Immigration and the USA
The United States of America is the richest and one of
the most influential countries in the world!
Images of American wealth, lifestyle and culture are beamed throughout the world –
from movies made in the USA, the popularity of American singers and songs, American
TV shows, American food - these all act as a magnate to attract people to want to live
and work in the USA.
It is estimated that there are nearly 40 million immigrants in the USA. People for
all over the world decide to leave their own country to live in the USA. The reasons why
people leave their own country are called PUSH factors (reasons to be pushed away
from your country of birth).
Try to think of as many reasons as you can why someone might want to leave their own
country, place them round the spider diagram below:
(Try to think about people from different countries i.e. why someone from Scotland
might want to leave their own country? why might someone from Africa want to leave
where they are?)
Bad Weather – the rain
Millions are attracted to living and working in the USA, the reasons why people are
draw to the USA are called PULL factors (reasons that pull you towards living in the
Try to think of as many reasons as you can why someone might want to live in the USA
All of these PULL factors together are often called ‘The American Dream’
The reasons why people immigrate to the USA can be put into 3 key areas:
A) The American Dream
This is the belief that if you work hard and are determined then you will be successful
in the USA.
For example, Mariah Carey, Sam Walton and Chris Gardiner all worked hard to achieve
This is the type of ideology the USA that has made it the richest country in the world
and many people have a very high standard of living.
For example, the average American wage is $40,000 per year!
The rights and freedoms of American people are protected by the US constitution;
Americans are passionate about protecting their rights.
For example, the right to vote, the right to own/carry a gun, freedom of speech.
1. Explain in a sentence what PUSH factors are – give examples.
2. Explain in a sentence what PULL factors are – give examples.
3. Write two PEEL paragraphs describing the key reasons/areas why people
immigrate to the USA
2 – What is immigration?
Millions of people arrive in the USA each year from all around the world
Not all are immigrants
Tourists – there are millions of people that visit the USA each year on holiday – usually
less than 30 days and then they go home! – Popular tourist areas include New York,
California, Florida and Washington D.C. – over 20 million tourists visit the USA each year
Students/Workers – some people are in the USA temporarily (i.e. they may live in the
USA for a year or so to study at university or to work, summer jobs etc – however they
also have the intention of returning to their home country at the end of their stay) To
do this requires a visa. For example some British people may spend the summer working
in a USA summer Camp and then return home.
Immigrants – immigration is when people move to a country with the intention of living
Immigrants in the USA 2013
Country of origin
Number of immigrants
Total number of
immigrants living in the
The USA attracts people from all over the world, most immigrants living in the USA are
from Mexico – can you think why this is? There are over half a million British people who
live in the USA permanently. Most immigration to the USA is from other North American
countries or from Europe. The least amount of immigrants comes from Africa, why might
this be the case?
Immigrant V. Citizen
People who are allowed to live in the USA permanently are not American – i.e. someone
from Scotland, who goes to live in New York, is a Scottish person and still a UK citizen –
they are not American even though they are allowed to spend the rest of their life in the
To become an American you need to pass a test! – Even then there are certain differences
– i.e. someone who becomes an American is not allowed to be President. If an immigrant
does become American they have DUAL CITIZENSHIP – which means you are allowed 2
different passports i.e. a UK passport and a USA passport.
Illegal immigration – some people live and work in the USA who are NOT allowed to be
there! This is called illegal immigration, which we will look at in detail later. If an illegal
immigrant is caught, they can be deported (sent home)
1. Not all people from other countries who are in the USA are
immigrants. What are the 3 main groups of people who are in the USA?
2. “There are over a million British immigrants in the USA. Most
immigrants are originally from Mexico”
Using the information in the table ‘immigration in the USA 2012’ give
one reason to SUPPORT and one reason to OPPOSE the view of the US
3. Immigrants are not US citizens, what is the difference between an
immigrant and an American?
4. What is an illegal immigrant?
3 – Famous/Successful
Many people have come to the USA– often called the ‘land of opportunity’ attracted by
the American Dream. There are many examples of people arriving in America often poor
or fleeing their own country, however by using their talent, working hard, being
determined the have become successful and lived the American dream.
1 – Albert Einstein
Arguably one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century.
He was born in Germany. He immigrated to the USA when the Nazis
came to power in Germany. He took a position a Princeton university,
and advised the President at the time of the dangers of nuclear
2 - Arnold Schwarzenegger
He was born in Austria and dreamed of immigrating to the
USA from age 10. He used his talent at body building to achieve
This. He immigrated to the USA where he became a successful
Bodybuilder and then moved into acting, where he starred in many
Movies including, The Terminator. He then moved into politics and
was successfully elected Governor of the state of California
3 – Antonio Banderas
Born in Malaga, Spain. Antonio Banderas immigrated to the
USA and became a successful actor. He is the voice of ‘puss
in boots’ in Shriek and has starred in many films.
4 – Colin Powell
He was US Secretary of State, under President Bush
Powell’s parents came to the USA from Jamaica. He was
brought up in South Bronx. He got a degree in geology
and then joined the army where he reached the rank
5 – Jerry Yang
Jerry came to the USA from Taiwan at the age of 10, and only
knew one English word – shoe! He settled in California and graduated
from Stanford University. He and one of his classmates
created Yahoo search engine.
1. For each of the immigrants shown state what either their
talent is or what their determination was.
2. For each of the following Famous Americans try to guess
where their country of origin is:
A) Barack Hussein Obama
E) Craig Fergusson
B) Muhammad Ali
F) Mark Zuckerberg (facebook)
C) Sandra Bullock
G) Andy Garcia
D) Conan O’Brien
H) Jennifer Lopez
4 – Settlement patterns
When people immigrate to the USA there are over 50 states where they could settle.
% of immigrants per state (selected states)
% of immigrants
1. Using the blank map of the USA and the table that shows % of
immigrants per state – colour all the states which have above 10% of
their population immigrant’s one colour and colour all the states that
have below 10% immigration another colour.
2. What do you notice about all the states that have above 10%
immigration? Why do you think immigrants are most likely to live in
Where immigrants choose to live can have an impact on the local area i.e. number of
immigrants, number of jobs taken, places in local school, number of houses available etc.
Which state immigrants choose to settle in, is often based on 3 key factors:
1 – Point of entry
Many immigrants tend to live in the state, or close to the state where they entered the country.
The place that they entered the USA tends to be close to where they settle. For example, many
Mexicans choose to stay in California, Texas and Arizona as these are states that boarded
Mexico. Many Europeans live in states like New York which is on the Eastern side of the
USA, closet to Europe. Similarly may Asian’s settle in California as that is the Area of the
USA that is closet to Asia.
2 – Job Availability
As the majority of immigrants that settle in the USA want to live the American Dream, they know
to do this they must work hard in order to succeed. Therefore, states where there are jobs
available attract a lot of immigrants. States that have large immigrant workforces attract other
immigrants that are able to do similar jobs. Not many will move to the USA and then move to a
state where they cannot find work.
For example, many immigrants move to California to work where around 25% of all farming
jobs are done by immigrants.
3 – Racial Make-up of state
When immigrants move to the USA, they tend to live with/near/beside people the same or similar
to them. This may include moving to an area where you already have relatives, or moving to an area
where there are a high number of immigrants from the same area.
For Example most Mexican immigrants live in California, over 30% of the people who live in
California are Hispanic (including America’s who are Hispanic and immigrants who are Hispanic)
therefore California is attractive to Hispanics as there are already lots there!
Selected information on Asian immigration to the USA
Where recent (new)
population who are
Asian (% of Asians
3. Write two PEEL paragraphs describing 2 of the key factors
immigrants take into consideration when deciding which state to
4. Using the Table ‘selected information on Asian immigration to the
USA’ what is the link between
Immigrant settlement patterns and average hourly earnings
Immigrant settlement patterns and % of population who are
5 – Illegal Immigration
To be allowed to immigrate to live/work in the USA, you need to apply to the US
government for permission. If you are given permission you are given a visa (which details
your permission). Not everyone who applies to immigrate to the US gets permission; many
people do not meet the criteria/standards that the US government sets for allowing
people to move to the USA.
Even if you do meet the standards it can still be a long process to be given permission to
live in the USA, as hundreds of thousands of people apply each year to be allowed to live
in the US. The government however does not let everyone in (or the US would be swamped
by immigrants!) – There are limits to how many people the US let move to the country
HOWEVER! – Some people move to the USA without permission! – They are called illegal
immigrants. These are people who live in the USA permanently but are not allowed to be
In the USA it is estimated that there are around a minimum of 10-11 million illegal
immigrants – over twice the entire population of Scotland!
Settlement patterns of illegal immigrants
Number of illegal immigrants
% of illegal immigrants
All other states
Most illegal immigrants in the USA are from Mexico – an estimated 62% of all illegals
are Mexican! This is due to the large border between the US and Mexico – nearly 2000
miles long. Making it easy for some to sneak into the USA illegally.
Problems with illegal immigration
Many people in the USA are worried about the number of illegal immigrants entering the USA. It
is seen as a very important political issue. Many argue the main problems with illegal immigration
Work for low wage – illegal workers are not entitled to the same protection as Americans,
therefore they work for less wages. A Mexican illegal can earn more in one day gardening
in the USA than they can in a week working on a farm in Mexico. Americans know they can
pay illegals less money so some building sites or farms use illegal workers – however if
they are caught they are severely punished by the law.
Crime – organised crime gangs are involved in trafficking (moving people) illegally across
the border. Some illegal immigrants that find themselves without work in the USA also
turn to crime as means of getting by.
Housing – as most illegal immigrants are poor and not entitled to housing may live in
cramped conditions often 10 or more to small 2 bedroom houses. This causes housing areas
to become run down – ghettos/barrios
poverty – illegal immigrants are not entitled to free education or welfare – therefore many
remain in poverty.
Language problems – many illegal immigrants are poor and uneducated often many can only
speak limited or no English, this can cause cultural problems and so Americans feel
threatened by this, as English is not the main language in some areas.
Security – since 9/11 Americans have become increasingly worried about the number of
people who gain access to the country illegally, many are concerned that terrorist can gain
access to the USA. Also many argue that as illegal immigrants are not ‘American’ they are
more likely to be a security threat.
1. What is an illegal immigrant?
2. How do you get permission to live in the USA?
3. ‘illegal immigration is a big problem for the USA’ – use the
information in figure 1 to Support this viewpoint
4. Where do most illegal immigrants come from? Why?
“California and Florida have the most amounts of illegal immigrants.
Whereas Arizona, New Jersey and Georgia all have a the same % of
illegal immigrants” – view of Bob Smith, U.S. politician
Using table – settlement patterns of illegal immigrants - give one
reason to SUPPORT and one reason to OPPOSE the view of Bob
6. Draw a spider diagram on ‘the main problems of illegal immigration’putting the 6 problems as the legs of the spider