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Native Americans - Capitalism and the American economy 4 The American population 5 Section 2: The immigration debate

Native Americans




Native American includes American Indian, Eskimo (Innuit) and Aleut. The Eskimo and the Aleut inhabit Alaska whereas the American Indians are concentrated in several western states mainly on reservations. There are 2.5 million Native Americans.

Until the 1980s the average income on the reservations was 25% of the US average, and American Indians suffered from poverty, unemployment, alcoholism and malnutrition. However the 1980 Indian Gaming Act made gaming legal on reservations. Gambling provided jobs on the reservations and the income it generated was spent on improving health, education and welfare facilities.

Asians




For the first time the 2000 US Census counted Asians and Pacific Islanders as a separate group. The Asian population is concentrated in the West – particularly California – and in the cities of the Northeast and the South. Asians have taken advantage of the US education system and have used the qualifications they gained to secure well-paid employment In the world of science and education.

Some Asians have opened businesses to provide scientific and electronic equipment which has made them wealthy. Many first generation immigrants have opened small businesses particularly in areas such as the ghetto where others would not. These businesses have given them their first opportunity to live the American Dream. Through the 1990s Asians, comprising mainly of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Thais, Cambodians and Vietnamese, accounted for 31% of migrants to the USA.

Activities


1. Make notes on the main features of capitalism in the USA:

• Private ownership

• Profit motive

• Market

• Competition

2. Explain why the realities of the US economy do not always match the capitalist theory.

3. Make notes for each of the main US ethnic groups (Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, Blacks, Whites) on:

• proportion of the population

• distribution

• social and economic position.

You could organise this information in a table.

Section 2

The immigration debate


Immigration has been the subject of major political debate in the USA for over 100 years and it has both an economic and a social dimension. The economic arguments in support of continued immigration are put forward by employers who want cheap labour, whereas those taking the opposing view are poorly paid workers who do not want continued immigration because it keeps their wage levels low.

Then there are those who oppose immigration on the grounds that it costs the taxpayer too much money. They claim that immigrants cost the taxpayer more than $30 billion annually, in the form of health, education and welfare payments. They are opposed by those who claim that immigrants are a young and economically active group who are net contributors to the US economy by as much as $30 billion annually.

There is also a debate about the impact of immigration on society and culture. Those who oppose continued immigration point to an ‘American culture’ that is being overwhelmed by the influx of Hispanic or Asian immigrants. They complain that in many areas of the USA, the English language is not heard in schools, in business or in the media. Their opponents claimed that cultural diversity made America strong and that it is the lifeblood of American society to be refreshed constantly from outside.

The intensity of these debates usually varies as the economy improves or goes into a decline. If the economy is in a downturn, the voices of opposition would blame immigrants for the problems. ‘Angry White Males’ demanded the end of immigration. ‘Angry White Males’ initially consisted of blue-collar workers but are now increasingly middle-class Whites facing competition from Asians for places at college or for jobs in hi-tech industry. Many Blacks and resident Hispanics also complain that Hispanic or Asian immigrants are taking their jobs.

California experienced a significant increase in the number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants during the 1990s. Apparent government inaction led voters in California to vote for Proposition 187, which aimed to discourage illegal immigration to California by denying illegal aliens and their children access

to education, health and welfare benefits. Although it was never implemented before being declared unconstitutional it did demonstrate the strength of the anti-imigration mood.

The US government introduced two new laws to tighten up on immigration. The 1996 Immigration Reform Law doubled the Border Patrol on the US–Mexican border to reduce the number of illegal immigrants. The 1996 Welfare Reform Law tried to deter immigration by stopping welfare for legal immigrants until they had lived in the USA for five years and by preventing access to welfare for illegal immigrants altogether.

2014-07-19 18:44
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