Last Updated on October 1, 2022 by Allard John Keeley
The USA Versus Canada: Immigration and a New Life
The USA: Reasons why people immigrate, and a brief history of immigration
When we think about the USA, it is inevitable that we think of immigration and the mass migration that occurred in the past; the United States is a nation founded on immigrants .The first indigenous people moved from Asia to North America; when the old world (Europe) discovered the bountiful land and natural resources that is America, it ignited a mass migration, people from various countries immigrated to the New World in droves looking for a better future. Suddenly, the land was a country of mixed culture and languages. Because of this rapid and constant influx of immigrants, immigration laws were necessary: they were invented, reformed, dismantled and revised; the immigration laws in the US have been revised many times, as have immigration laws in most countries.
There are several reasons why people immigrate. For instance, during colonial times, the New World was perceived as being the land of prosperity and economic opportunities, and going to North America was an attempt by immigrants to obtain land at an affordable price, as well as an abundance of work opportunities. The resources produced by the colonies were sufficient to fulfill the needs of those who were in search of a better life and a promising future.
Until the end of the American Revolution in 1783, the American colonies received more than 51,000 prison convicts sent by the British officials, as a part of the Transportation Act, meaning a total of 10% of the immigrants who came during this period. After the Independence of the USA, Australia became the new “home” for those prison convicts until 1868.
During the first half of the 19th century, the Immigration Boom was evident; one of the reasons for such a massive influx of immigrants can be attributed to the United States industrial revolution. Many documents were written as an effort to help immigrants settle in and integrate to their new reality.
Differently from what happened to the other nationalities who wished to enter the United States of America, things were extremely restrictive for Asian immigrants. Even those who were already living in America at the time suffered some form of discrimination and were referred to as “Aliens ineligible for citizenship”, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited Chinese immigration to the country. Although Asian were not welcomed as citizens they were seen by businessmen as being of great value as workers, since they accepted low wages and were willing to work long hours.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Roosevelt decided to uphold the quota system of the Immigration Act of 1924, effectively limiting immigrants from entering the United States.
The United States with its reputation of being a land of opportunity has long had a problem with illegal immigrants; even to this day the number of illegal’s entering the country through the Rio Grande is on the rise. Many risk their lives looking for a better life by seeking asylum in the US.
Canada: why the country receives so many immigrants every year
With a population of around 36,000,000 inhabitants and a GDP per capita of approximately $50,000, Canada is considered one of the best countries in the world to immigrate to with loads of opportunities for employment and personal growth, especially for those who seek a better quality of life. Not surprisingly, the country has the total support of its government when it comes to immigration laws and economic changes that can lead to it.
According to immigrants, Canada has all the qualities a country must have in order to make the transition a smooth one for foreigners. First of all, the rules are not as rigorous as the ones applied in other countries, such as England and the USA; even when the world was going through an economic recession recently Canada did not tighten its immigration laws. Visa programs are accessible to those who intend to come and contribute to the improvement of the Canadian economy, as well as for those who are not qualified for the those programs (non-immigration visa opportunities such as work permits and programs for students are still attainable).
Not only are visa programs offered, but along with these, Canada attempts to provide social security benefits as a way of supporting immigrants and their family members, also the Canadian health system and educational facilities are considered one of the best in the world. Freedom of communication, religion, language choice and culture is included as the main characteristics of Canada’s population.
Since 1947, Canadian immigration law has gone through significant changes, especially after the Immigration Act of 1976, since then the immigration has ranged between 222,000 and 263,000 people every year. Besides the fact that the country has always attracted many immigrants due to its strong economy, Canada also has one of the largest supplies of resources (oil, lumber and metal, for instance).
Surprisingly, over the last two decades, what we can observe is a steady decline in relation to the economic position of immigrants to Canada in comparison to the native locals. And some claim that the main reasons for such a decline are that governmental officials have been shifting immigrants to secondary sector positions, resulting in higher job instability, lower pay and a more complicated environment of work. Along with this, racial discrimination is increased, especially towards those who come from Eastern and Western European countries.
To conclude, Canada is a country that has over 35 ethnic groups with at least a couple of dozen of them having over 100,000 members, so it is truly a place where immigration is visible. Along with the diversity of religion, culture, language and political views, the country undoubtedly has a lot to offer for those who think of moving to and living in Canada.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.