The United States has been, and continues to be, a nation of immigrants. Irrespective of our views about immigration, understanding some of the basic reasons why foreign nationals choose to make this country their home is helpful in providing a renewed appreciation for the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
One of the most common reasons why foreign nationals immigrate to the United States is for economic opportunity. The concept of the "American Dream" is one that is closely associated with economic opportunity. As a result, many foreign nationals are inspired to come and live the American Dream for themselves, although the concept itself may have a different meaning for each immigrant who comes into the country.
Many would agree, including Joyce Bryant of Yale University's New Haven Teachers Institute, that "the main reason for immigration has long been economic opportunity, the lure of better land or a better job."
Political and Religious Asylum
Some immigrants who hail from oppressive governments come to the United States to seek political or religious asylum. Each year, the United States government grants political or religious asylum to individuals who have experienced persecution for expressing their views or for practicing their religion in their home countries.
Some of the ideals expressed in the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, explain why many immigrants come to the United States for asylum.
Reunion with Relatives
Another common reason why some immigrants come to the United States is to reunite with loved ones. In fact, U.S. immigration law gives U.S. citizens and permanent residents the option of petitioning the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring their loved ones into the country legally. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen who is married to a foreign national, the law allows you to file a petition with USCIS on behalf of your relative.
Similarly, many U.S. citizens or permanent residents adopt foreign children each year and bring them into the country.