Immigration is often a heated debate topic, particularly during campaign season. This year the attention to immigration issues increased with a proposal to build a wall along the border between Mexico and the United States. Donald Trump's proposal has caught the nation's attention because of its massive undertaking.
Regardless of one's stance on such a proposal, it brings attention to immigration issues. Immigration continues to be an important issue in the United States. A recent study dove into the nuts and bolts of immigration in the United States, focusing specifically on how enforcement laws have impacted immigration rates.
Essentially, researchers were looking to determine if immigration laws are working.
Immigration law: The basics
Laws to address immigration issues go back decades. Two notable pieces of legislation include:
- The Immigration and Nationality Act. This law, passed in 1965, puts quotas on the amount of immigrants allowed into the United States. Visas were set at 170,000 annually and further broken down per country.
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act. Passed in 1986, this law increased the budget of the Immigration and Naturalization Service for enforcement measures. The border became more militarized and use of drones, drug-sniffing dogs, National Guard soldiers and armored vehicles increased.
Have these measures been successful at controlling immigration? According to these researchers, the answer is no.
Immigration law: The reality
In reality, the number of undocumented individuals within the United States has grown four-fold from 1986 to 2008. More specifically, the number of 3 million undocumented in 1986 grew to 12 million in 2008. This growth is in spite of a twenty-fold increase in funding for the United States Border Patrol.
What's an immigrant to do?
Despite the concerning rhetoric about building a wall and deporting millions and millions of undocumented immigrants, there is hope for immigrants. Visas are available. Paths to naturalization are open.
Determining the right option for you depends on the specifics of your situation. As a result, it is often wise to seek the counsel of an experienced immigration lawyer.