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Immigration: Causes and Effects

Immigration is an act of leaving a country of permanent residence for a new country for the purpose of establishing a new settlement. Citizens of a particular country migrate to other countries mostly for political, social and economic reasons. Therefore, immigration is an ancient concept in the history of all countries and a current affair in the modern globalization. Various natural disasters caused by changing environmental conditions have led to displacement and migration of people. People also immigrate from their countries of origin, because they seek safety and protection of their human rights.

The paper is an argumentative one, and, therefore, it will try to examine immigration from historical and current dimensions. The various causes that have led to immigration of people to a particular country will be analyzed in the paper, too. It will also look into the effects of immigration in terms of where immigrants originate and how they affect countries they settle in.

Causes of Immigration

Recent reports released by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) show that there are more than 200 million migrants globally. According to research, Europe hosted the largest number of immigrants, with 70 million people in 2005.. The second largest host of immigrants was South America, with 45 million. Asia was ranked the third with more than 25 million immigrants. A report by the United Nations shows that 3% of the world population is constantly migrating from one country another, and their number is expected to rise in the future. Immigration is caused by various factors, but the main ones include social, political, environmental and economic.

Social and Economic Causes

From antiquity and up to the present, immigration has been a common practice. Unfavourable social and economic conditions were primary reasons for immigrating to another country. Slavery commonly practiced by the British government led to immigration of Africans to the United States of America and resulted in the rise of the Afro-American community. African slaves used to work on the farms and industries owned by the Britons, they facilitated reduction of cost of production, which increased profits to the royal family (Perl, 2009).

The social factors include ethnicity, religion and poverty. If a community belongs to a minority group, they may immigrate to a safer place, in case there are any community wrangles that may cause ethnic animosity. A good example is Uganda of the late 1970s where Asians were forcefully expelled by the government of Idi Amin. The religious factors include persecutions, such as those of Jews in Pakistan, which caused them to seek refuge and safety in other countries. Poverty has been a major contributing factor to immigration since antiquity and up to the present. Many people have been immigrating to countries with stronger economies and more flexible labor laws. A lot of people in developing economies experience low living standards and high poverty levels. Therefore, they immigrate to developed countries to seek better living conditions. Strategies employed by modern multinational companies have also increased immigration. The need to include expertise in running foreign branches has led to immigration of employees to these countries. Some of these employees end up seeking permanent establishment in the countries they are stationed (Murrin, et al, 2008).

Family reunification has been one of the factors that have led to immigration of people in the world. Whenever a family member immigrates to another country, he/she may seek to reunite with his/her family by helping them immigrate to that country. Dynamic and ever-changing business conditions have led to increased immigration of people around the globe. Through international business travel, businesspersons find new opportunities in other countries, which prompt them to immigrate permanently to explore these opportunities (Jonas & Thomas, 2000).

Education has been one of the leading causes of immigration in the modern world. Constantly increasing demand for better education has led people from developing countries to seek better education in the developed economies where the level of education is believed to be of higher quality. Most people seeking education opportunities in these countries end up obtaining employment or permanent settlement there. Research has shown that the majority of people in developing countries would like to obtain education in developed economies. The majority preferred the United States of America, while Great Britain was ranked the second best in terms of education and work opportunities (Morrow, 2009).

Political and Environmental Causes

The political environment of a country is a critical determinant of its inhabitation. The recent global climatic changes have led to temporary and permanent displacement of people. Politics in a given country plays an important role in determining the level of democracy in the country. The level of democracy shows respect for human rights of the citizens residing in that country. The majority of developing countries used to be dictatorial and denied their citizens basic rights and freedoms. Those who held dissenting opinions were persecuted, jailed or murdered. The oppressive rule in their countries  caused the majority of human rights activists to seek political asylum in other countries. In the 1980s and 1990s, the number of people from Kenya, Algeria, Angola and Ghana, who sought asylum in Great Britain, increased sharply. Most of these asylum seekers have never returned to their countries of origin (Perl, 2009).

Elsewhere in the world, political instability leads to fighting and internal strife. Fear for their lives and lack of respect for human rights and freedoms prompts people to immigrate to safer places where their rights are observed. A good example is civil strife in Sudan that caused many people to immigrate to other countries. Even after the situation had stabilized, the majority of the people never returned to their country, since they had gained permanent residency in other countries. The issue of environmental displacement is currently a global one due to constantly happening climatic changes. The rising sea level increased floods and drought have led to temporary and permanent displacement of people, which in turn has led to immigration of the people to safer countries (Murrin, et al, 2008).

Effects of Immigration

Immigration has various effects on both a country of origin and a recipient country. As discussed above, people move from one country to another for various reasons. Immigration causes a number of effects for both countries, including social, economic and political ones. Though the reasons that make people move to other countries are different, the consequences of immigration are almost always the same. Massive immigration is in most cases caused by wars, diseases, famine or drought. People who try to escape the above have very basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. Therefore, they are willing to provide services or do jobs that residents of a host country consider less prestigious. Some of these odd jobs may include taking care of old people, washing toilets and bathrooms, providing security at night, taking care of small children, mining and loading and unloading vehicles. Through provision of these activities by immigrants, recipient countries’ economies benefit greatly (Purcell, 1995).

Immigrants are willing to work long hours and accept low wages or salaries. Despite being exploitive, controversial and violating human rights, this is very beneficial to a recipient country’s economy. According to an economic model by Sen. Byron Dorgan, low-skilled immigrants have increased the supply of workers in the United States, thus driving down wages at the expense of working class people. The large flow of cheaper labor has substantially displaced American workers and caused many problems in the development of technologies. Jobs in the manufacturing sector have also been substantially reduced, including a drop in the the number of trade union organizations. Therefore, apart from reducing wages and lowering employment rates, immigration has far-reaching effects on the labor market. Furthermore, lack of employment caused by immigration forces some workers to engage in antisocial activities, which ultimately lands them in prison (Morrow, 2009).

Immigration has also contributed to social integration of people. Social integration sometimes brings about improvement of culture and traditions of certain groups or races. If properly accepted in a recipient country, immigrants can contribute to social diversity and greatly improve social understanding and tolerance among people. When different communities are able to integrate and leave harmoniously, it expands social network and leads to cultural development and growth. People are able to exchange ideas that contribute to development of a community and economic growth of a country. Another major benefit of immigration is an increased pool of talents in the country. Well-educated immigrants can improve productivity and increase innovations and inventions. Increased inventions and innovations have a positive impact on the production capabilities of a country. More importantly, increased productivity in a country will mean that the living standards of people improve. Increased immigration leads to an increase in population, which  labor force and leads to increased productivity (Purcell, 1995).

Negative Effects of Immigration

Negative consequences of immigration for the country of origin and the recipient country far outweigh positive ones. One of the major effects is that immigrants are exploited in a recipient country. Immigrants are taken advantage of by being given hard jobs and paid very small wages and salaries. This does not only constitute exploitation of people, but also violates human rights. People in developing countries immigrate to other countries, especially developed ones, in search of better education. Therefore, immigration has caused brain drain in developing countries (Perl, 2009).

Developing countries are seriously affected by the issue of brain drain. The governments of these countries spend a lot of money on educating students, but this has very little impact, as the knowledge is used elsewhere. The UK, for instance, is blamed for employing medical staff from developing countries. Brain drain has resulted in stagnant development in developing countries despite their heavy investment in the education and research. Immigration has led to increased crime rates, drug trafficking and corruption .Some immigrants have ill motives, while others do not have any legal ways of earning their living. For example, Somali immigrants  caused a lot of insecurity and drug-related problems in the northern part of Kenya. In some countries, local residents have a perception that immigrants and refugees are getting more benefits from the government and other non-governmental organization. These kinds of feelings have created a lot of tension and hostility among the public making them feel neglected by their own government. Local residents are, therefore, less motivated to work and not willing to pay taxes, as they believe that their government will use that money to assist immigrants. Illegal immigration can lead to negative feelings among many law-abiding citizens, who always wish to contribute to the growth of their economy (Jonas & Thomas, 2000).


In conclusion, immigration results in a lot of consequences. People immigrate for various reasons, thus causing many implications for their country of origin and a host country. Countries must come up with policies that could curb the flow of immigrants and reduce implications of immigration. Some countries have put in place strict measures to fight the implications of immigration.

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