Moving to America
Immigration to the United States
The United States of America is known around the world as a great land of opportunity and liberty, which is why when a US citizen goes abroad their blue US passport is honored almost anywhere. In its conception by the founding fathers the United States was meant to be a place for which immigrants could immigrate to and live in the most fair and just society imaginable. A citizen of the United States of America is entitled to their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as stated in the declaration of independence. It is one of the few countries in the world where a citizen can fully publicly display their outright distaste for the country they live in without fear of persecution by the state that they are criticizing.
The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave
The United States of America is seen as a beacon of hope and a place where one can practice their beliefs as long as those beliefs do not infringe on the rights of others. Depending on the various local and state laws certain things are permissible in certain jurisdictions whereas they may be illegal in others. The Idea of the founding fathers in having separate states is that each and every state is supposed to have its own right to practice and manage their own experiment in democracy. Although there are certain over reaching federal laws, each state has the right to decide how to run their state and what laws and regulations are necessary to protect and secure its citizens. Quite simply if a citizen does not like how the state they are living in is implementing certain policies it is possible to move to another state without the need for a US passport. Once they have moved to a new locale, different laws and policies are upheld.
With all of these opportunities and freedoms within the borders it is necessary to have a governing body that controls the movement of foreigners in and out of the country.
The Department of Homeland Security and Their Role in Immigration
The United States Department of Homeland Security oversees customs as well as US border patrol to control and process the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country. The cabinet position was created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; its mission is to protect the United States from threats found within and along its borders. To complete this task the Department of Homeland Security absorbed the INS (immigration and Naturalization Service) in 2003 and split it into two new agencies, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Citizenship and Immigrations Services (CIS).
ICE handles the footwork such as fulfilling the role of US border patrol and US customs; they manage the actual borders and enforcement of immigration laws. As the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security it is their duty to manage the US border patrol as well as address issues involving immigration violations such as cases of overstaying foreign nationals, and those with expired or incorrectly filed visas or permits, ICE is also responsible for deporting foreign nationals that have violated their visa agreements as well as foreign nationals who are illegal aliens residing in the country unlawfully. US customs and border patrol are under the control of ICE and control the movement of more than just foreign nationals, but the goods as well. This tremendous task includes the inspection of incoming goods at ports which must be searched for illegal goods such as drugs, weapons and counterfeit goods.
The CIS handles the paperwork of immigration and bureaucratic aspects of the service. The CIS is responsible for examining and approving visas requested by foreign nationals as well as the naturalization of residing foreign nationals that wish to become American citizens. It is a misconception that the CIS renews and handles the issuance of the US passport.
US Customs and Border Patrol
As discussed above The US customs and border patrol are under the responsibility of the US Department of Homeland Security, they are responsible for everything that enters the country including foreign nationals and goods. Customs checks incoming goods for their place of origin and implement any taxes necessary for the importation of such goods. Customs is also responsible for checking for contraband items such as drugs, weapons and certain agricultural products. It is necessary for customs to search for certain agricultural products due to the damage that tainted or diseased fruits, vegetables and other perishable produce pose to domestic agricultural products. The spread of diseases in humans, livestock, and agriculture is one of the main concerns of customs as they are the first line of defense against such problems. Customs is the United States’ first line of defense against an epidemic or pandemic. US customs operates in all ports of entry in the country including international airports, traditional shipping ports, as well as the physical borders.
The US border patrol is assigned to fulfill a similar role as US customs; however they are confined to working on the physical borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. Patrolling the thousands of miles of border between Mexico and the US as well as Canada and the US, is a monumental task. It is the border patrol’s duty to patrol these areas for incoming illegal aliens as well as contraband that is being smuggled into the country. Although the description of their purpose is quite simple the actual implementation is the truly difficult task.
Why are the Immigration Laws so Strict?
Due to the number of foreign nationals around the globe that wish to travel to the United States of America, it is necessary to properly screen applicants for their reasons for entering the country. These applicants must be screened for diseases that may be endemic to their country, checked for their political affiliations to anti-American groups, and a background check is also in order to check for any crimes that they may have committed. There are many different visas that a foreign national can apply for; each has its own limitations on residence within the country. Although the United States is the land of opportunity not just anyone can enter due to the logistical problems of a large influx of immigrants. The welfare of the current citizens of the United States is the first concern of the Department of Homeland Security and its other enforcing bodies such as US customs and border patrol. The danger of allowing foreign nationals to enter the country without proper screening can lead to a massive epidemic if one of those people are carrying a highly contagious disease. At worst an unscreened foreign national bringing an endemic disease from the country they wish to emigrate from may introduce a new disease into the country which will negatively affect the residing American citizens. Proper screening is also necessary to fulfill another role of the Department of Homeland Security, which is to weed out the undesirables such as repeat criminal offenders and terrorists that can pose a direct threat to the freedoms and liberties of the American people.
Almost every country has an American embassy where foreign nationals can apply for visas. In the event that a foreign national does not have access to an American embassy applications can be sent through the mail or the CIS website can be visited for details on how to apply. For people seeking political asylum or refuge they can be granted permission to enter the country but will need to be quarantined and screened for the validity of their claims.