Antioch Law Journal


The United States has always been on the receiving end of the immigration stream. Today's immigration flow however, is markedly different from that of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Immigrants continue to come from a large variety of countries and ethnic origins, but a majority of them tend to be both poor and non-white. The flow of immigration has steadily increased since the early 1970's as international travel and communications have become more developed. Another element adding to the number of recent arrivals is the refugee crisis around the world. In some instances, the United States has perpetuated this crisis by supporting repressive regimes that produce a mass exodus of political opponents. In addition to responding to international calls for the resettlement of refugees, the United States has become a haven for people fleeing repression or civil war in the Caribbean basin and Central America. The United States has also granted asylum to many persons from Communist dominated countries. These factors contribute to the admission of both half a million legal immigrants to the United States each year and the presence of millions of undocumented aliens. The influx of immigrants takes place against a backdrop of lean economic conditions for all Americans. Inflation and unemployment rates continue to be high, while government benefits are being severely cut. Under these circumstances, newly arrived aliens are natural scapegoats for economic problems. Anti-alien sentiment creates a powerful constituency for restrictionist policies. Vote-conscious politicians are all too ready to capitalize on the myths and prejudices about the impact of immigration rather than to help develop a rational, humane and fair immigration policy.