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Immigration to the United States of America

Immigration is entering a country and settling there. Immigration in some countries and cultures is uncontroversial; however, most countries attempt to regulate immigration in one manner or another.

Immigration to the United States of America In the United States of America, immigration rules often have been imposed as an ostensibly protectionist measure when the nation's economy has experienced a downturn. However, close analysis of the underlying reasoning behind rules reveals that in many cases, the true reason has been to "keep the riffraff out", with supporters ignoring the fact that immigration has traditionally been highest during times of economic growth for the United States.

For example, early immigration laws prevented Asians and Africans from entering the USA legally (except as chattel in the latter case). For most Europeans, however, immigration was relatively free and unrestricted until the 1800s and the onset of the Industrial Revolution. The first laws restricted immigration by those who were not of Western European descent; later, as more Eastern European immigrants arrived and assimilated into American culture, laws restricting their numbers permitted to immigrate were eased. Historically, as various waves of immigrants settled in the United States and assimilated, rules regarding their cultural groups' entrance into the USA were eased.

Today, immigration is theoretically open to all persons not guilty of felonies or other serious crimes. In actuality, a geopolitically-based quota system[?] governs how many persons from each part of the world are permitted to settle permanently, with a lottery open to all comers for unused quota slots. (There are also additional complications to the system not discussed here.)

One consequence of laws restricting the number and ethnicity of persons entering the USA is a phenomenon referred to as illegal immigration, in which persons enter a country and obtain work without legal sanction. In some cases, this is accomplished by entering the country legally with a visa, and then simply choosing not to leave upon expiration of the visa. In other cases - most notoriously Mexicans in the USA without legal sanction - people enter the country surreptitiously without ever obtaining a visa. Often, people entering in this fashion are economic refugees - a class of refugee not recognized by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States; these persons have left their home country in a desperate bid to provide financial support for themselves and/or their families. This is particularly true in cases where "minimum wage" in the US is several times what the average laborer earns in a given country; such immigrants often send large portions of their income to their countries and families of origin.

Immigration, including illegal immigration, is largely driven by economic considerations. It is also a by-product of globalization.

In contrast to economic refugees, who are not generally granted legal admission, other classes of refugees can and do enter the United States (in a manner that technically is) illegally, but are then granted legal status through a process of seeking and receiving asylum. For the most part, such persons are fleeing warfare; escaping persecution based on political or religious beliefs; or are victims of torture in their countries of origin. Some asylum cases have been also granted based on sexual orientation or gender, where cultural norms of the home country create and sustain conditions that make life unsafe or unbearable for the individual.

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