Boarder Security and Illegal Immigration

Nations define themselves to the world through the immigration policies they implement. The United States has one of the highest immigrant population and also one of the most visited countries on earth. Based on hundreds of years of immigration, the United States has managed to accumulate a large and diversified population of immigrant that has worked positively for the most part in fueling its growth. Earlier, the American immigration policy for most of the 19th and 20th century was incredibly racist as it sought to reduce immigration from non-white regions of Asia and Africa. This saw creation of policies that were racist, such as the Chinese exclusion act among others, that sought to bar members of certain races from becoming part of United States of America. But with the development of democracy and policies that favor globalization, United States assumed the nature of “freedom” and created policies that defined America as the land of the free. This consequently saw great strides in development of life and political freedoms that attracted people into the United States. At the same time, its role of world “police” or “watchdog” that sought to create an American ideology in a number of countries created more enemies that resulted in the 9/11 terrorist bombings in retaliation. This resulted in the creation of Homeland security and the Department of Homeland Security. The department is responsible for border security, immigration, custom, collect intelligence and protect the homeland from attacks from within and without. With more funding for implementation and policy formulation by both state assemblies and congress, the department of homeland security in conjunction with other federal and state law enforcement agencies such as FBI, CBP, State and Federal police . Immigration could be monitored and controlled to essentially only people escaping from persecution and death.

One of the key factors that makes immigration even harder to deal with is the fact that the United States has been further divided into 50 semi-autonomous states. These states have been granted the powers to further make their own laws and regulations and support either side of the party that their populace ideology lie. According to Armenta, “State and local governments continue to pass laws that regulate the lives of immigrants, blurring the boundaries between controlling immigrants and controlling immigration” (2017). There are several factors that have contributed to the politicization of the immigration debate and failure to agree on one immigration policy within the United States. To understand this contextualization of the subject at hand is important. While the federal government holds exclusive rights on matters about immigration, states have continually interfered and adopted mixtures of policies that either favor or oppose immigration to some degree. Immigrants coming to the United States, come seeking jobs and in most cases, they are willing to work for less compared to the natives. This forces most employers to turn a blind eye on immigration. Nonetheless, America is a white majority nation and with the increasing number of immigrants being of an alternative race, jitters have begun to crop up that the white population is being displaced. According to Armenta, “concerns about “undesirable” newcomers—convicts, the poor, the infirm, and those from groups considered to be “racially inferior”. (2017). As such the white majority population in most border states especially with Mexico to the south, have become more inclined to right wing ideologies since it speaks of their fears. In liberal states, immigration is viewed differently.

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Most liberal states in the United States of America have a modern outgoing population that is open to less conservative ideologies. Additionally, have a larger number of diversified groups of people who sway public opinion to favor immigration. Furthermore, according to the International Immigration Review, “public opinion in liberal democracies is slower to mobilize and crystallize, and more indifferent if not more favorable to immigration” (Freeman). The result is stark difference in opinions between the right and the left wing which causes a stalemate in all areas of government. The Wall as a means to handle immigration is not adequate, neither is separations of families and detaining people at the border as this does not guarantee stopping the flow of people from various parts of the world into America. According to Nazario, the Honduran violence reduction program that involve direct consultation and participation between the United States and the Honduran state in capturing gang members terrorizing people cost over $ 100 million (2017). This is a small amount compared to the amount the wall, CBP and all other agencies such as homeland are allocated and it did a lot more to significantly reduce immigration. According to researchers, “Border enforcement cost a staggering $19.4 billion in 2016, and […] studies show 97% of border-crossers who try repeatedly do get in. Current estimates are that taxpayers […] will shell out $12 billion to $66.9 billion if President Trump’s barrier is built at the U.S.-Mexico border” (Nazario, 2017). Therefore, the first solution would be to implement programs that work with foreign government and law enforcement in unstable countries to help eradicate violence and corruption. This will go a long way in providing security for people and reducing the number of people who may want to live for safer countries such as America and also cost significantly less.

Controlling immigration and enforcement of stricter border rules with respect to purpose of entry and country of origin can go a long way in reducing external terrorism threats brought about by the immigrants. Granted, not all immigrants who come to the border are terrorist only a few. An empirical research conducted stated that, “that foreign-born terrorist suspects who enter the United States, either as immigrants or tourists, do not necessarily become high security risks” (Choi 2018). Meaning that majority of the immigrants who came to the United States did not harbor ill motives and the reduction in potential threat from immigrant was largely due to better policing at the border and increased surveillance on classified security risk individuals. Choi identifies that immigration at the border has been improved greatly due to the various divisions set up to coordinate background check on immigrants and divide them based on their needs for immigration. Some of the policies may not be humanitarian based but they work adequately and have been used by both administrations to deter insecurity from immigrants into the United States. Restrictive immigration policies exert pressure on terrorism since they reduce the loop holes available for terrorists to exploit.  According to Choi, these policies work, “By imposing strict border regulations states may be better able to keep out known, suspected, or potential terrorists from their countries” (2018). Some of the restriction created divide immigrants based on their nationality, skills they possess, quotas of immigrant from each individual country, outside recruitment of people directly into the nation’s labor market to encourage people to use the existing platforms for immigration. Also, setting up refugee and asylum policies to create room for genuine refugees and people being persecuted, family reunification programs. Finally Choi identifies that immigration laws and citizenship laws could be put in place to guide and deter immigration by outlining the rights of the immigrants and the citizens. Finally deportation of immigrants after a criminal act and foundation of a common database across all enforcers to prevent a recurrence of immigration by the criminal again into the country. All state and federal agency should also be set up to work as a team to prevent divisions caused by politics. Nonetheless, Choi identifies through empirical research that more restrictive policies while effective in the short term, fail to be  useful in the long run. According to Choi, “Democracies are expected to experience more terrorist attacks than autocracies on the grounds that they allow more freedom of expression and movement” (2018). This is why necessarily intelligence gathering and more autonomy should be given towards these agencies for them to adequately perform their duties. According to Gorman et al., the “key to border security is better intelligence and that improving intelligence-sharing within and among border-control and law-enforcement agencies” (2002). Various other liberties must be given up such as the classifying citizens as terrorists to allow lesser rights to high security threat individual within a country. According to Political Behaviour Journal, the reasons why most immigration policies have been relatively effective in democracies across the world is because they shifted their perspectives on immigration. The Article states that the “perceptions of security and threat influence political rhetoric and alignments. […]. The so-called ‘securitization of migration’ discourse […] strengthened previous associations between immigration, crime, law-and-order, and security” (Lahav and Courtemanche, 2008). This political leeway allowed democracies to establish minimal dictatorial powers suspended freedoms for terrorist within their soil thus control terrorism. 

State and Federal laws play an important role of making laws and policies that govern immigration. While the United States has alway been considered a nation of immigrants; economic growth, diversification, greater democratic rights and respect for freedom has seen increased number of immigrant from nations that are not predominantly white which has thus resulted in an increased opposition from the larger white community. At the same time, some immigrants bring new security threats, based on their ideologies, to the homeland hindering development and people’s right to associate and speak openly. Task forces and agencies such as Homeland security, Cross Border Patrol, National Guard (Military), State and County police and the FBI have all been formulated to control immigration. But with the rising divide in ideologies implementation of political-free policies has become harder. While restrive policies have worked in the short term they fail to deal with terrorism and immigration. Various researchers suggest that the best way to address immigration and its link to terrorism, is collect more intelligence and implement policies that seek to stem out instability from the countries of origin. This means working directly from the source of the problem to create peace and prevent displacement of people.

Works Cited

Armenta, Amada. Protect, Serve, And Deport. 2017. Print.

Bill, Swindell. “Dems Must Pick Point Person Before Immigration Debate.” Academic Search Complete. N.p., 2006. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.

Choi, Seung- Whan. “Does Restrictive Immigration Policy Reduce Terrorism In Western Democracies?.” Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 12,.No. 4 (2018): n. pag. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.

Freeman, Gary P. “Modes Of Immigration Politics In Liberal Democratic States.” International Migration Review 29.4 (1995): 881. Web.

Gorman et al. “Preventing New Attacks.” National Journal, 03604217, Vol. 34,.Issue 32 (2002): n. pag. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.

Lahav, Gallya, and Marie Courtemanche. “The Ideological Effects of Framing Threat on Immigration and Civil Liberties.” Political Behavior, vol. 34, no. 3, 2008, pp. 477-505.Nazario, Sonia. “How To Secure The Border. Spoiler Alert: A Wall Won’t Do It.” Latimes.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.

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