Immigration in the U. S. While immigration has played an important role in the building and formation of America, new federal laws have resulted in mass immigration. "America was primarily founded on immigrants, however, immigration must be controlled legally, and immigrants should be treated equally despite what country they come from.

America has the most liberal laws towards immigrants than any other country." Luis Barker, Chief Patrol Agent In-Charge, US Border Patrol, El Paso, TX. Throughout history, Congress has enacted laws and has had to amend them to control the flow of both legal and illegal migration to the United States. In 1948, legislation was first enacted in an effort to control the number of applicants fleeing persecution; it permitted 205, 000 refugees to enter the United States. In 1952, Congress set in place major regulations setting parameters and quotas mostly for the eastern hemisphere and leaving the western hemisphere unrestricted. In 1953, congress was again faced with having to increase the number of refugees from 205, 000 to 415, 000. In order to qualify as a refugee one must have a well founded fear of persecution, not be firmly resettled in a third country, and must not be an aggravated felon.

In 1965, the national origin's quota system was abolished but still maintained was the principle of numerical by establishing 170, 000 hemispheric and 20, 000 per country ceilings and a seven 1 category preference system. This system included the spouses of lawful resident aliens, brother and sisters of United States citizens, skilled and unskilled workers. To present date spouses and minor children of US citizens are exempt any quota system. In 1980, the refugee act removed them from the preference category and established clear criteria and procedures for their admission. In 1986, Congress was faced with yet another national crisis which it attempted to resolve by enacting the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

IRCA was considered to be the most comprehensive act which was to grant amnesty to those who had resided in the US illegally since January 1, 1982, (2) created sanctions against persons and companies that hired illegal aliens, (3) created the a new classification of temporary agriculture and granted amnesty to such workers, (4) created a new visa waiver pilot program (VWPP) allowing the admission of certain non-immigrants without visas, (4) created legislature for conditional status for those couples whose marriage is less than two years prior to immigrating to the US. Under IRCA 2. 7 illegal aliens mostly from Mexico were given legal immigrant status. These new laws opened the door to the longest and largest wave of immigration ever-27 million since 1965, including illegal entries. The visa waiver pilot program (VWPP) is designed to extend reciprocity to the countries that permit US citizens to visit their countries without the need of a tourist visa. To date a total of twenty-nine countries are signatory to the treaty.

In order to qualify, countries must have a low rate of non-immigrant overstays to the US, and must have state of the art machine readable passports. 2 Prior to the enactment of IRCA, marriage fraud between non-citizens and US citizens was rampant and out of control. Measures were put in place to reduce this by requiring couples to submit proof to INS. This proof must show that the couple has been living together and submitted ninety days prior to the second anniversary. If the couple fails to establish that the marriage is valid, the non-citizen will not become a lawful permanent resident and will be faced with and order of deportation. The only exception, is that the non-citizen cannot be the subject of spousal abuse and be expected to remain in the marriage for the two years.

After almost thirteen years, Congress and the United States citizens have had the misfortune of reflecting on the blunders of the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 (IRCA). The amnesty permanently added millions of poor people to our society. A study done by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showed that after ten years in the United States, the average amnestied illegal alien had only a seventh grade education and an annual salary of less than$9, 000 a year. The cost of amnesty to the American taxpayer is unbelievable. According to a recent study by the Center for American studies, the total net cost of amnesty after ten years comes to over$78 billion dollars.

An amnesty sends the message that it's okay to break the law. Eventually, it says, you will be forgiven, even rewarded for doing so. Further-more, it makes a mockery of the legal immigration process, where-in those who obey the rules, wait years to immigrate. Their is a list of 3. 6 million eligible people waiting to be admitted as immigrants to our country; some of them have been on 3 that list for eighteen years. Illegal aliens make a mockery of those who respect our laws and our country's sovereignty by waiting for an opportunity to immigrate.

Again Congress and the American public are faced with a serious problem -- the high number of criminal aliens. Criminal aliens are a growing threat to public safety and national security, as well as a drain on our scare criminal justice resources. In 1980, our federal and state housed fewer than 9, 000 criminal aliens. By the end of 1994, these same prisons housed over 59, 000 criminal aliens.

Today, criminal aliens account for over 25% of federal prison inmates and represent the fastest growing segment of the federal prison population. For the first time ever, more that 50, 000 criminal aliens were deported in fiscal year 1997. In fiscal year 1998, the number jumped by more than 50% to 106, 000. According to Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Lamar Smith, only a small percentage of criminals are being deported. Congress in 1996 passed a law that took effect last October that requires mandatory detention and deportation of aliens who commit any of a long list of offenses, regardless of how long ago they occurred.

INS is making every effort to remove the criminal aliens expeditiously but many foreign countries hinder this process by not issuing the necessary travel documents in an expedient fashion. This intentional delay affect the American public, both socially and economically. Closer to home, Miami's foreign born population rose, in a ten year period, by about 28, 000 (14. 9%) since 1980. During the same period, the city's overall population was increasing by about 12, 000. 4 This caused the share of the population that was foreign born to increase from 53.

7% to 59. 7%. In contrast, the largest number of immigrants are of Cuban decent totaling 72, 042, Haitians, 29, 219, Jamaicans, 9, 887. According to reports by the US Border Patrol, 2, 000 Cubans have arrived since October 1, 1998. Since it's enactment in 1965, The Cuban Adjustment Act has fundamentally treated Cuban nationals differently than any other national. This law provides Cuban nationals a "safe haven", no questions asked, do as you please in America.

It is believed that the Cuban nationals are fleeing a government of persecution, but in my opinion, they are fleeing a government in economic shambles. Despite the fact that their country is economically inept they should be treated as any other person that comes to the country illegally. Nonetheless, as soon as Cubans set foot on American soil they are granted with employment authorization, can adjust their status to lawful permanent status (green card) within a year, can apply for US citizenship within five years, and government assistance (welfare). All of these benefits without really knowing about their backgrounds.

For instance, a mass murderer in Cuba could set foot on US soil and based on a honor system interview conducted by INS, the person must be admitted.