Media outlets have been inundated with stories about immigration since U.S. President Trump made it one of his political agenda. Controversies and restrictions on immigration feature prominently now because of the threat to those who are already in the U.S., especially those who were brought into the country while they were still young children. The U.S. courts have granted these people, who are under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) a reprieve, allowing them to apply for a new DACA or renew their expiring one until further notice.
The United States is a favorite destination of immigrants around the world who dream of a better life for themselves and their families. Some immigrants came to the U.S. legally although some entered the country through illegal means.
This is the topic of this article. We’re always talking about immigration. But, three terms describe the movement of people from one country to another, where the action means leaving their home country permanently to reside in the other country. There terms are immigration, emigration and migration.
When do you use each one? How do you differentiate the terms? We’ll look at each item and see where the differences lie.
What is immigration?
Immigration, which is one of the most commonly used terms, is defined as coming to a foreign country with the intention of permanently living there.
Throughout history, immigration has been of great cultural, economic and social benefit to the various states in the U.S. Several waves of immigration through the years gave rise to the establishment of various multicultural societies. They caused the spread of different cultures and influx of people of different ethnicities that enriched the culture of the United States.
The process of legally immigrating to the United States is a lengthy procedure and requires plenty of documentation. One of the specific requirements is that documents of individuals not written in English should be translated. Certified translations of their documents should be done by qualified translators.
After WWII ended, the wave of immigration was largely due to the movement of refugees. In the 1950s and 1960s, the influx of immigrants was due to the end of colonization in Africa and Asia. Many people went to France and the United Kingdom. For example, the British Nationality Act of 1948 granted British citizenship to residents of their former Commonwealth territories.
After the Second World War, the rebuilding of the infrastructure in Europe relied heavily on the hands of guest workers and immigrants who worked in the region’s transport, health and manufacturing industries.
But conditions were not favorable for immigrants due to discrimination. In several countries as well as states in the U.S., minority communities and ethnic groups were isolated. Several states tried to deal with the immigrants’ social exclusion by putting a limit to immigration. On the other hand there were states that focused on uniting the different cultures into one through citizenship. That is why immigrants granted citizenship are made to swear allegiance to the new country that would be their permanent home. Immigration is closely related not only to citizenship but to the political and social rights that are bestowed to them as well.
Control of their borders is maintained by states so that they can determine and monitor the number of immigrants. The degree of control over their borders varies by state. For example, the Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 by states in Europe. The agreement made it possible for citizens of states that signed the agreement to freely cross their borders. In 1999, the immigration and asylum law of the European Union (EU) was finalized. This allowed nationals from the European Economic Area the right to live (reside) and work in any of the states that are members of the EU, including the right to access social services.
The United States on the other hand have a different method for the selection of legal immigrants. Three components are included in the legal immigration to the U.S. – family, employment and humanitarian.
What is emigration?
Like immigration, emigration means relocation from the home country to another country. One of the main reasons why people emigrate is to improve their quality of life or their chances of employment. Emigration has positive and negative effects to the economies of the countries people chose as their new permanent home.
Effects of emigration
When people leave their country, they bring down their county’s consumer spending as well as labor force. It will have a positive effect on their country of origin if the labor force is oversaturated, as it will relieve unemployment. But if the situation is different, then the people leaving their country of birth will deprive their home country of skilled workers. The receiving country on the other hand would be gaining workers who would be an asset to the country’s economy. Many countries exercise control over the number of emigrants, through the enforcement of emigration protocols and strict rules.
Emigration has a fiscal impact on the receiving country because the new emigrants must pay taxes according to their earnings, purchases and other elements. They can access social services like health care, education of their children and other services provided by the new country.
Emigration affects the job market as well as wages in the country they move into. The country must have enough jobs available for the emigrants while ensuring that the native-born workers have equal chances for employment. Wages could be affected as well. For example, acceptance of lower wages by emigrants will effectively lower the wages received by the native born and the emigrants.
In the U.S., the Immigration and Naturalization Act is the basis for emigration. It states that the country can receive 675,000 permanent immigrants each year. Some refugees could also be recipients of emigration status. Unique job skills and family ties are some of the things considered by the U.S. when choosing emigrants. The country wants to ensure that the American economy is protected by choosing people who can contribute positively to the workforce while making sure that American citizens have equal access to all available jobs.
From the definitions and descriptions above, it seems that immigration and emigration are the same. What are the differences between these two? Where does the term migrate or migration factor in this.
By definition, ”migrate” means to move from one region or country to live in another. Technically, this is the umbrella term where emigrate and immigrate fall. To migrate can be temporary or permanent.
For example, during the time of the California Gold Rush, people from the eastern part of the U.S. migrated to the western part of the country. Their move was permanent.
Migrate could be temporary. For example, during the cropping season, many farm workers migrate to the country’s northern part.
Migrate also applies to land animals and birds, as they change habitat temporarily due to the season.
Emigrate and immigrate
These two terms have the same meaning but the difference lie in the application.
Immigrate means to move into or enter and settle in another country, leaving the country of a person’s birth or their previous home country. The term means a permanent move. It only applies to people. The word immigration came from the Latin term ”immigrare” that translates to ”to go into.”
Immigrate is distinct from migrate, as the latter does not mean that someone is moving into another country. Migrate in this case equates only to ”moving.” Immigrate on the other hand means moving into another country.
Emigrate means to leave a person’s region or country to settle into a foreign location. It also means a permanent move, like immigrate. The Latin term “emigrare” or “to move” in English is the origin of the term emigrate.
The main difference between immigrate and emigrate is in the action.
Immigrating means entering another country and making it the person’s permanent residence.
Emigrating means leaving a country to permanently settle in a foreign country.
Noting the usage of these two terms makes a person a better writer or speaker. The difference is subtle but it is important. Note their use in the examples:
- My parents immigrated to the U.S.
- My parents emigrated from the Philippines.
As a further explanation, if the person writing or talking was from the Philippines, the person would say that the parents are emigrants. If the person talking or writing is in the U.S., the person must say that his or her parents are immigrants to the country.
Tips to remembering the terms’ difference
To avoid confusion and help you use the terms correctly, here are some things to remember:
- Migrate means moving, either temporarily or permanently
- Remember the prefix: ”-im” and even ”-in,” means into or in. The prefix ”-e” or ”-ex” denotes from or out of. Therefore, when you say emigrate, you mean to move out of (one country). The immigrate means to move into a new country.
To be a better and effective writer, it is important for you make the distinction. Sometimes it is easy to use the common and often-used word because it is generally accepted, but a writer who is passionate about his or her craft should note the distinction. It is a writer’s responsibility to use the right term all the time, even if it means being different from the rest.
To help you remember what term to use:
- Use migrate if you are discussing the moving process from on location to the next, which is applicable to humans and animals.
- Use immigrate when talking about people and if you’re discussing the arrival point.
- Use emigrate when talking about the place of departure.
Be careful when you choose and use words. English looks simple but it is a complex language and there are terms that have the same meaning but different application.
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