An Ethical Analysis of the U.S Immigration Situation

Immigration is the process of individuals moving from one place to the other. Immigration in this context means movement of individuals from their country of origin to a foreign country, United States of America (Cornelius, 2001). When examiningimmigration ethics, it is imperativethat the discussion is based on the acknowledgement of both the immigrants and the host country’s residents. Human conditions as well as the factors that promote immigration are complex and thus discussions relating to migration should address the welfares, agendas and apprehensions of all affected individuals in collective humanity.

Immigration brings about moral dilemmas that trigger tension between individuals as well as nations. The main immigration moral dilemma is Americans right to improved lives vs. the American government’s right to safeguard the American borders. This dilemma has two alternatives, opening the borders and allowing America to be a free country or intensifying efforts aimed at curbing illegal immigration.

According to utilitarian, the ethics of an action is dictated by the greatest good produced for the number of people. In this case, the action that would create the greatest good would be for the American government to open theUnited States borders and exploit the availability of cheap labor that comes with itin order to allow the economy to flourish (North, 2015). Distributive justice on the other hand concerns the equality of the decision-making processes, and may be discriminated with the fairness in which rights of resources are distributedas well as the fairness through which wrongs are punished. In the context of distributive justice, individuals should be allowed to freely move across the countries, furthermore, resources should be distributed equally among all individuals living in the United States regardless of their country of origin, immigrants or not (North, 2015).

Over the years, the United States has been known to welcome individuals from other regions of the world.Today, people can enter the United Statesthrough various means, air, water or land. Immigrants entering the country through air and water are mostly documented since those entry points are closely monitored.This has greatly contributed to reducing illegal immigrations. However, people who enter the United Statesvia land through the New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California borders are not easy to monitor, which has increased the number of illegal immigration (Cornelius, 2001). Present policies and prevalent attitudes have also increased the number of undocumented immigrations. Individuals immigrating into the United States through land go back to pre-colonial period but with time. Majority of such migrations tend to be undocumented and their ever-rising number is increasingly becoming an issue. This paper focuses on an ethical approach in examining the current United Statesimmigration state. Thisevaluation will use utilitarianism principles and justice ethical ideologies.

Utilitarian theory focuses on the amount of positive consequences created while justice principal focuses on the social system’sintegrity, which is dictated by the process of basic rights and responsibilitiesallocation (Epstein, 1979). These theories will be used to examine whether the current United States immigration policies, practices and believes create the greatest good for the majority of people and/or if they deliver justice to every member of the society, those who immigrate and those who do not.

Theoretical discussions of the ethics of the current immigration situation are still in its infancy. Philosophies that dictate the rights of potential immigrants to cross American borders, as well as the country’s rights to deny individuals the right of entry are yet to be fully developed and understood. Some people argue that the United States has the right to protect her boundaries from unwanted immigrants. Others argue that the individuals have the right to freely cross borders and thus the United States has no moral rightto close her borders to potential immigrants. Both these arguments are based on morality. One is based on absolute deontic right to deny entry while the other is based on absolute impermissibility of closing the United States borders. However, since they advocate for conflicting solutions, this brings about an ethical dilemma.

The immigration service was established in 1981 in the effort to control immigration. The immigration service formulates policies that govern immigration in the United States In 1920, the immigration policies that were in place mainly focused on regulating entry by restraining people from given nationalities, for example, the 1882 to 1952 Chinese exclusion act disallowed Chinese immigration (Cornelius, 2001). The policies waremodified in 1920 in order to enable them to regulate the increasing immigrantswho were straining the United States economy. The amended policiesassignedimmigration quotas that placed limits on the number of immigrants allowed from each country. This modified system regulated the number of immigrants entering and settling in the United States for over 40 years. In 1965, the immigration policies were yet again amended, lifting the country-centered quotas and replacing them with hemisphere- based quotas (North, 2015). The new system encouraged immigration but it also introduced concerns that some regions were favored over others (Epstein, 1979).

As years went by,United States immigration policies evolved and became more and more constricting. Immigration policies were originally designed to housethe needy individuals in the society for instance, people who escaped persecution in their countries of origin and individuals who were seeking a better life (North, 2015).Conversely, the current policies focus on preventing such people from immigrating into the United States Policies have transformed from protecting the less fortunate to preferring the privileged individuals in the society. The current policies make acquiring a residence or a working permit a lengthy and time consuming process. The requirements, cost, amount of time required and probability of the application being rejecteddiscourage potential immigrants from seeking those documents. These restrictions are mainly because the less fortunate are needy and thus tend to drain the country’s already depleted economy while the privileged have resources that can be exploited to improve the country’s economy.

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