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Through the centuries immigration has been a major source to the United States’ growth and development. But it has been also, and it is still, a source of controversy and conflict.
One of the biggest problems tied to immigration in US is the large number of illegal immigrants which outnumbered the legals one. A 2011 survey showed that the illegal immigrants living in the United States in 2010 were about 11.2 million – a number essentially unchanged from the previous year -.
In the controversy about this fundamental issue, either Democrats and Republicans agreed over the years on the need to make changes to the federal immigration laws to face this problem. But essentially just in 2010, after the passage of a new immigration bill in Arizona, the need of a reform in this field has came back to light and has become the subject of discussion.
The Arizona immigration bill, the toughest of the nation about illegal immigration, was signed on April 2010.It required state and local police officers to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal It also makes it a state crime to not carry immigration papers. One day before to take effect, in July 28th, the bill was blocked by a judge who asserted the primary authority of the federal government over state lawmakers in immigration matters.
The bill was strongly criticized by President Obama who declared that it threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
Analysing the strategy of the Obama administration in matter of illegal immigration, it is clear that he is pursuing the programs started by the former President Bush administration, despite initially he pledged he would had moderated his predecessor ‘s policies.
Starting from the Bush administration’s policies Mr. Obama expanded a program to verify workers immigration status, replacing immigration raids at factories and farms with a different enforcement strategy sending federal agents to check companies’ records searching for illegal immigrant workers.
These kinds of audits don’t lead to the deportation of the illegal immigrants workers as in the past, but these are being usually fired. Since the beginning of this practice in 2009 thousands of suspected illegal immigrants workers have been fired.
The aim of this policy is to prevent future illegal immigration discouraging the employers to hire illegal immigrants and the immigrants to not cross the borders illegally being conscious of the difficulty of finding a job in those conditions. The effects of the enforcement of this strategy are evident mostly on the Mexican illegal immigration which seems to be reducing. Mexicans – that are the largest group of illegal immigrants – are delaying in crossing the United States borders illegally because of the current situation of low possibilities to find jobs, a considerable decline has been shown by the Mexican Government’s census data.
According to the Department of Homeland Security officials, in each of the last two years the number of immigrants who were deported is the highest in the country’s history, about 400,000.
Over the last months many states government all around US started advancing legislation proposals inspired to Arizona’s bill, with the aim to crack down on the illegal immigration penalizing the illegal immigrants. Mostly in the states under Republican control, this fact is due to the lack of consensus recorded by the Congress.
The debate on toughening up on strategies against illegal immigrants is stirring also the states that have usually been tolerant, that are proposing tougher measures in matter of illegal immigration.
The purpose is to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants to push them to go back to their own countries. As never before since 2006 the possibilities of these laws to be passed appear so high. Perhaps is something changing in the Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants or it is just a political manoeuvre? We will see if the 2012 elections would make reach a turning point on this issue.