico and the U.S., and calls for an additional 5,000 border patrol agents in the region” (Bendix, 2017), while the second order adds a limit to the ability of sanctuary cities to offer refuge to illegals. Trump did this by removing eligibility of these cities to receive federal funding if they did not cooperate with immigration authorities. Additionally, the second order “expands the number of undocumented immigrants who are considered “priorities for removal.” Under the new legislation, any undocumented immigrant who poses a “risk to public safety or national security” qualifies as a priority” (Bendix, 2017).
While the Obama Administration sought to prioritize the capture of criminal illegals, especially those involved in gangs and organized crime, Trump decided to widen the net and used such priority on most illegal immigrants. As to why many of these arrested illegals have not been deported, the backlog experienced by the courts serve as the main reason. With more cases added thanks to the new arrests, the immigration court system has slowed down, keeping deportations at a stand-still. Deportations have declined to 56,315, a twelve percent decrease from 2016 (Bendix, 2017).
Regardless of number of deportations or number of arrests, the Trump Administration has made it clear it wishes to end the problem of illegals in America. Trump supporters hail Trump’s decision to build the wall and arrest illegals. However, another key action by Trump was not so well favored. The ‘Muslim Ban’ Trump signed as an executive order, restricted travel to and from six predominantly Muslim countries (Newton, 2017).
The targeted countries were Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Iran (Newton, 2017). Critics of the ban believed the move was unconstitutional and the courts eventually removed the ban. This was regarded by many in the government and media as the most extreme act of anti-immigration in American history. Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was roughly the same in limiting certain people from entering the country, Trump’s executive order demonstrated the kind of fear and anger the American public feels because of immigration in a society that has supposedly freed itself from racism and societal outrage. If these events are what mark Trump’s presidency, it shows the level of instability in the United States. Furthermore, it marks a change in American beliefs and sentiments towards immigration.
Immigration has been an integral part of the United States since its colonial days. What started as a failed experiment at Roanoke became waves of new people each century. Although there was diversity in the days before the American Revolution, things changed after it. One notable change was the desire of the American government to exclude entire peoples from immigrating into the country. What started off as a Know-Nothing political party, took form as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Only in 1965 did immigration resume, full steam ahead.
With the new waves of immigrants came new problems. This was in the form of illegal immigrants. Many illegal immigrants came from what is known as Latin America (Mexico, Central, and South America). Mexico primarily, brought many illegal immigrants that reshaped the way immigrants are viewed by Americans and how the American government sought to alleviate the problem of illegal immigration.
What culminated in the election of President Trump, immigration took center stage as it represented the hardships, beliefs, and principles of many in the American public. Voters wanted more economic stability and saw illegal immigration as a deterrent to true American prosperity. President Donald Trump used this platform to gain the votes of sympathetic voters and parlayed that power into removing many illegal immigrants, even setting a never-before-seen ban on any immigrant desiring to come to or come back into the United States that came from certain countries. These times have brought back many difficult and troubling experiences for immigrants and set the stage for a new era in immigration.
This era seems rife with anger and cries of injustice on both sides. Has immigration become a nightmare for those looking to come to the United States? Time will tell. For now, immigration remains part of the American society. Immigration is still a way for people to come to a new land and get a second chance at a new life.
Immigration is a topic that offers a myriad of ways to address various subjects. Because immigration is different for every country, it is important to understand the background and current immigration patterns of any country you wish to cover. We hope this immigration essay offers you the tools to tackle other broad topics with ease and finesse. Who says some topics are too large to talk about? If you need any additional assistance, let us know. We’ll be happy to help.
Barkan, E. R. (2013). Immigrants in American history: Arrival, adaptation, and integration. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Bendix, A. (2017, May 17). Immigrant Arrests Are Up but Deportation Is Down Under Trump Administration – The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/05/under-trump-immigrants-arrests-are-up-but-deportation-is-down/527103/
Cannon, M. E. (2010). Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World. IVP Books.
Fox, L. (2014, July 24). Anti-Immigrant Hate Coming From Everyday Americans Frustration with the current immigration system is coming from citizens, not hate groups. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/07/24/anti-immigrant-hate-coming-from-everyday-americans
Korostelina, K. V. (2016). Trump effect. New York: Routledge.
Newton, C. R. (2017). Still Sanders: Understanding 2016 & Moving Forward.
Powell, J. (2008). Encyclopedia of North American immigration. New York: Infobase Publishing.
Reichley, J. (2010). Religion in American public life. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Yee, V., Davis, K., & Patel, J. K. (2017, March 7). Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigrants in the United States – The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/06/us/politics/undocumented-illegal-immigrants.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Politics&action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft&pgtype=Multimedia