Families immigrate to the United States looking for many reasons, but they are primarily motivated to give themselves more opportunity and try to better life for the generations to come (PBS). For centuries, many families have hoped to immigrate to the United States and the country itself is built on European immigrants (MPI). Today, the country sees an influx of Latin American and Asian immigrants (Zong). The familial relocation forces a change of scenery that initially can cause stress for parents and children alike, particularly on the children. But in the grand scheme of things, the adults in the family migrate in the best interest of the whole family. If there is already family in the United States, the family reunification visa provides a great way for families to gain a boost and have connections and support in a time that is stressful for anyone moving. However, when the first family member immigrates to a new country, it is extremely hard to put down roots in a place where they have no connections and have to work long hours to make ends meet with the pressure of carving out a place in the community for the rest of the family when the timing is right. When immigrants come into the country looking for work, they improve local economies by plugging into places that are generally deprived of workers (Anderson). Despite the negative psychological impact of moving for young children, keeping families together and allowing families to relocate together is better for the families and the local economy.
The psychological effects of moving can be enormous, especially when immigrating to a new country (Kershaw). When moving, the mover has to figure out what to bring and what to leave behind in their country. This search through the past, digging through heirlooms, photos and other meaningful things around the house can be difficult psychologically for adults who have lived their entire life and are getting ready to start anew (Kershaw). Even though the thought of a more prosperous future, either economic, familial or social, can be exciting, it also brings about high levels of anxiety because of the types of jobs they work: most commonly working-class jobs in the textile, agriculture and construction industries (Blanco) in order to provide immediate financial stability. These jobs are very labor intensive and can be exhausting for the workers who are still trying to settle into a new country but are easy to find. The difficulties surrounding relocation are significant when moving to another country, and psychologically it can be very difficult on an immigrant.
In particular, children moving to a new country will have more psychological and social difficulties entering into a new community. The difficulties for children moving from a new country are different from those of the adults. Children are still developing, and their experiences will be vastly different as a result of their environment when they are growing up. Psychologically, moving homes can have a bad effect on a child, and will likely “increase [the child’s] internalizing behavior” (Rumbold), which could make them more introverted and stunt their social growth. Socially, children of immigrants are already at a disadvantage in relation to their peers who have not moved to a new country and started a new life. However, if they have a language barrier to overcome, as many children of immigrants do, it becomes even more difficult. In American, those students are placed into English as a Second or Other Language (ESL) programs in public schools, which not only teach English, but also the necessary subjects that the other students are learning. But these programs are not effective, and “educational outcomes measured by way of dropout, failure, and low achievement on standardized tests all suggest that for some reason ESL learners do not benefit from ESL programming” (Roessingh). Without a major overhaul of the ESL system, the students won’t be getting the education they need. Even if the child speaks English proficiently, there are over social issues that the child will have to overcome in the community or in school. Children who look different can be stereotyped and other students may not be accepting of immigrant children. Because “children [are] able to infer… stereotypes before they are aware of broadly held stereotypes” (Mckown), this can lead to assumptions about background that will affect how the children being stereotyped are treated in school and other social settings and could make it more difficult for immigrant children to make friends and socialize with their peers. While adults will normally make decisions in the child’s best interest, if the child must change communities as they are developing, they are at higher risk for being hampered psychologically and socially.
By moving on a family-based visa or a family-reunification visa from the government, the resources that families need for residence, employment and education are more easily obtainable (AIC). Family-based immigration, where families immigrate based on having another family member already in the United States as a citizen or on a green card, is contrasted by merit-based immigration. While merit-based immigration does bring over the most qualified workers, it is not what’s best for the economy or for the immigrants. Immigrants coming to the United States on family visas “have become the most upwardly mobile of American workers” (AIC), which allows them to go to work and to improve their economic standing. With the increased chance at opportunity, the family that has immigrated will be better off. These programs help families with one member already in the United States who is working to build a place for their family.
For some families, bringing the whole family is not economically feasible at the time, so one adult will get sent to the United States to try to carve out a place for the rest of the family. The immigrant won’t benefit from the connections that come from immigrating as a family, through a spouse or a school, and generally must work long hours to provide for themselves first and foremost, and then hope they have something extra to save and send back to their family to bring them over eventually. Although this may be a rough beginning in a new country, the benefits of family-based immigration that the family will experience post-move outweigh the drawbacks. Often times immigrants move to neighborhoods with other people from their country, which makes it easier for them to make social connections to get their new life started. Immigrating ahead of a family can be difficult, working long hours and not getting to see family for years. However, it is beneficial in the end because of family-based immigration that leads to increased connections upon arrival and a boost in social mobility (AIC).
As more families of immigrants come to the United States, they are in fact improving the economy by taking jobs in places where there is need for workers and boosting the maximum capacity of the economy. In addition, immigrants are becoming better educated (The Economist), which leads to higher salaries beyond high school and college. The benefits of bringing immigrants into the country are enormous. When immigration occurs, they search for work in order to establish roots in their new country. “When immigrants enter the labor force, they increase the productive capacity of the economy and raise GDP” (Orrenius) in a method known as ‘immigration surplus’, which shares GDP and allows the incomes of everyone in the affected region to increase slightly. In addition to improving the overall economy, immigrants generally flow into areas that are in need of jobs (Orrenius), providing these economies with the boost they need to stop the bleeding and even improve. With the economy is benefitting from immigrants and the increased education of immigrants, not only are the families better off economically, but so is the entire United States economy.
Immigration has been key to life in America since its creation. By crossing the Atlantic people thought they would have a better life than they did back home. Now as immigration primarily comes from Latin America, the opportunity is still there (The Economist). The difficulties of relocating a family can hit hard in a new country. Yet these difficulties do not stop families from coming over to the United States to try to improve their quality of life. The family-reuniting visa allows each family greater opportunity when arriving to the United States. This increased opportunity takes the shape of education, solid employment and a community to help them, and through that immigrants are able to improve their lives as well as the overall potential of the country’s economy. Even though it can be hard for children to continue their childhood in a foreign country, there are a number of benefits to keeping the families together as they immigrate to the United States in an attempt to better their lives and start anew in another country.
Zong, Jie, et al. “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States.” Migrationpolicy.org, MPI, 27 Feb. 2018, www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states.
Blanco, Octavio. “Immigrant Workers Are Most Likely to Have These Jobs.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 16 Mar. 2017, money.cnn.com/2017/03/16/news/economy/immigrant-workers-jobs/index.html.
Rumbold, Alice R, et al. “The Effects of House Moves during Early Childhood on Child Mental Health at Age 9â‰Years.” BMC Public Health, vol. 12, no. 1, 1 Aug. 2012.
Roessingh, Hetty. “Effective High School ESL Programs: A Synthesis and Meta-Analysis.” Canadian Modern Language Review, vol. 60, no. 5, 2004, pp. 611–636.
Mckown, Clark, and Michael J. Strambler. “Developmental Antecedents and Social and Academic Consequences of Stereotype-Consciousness in Middle Childhood.” Child Development, vol. 80, no. 6, 2009, pp. 1643–1659.
Orrenius, Pia. “Benefits of Immigration Outweigh the Costs.” Benefits of Immigration Outweigh the Costs, 2016, www.bushcenter.org/catalyst/north-american-century/benefits-of-immigration-outweigh-costs.html.
“Destination America.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 2005, www.pbs.org/destinationamerica/usim_wy.html.
Migration Policy Institute (MPI). “U.S. Immigrant Population and Share over Time, 1850-Present.” Migrationpolicy.org, 6 Jan. 2018, www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/immigrant-population-over-time.
Anderson, Stuart. “3 Reasons Why Immigrants Are Key To Economic Growth.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Oct. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2016/10/02/3-reasons-why-immigrants-key-to-economic-growth/#1ad6e2017dab.
Kershaw, Sarah. “The Psychology of Moving.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Feb. 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/realestate/28cov.html.
“The Advantages of Family-Based Immigration.” American Immigration Council (AIC), American Immigration Council, 14 Mar. 2013, www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/advantages-family-based-immigration.
“Immigrants to America Are Better Educated than Ever Before.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 8 June 2017, www.economist.com/news/united-states/21723108-far-being-low-skilled-half-all-legal-migrants-have-college-degrees-immigrants.