Free Essay: Immigration in California
Located in the West Coast area of the United States, California is reputed as the most populous state in the country and is reported to be home of one out of eight Americans. In terms of size, the state is ranked third, after Alaska and Texas. In addition to being the most populous state, California also has two of the top ten most populous cities and these are Los Angeles (that is ranked second) and San Francisco (ranked fifth most populous). Nevertheless, the state’s accolades do not stop at that, because California contributes largely towards the U.S. economy. To date, the state remains the largest producer of grocery and fruits in the country, and also contributes towards the state’s economy through the aerospace, manufacturing and education sector. In fact, experts state that if California was a country on its own, it would have been among the most populous and largest economies in the world.
One of the best attributes of California, however, is the rich history concerning both the migrants and immigrants, who flocked the state and regarded it as the destination for “the pursuit of life” (Spooner 40). California was ranked among the most outstanding states because of its history with the Midwesterners in the 1800s. These were among the first migrants into California and they were answering to a call in the form of “a series of promotional campaigns sponsored by the state corporations and institutions that aimed at enhancing economic state in the region’s growth” (Spooner 40). Such promotions worked, and attracted and appealed to a large migrant population from Midwest, with the many of them streaming into the state during the early 1900. The flow of migrants was interrupted by the Great Depression in 1930s and the Second World War.
Among the key attractive features that were associated with California were the great Mediterranean climate, unparalleled physical beauty and the fact that the state offered “an opportunity to escape from a type of community common throughout the Midwest, one that judged people on the basis of the degree to which they adhered to various locally agreed norms” for some people (Spooner 42). The state therefore provided these migrants with the chance to enjoy a life of freedom in which the private and open expression of their individuality would not be judged or questioned on the basis of the established societal norms.
Migration into California by some people from the State of Iowa, was brought about by the need to escape the judgmental nature of people from the Midwest; yet the sense of community and the search for the freedom of expression and living life in a free and non-judgmental environment was not the only activity within California (Spooner 46). The climate of California was quite attractive, the California dream and possibilities offered by the state which had grown to become amongst the largest economies and ranked high among education systems in the nation-also attracted a large immigrant population from different places.
The high migrant population, where most feel free to live without any of the constrains that they faced in their native society has always been a major attracting factor to the immigrant population in California. In essence, majority of the immigrants almost always feel at home in California because of the high population of the migrants. According to Spooner`, “(what) migrants wanted was a place where they were free to be whomever and whatever they wanted to be, without any restrictions on their individuality that were previously imposed on them by community in the cities, towns and rural neighborhoods in which they lived in cooperation and judgment” (46). For individuals of Asian descent, the society was everything, and hence they had to adhere to the norms and conform, the freedom offered by California was a great desire and welcome for them to live freely.
The genesis of foreign immigration to California was nevertheless attributed to the Gold Rush that happened during the years beginning 1848. This attracted most of the foreign immigrants to the state from countries such as France, Turkey, Ireland, Chile, Germany and China as they sought fortune in the gold discovered. Yet even today, in the absence of the gold that was sought in the 1800s, California still attracts many foreign fortune seekers majorly from Latin America and Asia, who view the state as a gold mine and a place where they can make money through their talent in acting and music, given the strong film presence of Hollywood and numerous other music production studios.
The idea of rising to stardom is not just a fascination of immigrants, but is among the key attraction factors of emigration into California. Spooner reveals that “the never-ending stories of music, film and television personalities rising from obscurity to stardom” (51) have continued to attract the large migrant population into the state of California. In addition, given the industrial strength of the state, immigrants see the state as a place where they can get the opportunity to work in industries and send the money in remittances to support their families back home, or even fund their personal upward social mobility. This factor is illustrated clearly by Spooner who narrates the experience of Lois Smith whose uncle and his family moved to California and seemed to possess “far more money than her family because they had moved to California” (51).
This economic attraction of California is still there to date, especially with the enactment of legislations that facilitate a conducive environment for the migrants. An example of such laws includes the passage of the regulation that permits for, “Undocumented immigrants practice law, provided they have attended law school and passed the state bar” (Hastings). Such laws and regulations cement the attraction of California to migrant and immigrant populations as they view the state as a center for freedom and free will, besides being forward thinking in terms of its labor laws. This attraction is also compounded by other factors that have for a long time led to the migration into the state such as quality education, given the reforms in education that resulted in the state being ranked among the best in the nation in provision of higher education opportunities.
Despite the attractions that California offers to immigrants and the fact that they have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, illegal immigrants are causing more harm than good to the general Californian population. The immigrants form the nation’s largest population, and most of these are illegal, hence have increased the levels of unemployment especially for the legal citizens. Since the illegal immigrants are capable of working at wages as low as $5 an hour, they are largely preferred by many companies; and this locks out the legal citizens whose average wage ranges from $8 per hour according to the labor laws of the state. Essentially, experts state that these immigrants cause “problems for poor children, lower-skilled workers, residents of declining urban communities, African Americans, unskilled immigrants and well-paid scientists and engineers” (Gerston).
These problems have additionally put a strain on the state because they cannot provide health care to the immigrants, and given that they do not pay taxes, the responsibility has been transferred to the citizens. This has forced the state to raise taxes, especially the sales tax, which is high and not only affects the immigrants but the larger citizenry because they are also forced to buy products, albeit at expensive costs. Such inconveniences to the citizenry and the economy of the state has only attracted calls from many for immigration to be “severely limited” (Gerston).
An even more serious problem caused by the high immigration is the strain on the healthcare system, and this mainly deals with diseases that had earlier been cured, yet have resurfaced with the higher immigrant population. The healthcare problems also come in the form of the fortune that has to be spent on the public healthcare system because of the rising number of visits to the hospitals, as well as other problems that have risen including drug addiction problems (Hastings).
Over the years, California has had a history with immigration which began with the promotional campaigns in the Midwest, that marked the beginning of the growth of the population in the state. While this fueled economic growth and encouraged the pursuit for the California dream, it has brought about major concerns for the security, healthcare and the social fabric of the California state.
Gerston, Larry, N. Immigration in California: Conflict, Confluence and Controversy. Mediterranean Quarterly, 15.4 (2004). Web. 17 October 2013
Hastings, Deborah. Undocumented immigrants may practice law under new Carlifonia legislation spurred by Sergio Garcia’s long, tortured quest. Daily News, 2013 October 15. Web. 17 October 2013
Spooner, Denise, S. A New Perspective on the Dream. Web. 17 October 2013