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What is the Purpose of Immigration Laws

Abhijit Naik Aug 23, 2020
'To control the influx of people in the country' will be your prompt reply if somebody were to ask you why immigration laws are constituted. However, there is lot more to this question than this single line answer as one has to also understand why the influx of migrants is bad for the nation.
Migration is no doubt an inevitable phenomenon. Even the basic rule of migration states that the vacuum created in place B as a result of an individual moving from place B to place A is eventually filled by a person moving in from place C. While reasons for immigration exist in plenty, 'better opportunities' is one of the most powerful force which brings in migrants in large numbers to developed and developing nations alike.
Even these countries welcome immigrants who act as a workforce and add to the development of the country. However, one also has to take into consideration that there do exist some negatives of this process, which, if not curtailed, can take a toll on the nation as a whole. This is exactly where the immigration laws of a nation come into the picture.

Why Does a Nation Need Immigration Laws?

In a broad sense, 'immigration laws' refer to government policies which are constituted to keep a check on immigrants entering the country. The concept is closely related to the national law which stipulates the guidelines for the citizenship and security of the said country.
While these laws tend to differ from one country to another - with some countries resorting to stricter guidelines for the entry of an alien as well as his behavior within the country, the underlying objectives tend to be more or less the same in almost all the cases. Discussed below are these very objectives of immigration laws that will give a better idea about the need of implementing them.

National Security

The security of a country happens to be one of the most prominent reason as to why countries need to monitor the influx of migrants nowadays. Global terrorism is no more a hypothetical term, with the recent terrorist attacks in powerful countries like the United States, United Kingdom and India raising some serious questions about national security in these countries.
In the United States of America, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 lays the guidelines for the entry of aliens in the United States. Since it came into existence in 1952, the same has gone through several changes - the most important of which came in response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Keep a Check on the Crime Rate

Crime rate is yet another important factor which makes immigration laws all the more important - in this case for the security of the citizens of the said country. Several countries - including the United States of America and Canada, legally restrict the entry of people with criminal background.
At the same time, they also have deportation laws in place to deport those aliens who are convicted for some criminal activity. It isn't surprising that illegal immigration from across the US-Mexican border is believed to be one of the major factors for increasing crime rate in the United States.

Control the Spread of Diseases

Other than keeping anti-social elements off the territorial borders, immigration laws also help to keep a check on spread of diseases. One of the best examples is the recent outbreak of swine flu which forced many countries to shut doors for people from countries wherein the disease had reached epidemic proportion.
Whilst going through the history, you come across references which state that the entry for immigrants with contagious diseases and mental disorders was prohibited in the country in the past.
While the clause of restricting people suffering from contagious diseases continues to stay in the new immigration laws of several countries today, the same in reference to mental disorders has been bumped off.
Other than all these factors mentioned above, factors - such as employment and allocation of resources, which form the basis of the economy, also have to be taken into consideration when discussing the purpose of immigration policy.
It's but obvious that influx of migrants - especially when the job opportunities are limited, can fuel the unemployment rate in the country.
At the same time, unrestricted influx can also put tremendous pressure on resources - both natural and economic, and create a state of chaos in a country.
That being said, it is the administration's responsibility to make necessary changes in immigration law with time in a bid to make sure that the legal citizens don't have to bear the brunt of unabated in-migration.
As we mentioned earlier, it is impossible for the developing or developed countries to do away with immigration, as the workforce which forms the basis of development in these countries mainly comes from across the border. In such circumstances, it becomes all the more important for the administration to come up with immigration laws to make sure that the right to freedom of movement is not abused by people.
At the end of the day, the onus is on the administration to understand that migration will continue - if not legally, then illegally, and hence it is wise to formulate a proper immigration policy and make sure that the process is legal - and not illegal.