Exploratory Essay: The American Dream


Over 900, 000 legal immigrants are admitted into the United States of America every year. This is an increase of 300,000 from the previous 600,000 immigrants that used to be admitted in the 1980s. The US government advertises applications for the Green Card lottery starting from around October to November every year and receives millions of applicants, all with the hope to get the chance to become American citizens. But why do foreigners want to become American citizens so bad?  In most cases, immigrants would give reasons such as family reunification, humanitarian interest, skills, and search for greener pastures. What is it about the US that lures such huge numbers of foreigners? Some even risk it all to move in illegally. On the other hand, why does the US government want foreigners to come into the country? Studies indicate that immigrants are good sources of labor because they have good skills that the country needs. They also work hard to improve the country’s economy. Are there any critics of the idea of immigrants moving into the US and in what ways do immigrants impact on the US economy? These questions caught my attention because in July of this year, there was delays on the release of the names of successful applicants for the US Green Card. Various reasons were given including computer errors and the like. Similarly, there were complaints from applicants who were concerned about the delays.

In order to answer my questions, I began my research by looking at news sources and later conducted research in scholarly journals and books. Lastly, I conducted an in-depth interview with an officer in the immigration department by the name Gordon Edwards. All these sources provided me with enough background information about my research questions. I also got to understand my topic much better. Even though I did not get satisfying answers to all my research questions, I was able to narrow my subject for my next assignment which will address solutions to the problems.

My first source was the CNN news website. In an article by Carol Cratty published on October 27, 2011, she reports that the Homeland chief announced that the feds will not help Alabama in the implementation of its immigration law. The CNN is a reliable source of in-depth news with internationals standards. It has renowned journalists and host reliable discussions on various issues across the social spectrum. I also looked at a book by Julia Geigenberger, “The lasting value of legal immigration for the United States of America.” This book provided me with information on the economic, social and political benefits of legal immigration into the country. Another scholarly article I looked at was Douglas Massey’s “The new immigration and ethnicity in the United States.” The article provided me with data and perspectives of the state of immigration in the country. Massey also provided some historical background on the state of immigration in relation to other countries like Russia and Canada.

In her article, Cratty indicates that the Secretary Janet Napolito stated that her department was working in collaboration with the Department of Justice to ensure that the new controversial immigration law by the state of Alabama did not go through. She argues that Hispanic families will be much affected by the law because they will be required to show their identification documents everywhere they go. The Alabama law requires the police to check the identification records of any individual they suspect to be an illegal immigrant including school going children in the public schools. In the same article, the author alleges that Tim Griffins told Napolitano that states like Arizona and Alabama were passing stiff immigration laws of their own because the government was unable to secure the borders of the nation. He claimed that the previous Republicans and current administration have both failed in the area. Although it was not clear whether the security at the border was getting worse, records from the Customs and Border Protection indicated a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants from 2006 to 2010. Napolitano stated that most of the information about border security was inaccurate but also acknowledged that most states are making their own laws because the state had failed.

Cratty’s article from the CNN website demonstrated how the immigration policy is very controversial. It proves the point that there are so many foreigners who come into the country illegally. It also shows that not everyone is happy with the introduction of immigrants into the country, either illegally or legally. The author also demonstrates that there are a number of critics of the immigration policy and would do everything at their disposal to stop this trend. In fact most of them believe that the country has failed to protect its borders. However, this source did not provide information on why most foreigners move to the US.

I sought to move to Geigenberger’s books for more insight. She explains that the US has always been a country of immigrants. She alleges that over 20 million foreigners have been admitted legally into the US as permanent residents. The immigration policy aims at fulfilling several purposes. Other than the economic goal that aims at increasing the country’s productivity and standards of living, the immigration policy also serves to promote the diversity of the country’s population. It also promotes the political goal of maintaining a stable democracy. However, she also agrees that the immigration policy has become one of the most controversial policies. Nonetheless, she confirms that immigration could only be beneficial to the country if there were good policies. Concerns have been raised about the US immigration policy.

Geigenberger confirms that America has been attracting immigrants since way back. He explains that a population of 20 million foreigners has been legally registered as permanent American citizens. This number is less than that of illegal immigrants. His argument proves the point that American has attracted so many foreigners for various reasons. In addition, the author indicates that the immigration policy seeks to provide social, economic and political benefits to the country.  However, I did not get satisfying remarks on whatever it is that the country has that attract most foreigners.

In Massey’s article, she indicates that there has been an immense transformation of immigration in the country. The author alleges that some people are worried about the economic effects of immigrants. However, he adds that quantitative analysis has indicated that immigrants handle different occupations from the Native Americans and there was no competition for jobs. In addition, he also indicates that immigrants are hard working and have helped boost the economy. Some people might be worried about the social effects of immigrants but studies also indicate that apart from some refugees, immigrants do not over-utilize the resources of the country.  There have been concerns over language fragmentation as a result of intense immigration but studies have indicated that most immigrants shift to English and forget about their native languages and this should not affect the English language.

The author alleges that some politicians have discovered the political mileage they could gain by blaming the current economic and social problem in the country to immigration. He argues that politicians overlook the facts about immigration and instead play politics to win the support of the public. However, he agrees that the racial and ethnic composition of the US is changing and Native Americans will soon become a minority.

Massey confirms that most people are worried about the effects of foreigner on the country. For instance, concerns about language fragmentation have been raised but researchers argue that foreigners abandon their languages to take up English. However, the pronunciation of English terms by other Ethnic communities tends to distort English words. In addition, the idea of over utilization of resources is dealt with which could impact on the economic and political conditions in the country. However, qualitative research demonstrates that foreigners do not over use resources. On the contrary, they help in the formation of more resources by offering their skills in various fields.

Massey did not however indicate the kind of jobs foreigners occupy to improve the country’s economy. In addition it is not clear whether or not the US government really wants foreigners to come to the country of they are just doing it to help their development partners and friends. The immigration officer was the best person to give more insight into this issue. He indicated that most foreigners are expressing interest towards coming to the US. He argues that the number of applicants for the US Green Card lottery has been increasing every year. Edwards alleges that during their interviews with applicants, most of them state their need to find better paying jobs and better learning opportunities to improve their families’ living standards. However, he argues that unlike in the previous years where successful applicants used to be given accommodation and a starting job, current winners of the lottery do not get such benefits. They are required to have a guardian whom they can stay with when they move to the US. However, most applicants opt to join occupations such as nursing, and the military upon moving to the US. These are jobs that not most Native Americans take up and therefore the immigrants are important sources of skilled labor in such occupations.

Edwards also explained that some of the legal foreigners are even serving in Iraq and have been very helpful in maintaining security in the country. In addition, some of them represent the country in sports such as Athletics. In the long run, they bring much pride to the country. This source was relatively insightful and enabled me to understand much better how the country benefits from the legal immigrants. For instance, I was not aware that legal immigrants are serving in the Iraq mission. The military is made up of very brave Americans who sacrifice their lives for the country. If foreigners can take up such jobs, they must be willing to protect their new country.
However, none of the sources I used clearly demonstrated why some people like the Alabama Republicans are against the immigration policy. Most researchers argued that there was no cause for alarm because immigrants take up jobs that Americans avoid. However, the same resources used by the immigrants are used by the Native Americans. I would have wished to understand why researchers indicate that there was no competition when the resources are similar.


In the essay, my main objective was to understand why many foreigners want to move to the United States of America. Some of the reasons provided by immigrants include humanitarian issues and search for a better life. I also wanted to understand why the country wants more foreigners to come and leave their countries of origin. It has been demonstrated that the country gets skilled laborers from the foreigners in jobs such as nursing and the military. This helps to maintain the country’s security and healthcare. However, I did not find answers to the reasons as to why the government wants foreigners to immigrate into the country when there were Americans who can take up various kinds of jobs. In addition, immigration has been alleged to contribute to other social problems such as forced labor, human trafficking, drug abuse and prostitution. None of the sources seemed to explain such issues. Has it ever occurred to the government what the country would be like if the 20 million legal foreigners were never in the country and their jobs were taken by Native Americans? These are questions for my next study.