Why Do Most People Immigrate to the U.S.?
Immigrating to the U.S. is a major decision that hundreds of thousands of people make every year. Learn why within the purview of our biggest internal issues.
The World Population Review defines immigration as a phenomenon where people move from one country, where they usually have citizenship, to another, where they don’t have citizenship.
Throughout history, there have been instances of mass migration caused by armed conflicts. Unfortunately, this has often led to the misuse of the term “immigration,” sensationalizing and distorting the conversation around the topic. Despite the damaging effects of this misuse, the trend of mass migration continues to exist. It is important to recognize that while seeking better employment opportunities and an improved quality of life are major driving factors behind immigration, individuals may also be forced to leave their homeland due to insecurity. This insecurity can arise from violent conflicts, political or social unrest, interpersonal conflict, or other specific circumstances that expose them to danger.
Do you think you have a better shot at life and work in the U.S.? Click here for an immigration law consultation at IBP Immigration Law.
Today’s blog will reveal why most people immigrate to the U.S. despite its most deep-seated internal problems.
Do Most People Immigrate to the U.S.?
The short answer: Yes.
The long answer: The United States welcomes more immigrants annually than any other country by a long margin. The nation welcomed approximately 833,900 migrants in 2021, followed by Germany, with 536,200 migrants.
While these numbers pale compared to those before the pandemic, the gap between the leading country and the runner-up speaks volumes about why people are immigrating to the U.S.
For the High Standard of Education
The United States has one of the best education systems worldwide, second only to its neighbor across the pond, the United Kingdom. The world’s top ten colleges include four from the U.S., more than enough to convince any parent or student to migrate to the U.S.
The high standard of schooling is an appealing prospect for parents who want to give their children the best shot at everything through globally accepted qualifications.
The same applies to older students who want to receive further education at a globally accepted institution to widen their horizons, increase their knowledge, and improve their professional prospects.
The American Problem: Student Debt
Every generation, from the millennials onwards, has experienced crippling student debt. While the quality of education in the U.S. is second to (almost) none, it doesn’t justify the price label most young and older adults are forced to pay off for most of their lives.
In a 2019 Congress address, comedian Hasan Minhaj talked about the plight of his generation: Approximately 45 million people were putting off marriage, family planning, and even retirement to be debt-free as soon as possible.
In 2022, a Forbes article showed a bleaker picture, reporting $1.75 trillion in federal and private student loans, with the former comprising 92% of the trillion-dollar debt. With the brief pandemic-induced reprieves running out, it’s only a matter of time before the monthly payments resume, directly impacting credit scores and housing loan prospects.
Does Student Debt Affect Migration?
While student debt is concerning, it hasn’t affected immigration significantly. There have never been more immigrant-origin students in higher education than today because the problem they or their parents faced in their origin country wasn’t student debt but access to quality education.
For Topnotch Healthcare and Medical Innovation
The World Health Organization calls the factors that decide people’s access and quality of healthcare the “Social Determinants of Health” or SDoH. The SDoH includes the following factors:
- Place of birth;
- The place where you grew up;
- Current residing country;
- Place of employment;
- Socioeconomic status;
Some countries, like Australia, have universal healthcare. Others, like the United States, have a system where healthcare coverage decides your access to medical care and certain procedures. Your place of employment often provides insurance packages.
While the healthcare systems in both countries have their ups and downs, they are unrivaled in medical innovation, recovery, and general care.
Moreover, the healthcare system in the U.S. is also an attractive career prospect for international surgeons and physicians, who make up 28% of the country’s 958,000 medical professionals.
The American Problem: Healthcare Disparity
Unfortunately, the American healthcare system isn’t immune to the disparities resulting from age-old policies. While the U.S. is a leading player in medical innovation and healthcare, one in ten African-American and differently-abled adults remain in medical debt.
Barriers to healthcare include:
- Access to rural and marginalized communities;
- Price and costs of healthcare services;
- Inadequate healthcare coverage;
- Quality issues.
Does Healthcare Disparity Affect Migration?
Healthcare disparity exists within every nation; the more marginalized, oppressed, or socioeconomically deprived a person, the lower their access to quality healthcare. That said, there is a healthcare disparity from nation to nation.
While healthcare is expensive in the United States, its quality attracts people looking to manage or treat certain conditions for which they can’t seek treatment in their home country.
Furthermore, medical professionals seek employment-based immigration sponsorship in the U.S. healthcare system because it pays better and gives them better access to immigration benefits.
For the Career Opportunities
Healthcare isn’t the only area where the U.S. sees an influx of skilled immigrants. It’s a great time to be a software developer, information security analyst, financial manager, or IT manager in the US.
These high-paying jobs are drawing employment-based green card applications from around the world. The applicants are identified and sponsored by U.S.-based employers looking for the best fit for a position from a wider talent pool.
If you have an extraordinary ability or exceptional ability that an American company could use, you can self-sponsor for a green card without a U.S. employer.
The American Problem: Wage Inequality
America’s top one percent has seen its wages jump 179.3% from 1979 to 2020. Conversely, its bottom 90% has experienced a measly jump of 28.2% during the same time frame. We live in a capitalist society, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the top 10% owns nearly 70% of the country’s wealth.
Whenever there’s an unprecedented catastrophe, such as the pandemic, it’s the 90% that is downsized so that the upper tier can keep its job, salary, or both. Look at what the chief executive officer of Qantas, Alan Joyce, did when his back was against a wall: He made sacking 6,000 workers a part of his “recovery plan.”
The wage disparity in aviation and across the board is only set to worsen as we move toward singularity and artificial intelligence drives more people out of their jobs.
Does Wage Inequality Affect Migration?
The U.S. government issues merely 140,000 employment-based green cards per year. The cap is only exacerbating its green card backlog and increasing the wait time in heavily-populated countries like India, China, and Mexico.
It’s safe to say that wage inequality isn’t deterring people from immigrating to the U.S. It all has to do with perspective.
Most skilled immigrants originate from countries where the wages aren’t regulated and thus fall below a government-ordered line. Underpaid workers are only too happy to work in the U.S., even for a minimum wage, which is likely much higher than a well-paid position in their home country.
Their perspective has benefits on the employer’s end. A 2019 study found that low- and high-skilled foreign-born workers improved wage dispersion on one end while benefiting the high-wage U.S.-born class.
For a Safe and Secure Environment
Many flee their homelands not because they want to learn or earn more but because staying in place would spell a death sentence for them. The U.S. is considered the land of the free: A place where people can have the freedom to do or be whatever they want.
Our country is attractive for religious, racial, and ethnic minorities who don’t feel safe and are frequently persecuted or deprived of fundamental rights in their home countries.
Foreign-born individuals, marginalized or otherwise, reach out to our immigration lawyer to seek asylum in the U.S. if they are being persecuted. They may also seek refuge in the U.S. if they qualify for humanitarian immigration under the Violence Against Women Act.
The American Problem: Racial Injustice
We could write volumes about the racial injustices in the United States. The social issue encompasses centuries; it came to a head in the thick of the pandemic in 2020 when the country saw its largest civil rights protests in modern U.S. history.
Everything from book bans to whitewashing historical figures to outright violence has plagued our country and fed its patterns of systemic racism. While racist thought processes aren’t intrinsically violent, they feed and spur people into violence against racial minorities.
More needs to be done—policies scrapped—on the grassroots level. Until then, we remain a work in progress where this social injustice is concerned.
Does Racial Injustice Affect Migration?
The number of refugees in the U.S. stood at 363,059 in 2021, a 7.04% increase from the previous year. The United States ranks number five among the top ten countries for asylum-seekers.
From the numbers alone, its internal social injustice problem does not seem to affect an asylum seeker’s decision to flee to the US. Although, there may be micro-trends within these generalizations influenced by the increasingly fragile national security issue.
For the Economy
In the age of inflation, the United States is considered to have one of the most stable economies in the world. As developing countries reel from the historically high inflation rates due to the geopolitical uncertainty of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, their citizens feel the need to flee their land for greener pastures in the US.
The U.S. dollar is the international trade currency, whereas its origin country has the seventh-highest average household income worldwide. Where food security is concerned, the United States ranks 13th out of 113 countries for affordability, availability, quality, and sustainability.
Thus, it’s only reasonable for skilled individuals to move to this part of the world in times of economic turmoil.
The American Problem: Lack of Affordable Housing
The lack of affordable housing is a major problem for 49% of Americans. While real estate rises, wages stay stagnant, forcing many to move to rental housing or refinance their mortgage.
The problem is so severe that no one in all 50 states could afford a lease on a two-bedroom home on a 40-hour work week, forcing locals and immigrants to double and triple their work hours or share their living space to make ends meet.
Does the Lack of Affordable Housing Affect Immigration?
Despite the growing lack of affordable housing, family-based green card petitions continue to add to the backlog. Every year, approximately 810,558 applicants apply for permanent residency via the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), hoping to be the lucky 88% to get approved.
Suffice to say; the burgeoning housing crisis is in no way stopping people from immigrating to the U.S. They are in it for a better life, and a better life is what they get once they move here permanently.
Do you want a better shot at life, education, employment, and security?
Apply for a work visa, petition for a green card through family, or undergo the citizenship application process with our immigration lawyer, Ingrid Borges Perez, Esq. If you’ve tried and been rejected by the USCIS, contact Ingrid to learn how to overcome an employment-, humanitarian-or marriage-based green card denial.
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