Immigration is a great benefit to American workers, but it can also cause problems. Compared to native-born workers, immigrants often lack the language skills and technical knowledge to work in certain occupations. The less-educated immigrant population typically takes jobs in low-skilled, manual labor-intensive occupations. This problem may not be felt as much as one might think, however. Because immigrants have better communication skills, these workers may choose to switch from these occupations into sales or personal services.
Immigrants may qualify to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs), a status that gives them rights similar to those of American citizens. There are many ways for immigrants to become LPRs, most commonly through the sponsorship of a family member or employer. Some also qualify through humanitarian programs. Once a LPR has acquired the LPR status, he or she may apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of residency.
The number of immigrants in the United States has grown rapidly in the last few decades. Since 1970, the number of people with foreign-born status has increased from a few percent to thirteen percent of the total U.S. population. That makes immigrants the largest share of the population since World War II. By 2065, some researchers estimate that 26 percent of Americans will be foreign-born.
Many immigrants face a hardship when it comes to applying for social benefits. For example, undocumented immigrants may not be able to apply for the social programs that Americans deem as a priority. However, once legal, they may receive benefits that they would not otherwise qualify for. For undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for less than five years, they may be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits.
Immigrants have made numerous contributions to American society. But the current law forces millions of them to live in the shadows, denying them full economic participation and access to basic social protections. This law harms not only unauthorized immigrants, but their families, including U.S. citizens and non-citizen legal residents. It also damages the economy as a whole.
Undocumented immigrants often leave their home countries in search of a better life. While many are seeking employment, some are seeking asylum. Many are parents of U.S.-born children. Immigration policies can be complex, but states vary widely in the treatment of these individuals. The majority of undocumented immigrants eventually become citizens and lawful permanent residents.
While there are many factors that influence immigration, one of the most significant is the cultural and social contributions made by immigrants. In addition to the economic benefits, immigrants often make American cities and communities more diverse. Their contributions range from cuisine and language to the arts. Moreover, immigration has helped shape our nation’s identity.
Legalization has also been proven to improve immigrants’ health, language skills, and education, making them more productive members of society. One study in Germany found that legalization led to improved language skills and more labor force attachment among immigrant women. In addition, a recent study found that a faster path to citizenship led to increased language skills and labor force attachment among immigrants.