The country now known as the United States began its history as a nation of immigrants, its first inhabitants arrived here crossing a stretch of land that connected Asia to America over thousands of years ago. The first settlements were established in 1500 by Europeans led by the Spanish and French and in 1607 the English founded the first settlement at Jamestown in Colony Virginia.
Many of the early settlers came to the country seeking religious freedom, the Pilgrims escaped religious persecution in Europe and settled in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, followed by the Puritans, who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A large portion arrived in the country under contracted servitude, or against their will under slavery. Most immigrants, however, were looking for economic opportunities.
In the 19th century, the immigration movement was central to American history. At that time the country encouraged the coming of immigrants to popular uninhabited areas and had a relatively unrestricted immigration policy until the advent of the Civil War.
Between the period 1900 to 1950 almost 24 million people immigrated to the United States in a movement known as “The Great Wave”. The advent of the First World War reduced the influx of immigrants, but it resumed with intensity after its conclusion, leading Congress to implement a series of immigration policies. Since then, US immigration policy has been expanded and restricted depending on the acting government and world policies.
The current government has the political will to welcome new immigrants and regularize the immigration status of thousands of immigrants who call the United States home, but who are on the fringes of the system because they have no status. In line with this political will, on February 2, 2021, Executive Order 14012 was enacted.
President Biden’s Executive Order 14012 aims to restore confidence in the US immigration system and strengthen integration and inclusion for New Americans. The Executive Order recognizes the strength and importance of immigrants in the American economy and seeks to ensure that the country’s domestic laws and policies promote the integration, inclusion and citizenship of these individuals, more specifically, the measure stipulates that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ) “identify any agency action that fails to promote access to the legal immigration system.”
Executive Order 14012 states in its first paragraph that more than 40 million foreigners live in the United States today and thousands of Americans are of foreign descent. It then recognizes that new Americans and their families fuel the American economy in all segments of industry through their entrepreneurship, creating millions of jobs and contributing to the country’s art, culture and diversity.
The current administration recognizes the important role of immigrants in American society, both economically and culturally, and seeks to encourage public measures that demonstrate such recognition. However, it is crucial to understand that there is a fundamental difference between welcoming immigrants and granting with the violation of immigration laws. In this way, the current government is looking for ways to welcome new Americans through changes in internal policies, proposed laws and enactment of decree and continues to correctly apply the immigration law and its consequences for those who violate them and/or try to circumvent them.
In the words of President Biden, “Consistent with our Nation of opportunity and welcome, it is essential to ensure that our laws and policies encourage participation by immigrants, including refugees, in our civic life.” The proposal is that the federal government develop strategies to promote the integration, inclusion, and citizenship of immigrants in order to welcome the full participation of new Americans in this nation’s democracy, and not be permissive with those who behave contrary to the law.