The Immigration Policies of the United States,Switzerland and China


Immigration is a common phenomenon that is continuing to be witnessed in the world. Immigration is defined as the act that entails the introduction of new or foreign people into another population which is mostly in a different region or country. The main drivers of immigration are the push factors which are generally economic, political and social driven. In the past few decades, asylum seekers have formed a sizeable proportion of immigrants in Switzerland (Marcacci, para. 17). According to the United Nations in its 2006 report, the number of immigrants in the world is currently slightly above 300 million with most of them being of Asian origin. The report noted that about a quarter of the immigrants were found in Europe while about 50 million were hosted in Canada and the United States of America. The immigrants in developing countries were found to be constant over the previous ten years due to the fall in the number of refugees brought about by civil strife. The research paper will compare and contrast the immigration policies of the United States, Switzerland and china while reflecting on the political history and values of the community in the respective countries.

The three countries were selected due to their geographical locations and different political histories particularly during the period between 19th and 21st century. The United States was one of the biggest markets for slave trade and migration destination for Europeans in the 18th century and thus witnessed a large proportion of its population being immigrants. The fact that the North America is the second largest destination for immigrants and the extent of border points in the United States made it vital for its selection with the aim of understanding more on policies. On the other hand, Switzerland was selected due its central location in Europe and the influences from its large and more populous neighbors (Marcacci). China being the most populous country in the world is among the countries that have to worry about emigration and immigration


The research on immigration involved the utilization of literature review with a view of coming up with relevant comparative data which will give a clear picture of the similarities and differences at policy level. The data will include documented statistical figures and narrative on the development of the various policies in the three countries. Comparative analysis of the statistics will be done (Dawson). The political theory was the approach used in writing this paper since emphasis is given to the understanding and development of the policies and legislations over time (Scott & Stephen).


The history of American immigration started in the 17th century and transverse through the colonial, mid 19th century, 20th century and the era after 1965. These periods are crucial in understanding the policy measures put in place by the government to stem immigration. According to US Immigration and Citizenship Services, several legislations have been enacted to control the influx of people into the country. The first legislation was passed by the congress in 1921. The Emergency Quota Act was reinforced by the Immigration Act of 1924 which was meant to lock out the Jews, Italians and salvo. In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act amendments of 1965 were enacted marking the end of national origins restrictions thereby ushering an era when many Europeans started flocking to the United States.

The United States has an open door policy for foreigners and views this as a form of achieving economic prosperity and cultural diversity (US Immigration and Citizenship Services). The government has set up the green card lottery as one of the ways to encourage skilled labour into taking permanent residence in the country. The government is also instrumental in helping the immigrant to successfully adapt to the civic culture of the American people. The United Nations in their international migration report, noted that the immigrants in America accounted for 20.1 %( 38.4 million) of the world total in 2005 which was an increase of more than 5% of the 1990 figures (3). The 1990 immigration act was aimed at maintaining the influx of immigrants below 700000 annually (US Immigration and citizenship services).

The Chinese government has put stringent measures to control the proliferation of aliens in their country. This is contained in the Immigration Act of 1985, which spells out the procedures of acquiring a visa and all matters pertaining to the aliens. The Chinese Immigration act of 1985 also set conditions that would disqualify a person from getting a visa or gaining entry into the Chinese territory. Article 1 of the act denotes that the law will be applied to resident and nonresident aliens’ entering, passing through or leaving the Chinese territorial boundaries. The mandate of securing the border and port entry was given to the National Immigration Agency (, 1). The 1980’s also saw the Chinese government embrace reforms thus forcing thousands of Chinese to immigrate to other countries to seek better living standards and education. The coastal areas of chine have become major source for immigrants for Australia, Canada and other countries. The immigrants use illegal and legal means to enter their preferred destinations. The Chinese recorded an increase of 800,000 in 2005 compared to the 1990 figures. This was an increase of 0.2 % of immigrants inside the Chinese territory (United Nations, 3).the Chinese form majority of the world population of immigrants. The immigration is fuelled by the lack of opportunities in their territory and the lack of political freedom. Chinese illegal migrants were around 40000 in France in 2009 and formed 2% of the11.55 million illegal migrants in the United States in 2006.

Switzerland is the home to the largest number of immigrants in Europe

1.7 million immigrants were living in Switzerland in 2005 compared to 1.4 million in 1990 (United Nations, 3). This accounted for more than 20% of the population in Switzerland making her the country with the highest number of immigrants. The Yugoslav and the Italians form the majority of immigrants in the country with the first movement of foreigners to Switzerland occurring in late 19th century. This was triggered by the consensual agreement to allow the movement of the countries nationals. This led to the amendments of the 1931law that put stricter regulations on the foreign residents and immigration. However, the failure of the government to speed the naturalization process has led to the high numbers of foreigners in Switzerland (Marcacci).


The three countries share some similarities in the way they approach the issue of immigration. The enactment of stricter legislations to safeguard the rights of the citizens is evident in the countries with the Chinese having the most strict legislation governing entry to their territory. The three countries have set measures and procedures of dealing will illegal immigrants which may range from fines to deportation to the country of origin. This mainly happens when the aliens are involved in criminal offenses or their permits expire. Another similarity amongst the three countries is the tendency for them to attract technocrats in their industrial and technological dependent processes. Switzerland and china have benefited mainly from technological expertise of immigrants while America has gained from the Jewish and African immigrants. Acquiring visas or specific identification documents are prerequisites of entering, passing through and working in their territories.

Nevertheless, stark differences exist in the approaches embraced by the three countries. The American immigration policies are directed at attracting direct expatriate labour. The green card lottery is part of the initiative to bring qualified and competent labour for its large economy. Unlike in United States, little or no measures to attract labour have been put in place in China and Switzerland. In the United States and Switzerland the residents are given preferential treatment to some extent unlike in China. The immigration policies in china neither encourage the resident citizens to remain in China nor protect them from competition from the immigrants. This is the reason the Chinese form the majority of immigrants, whether legal or illegal, in the western countries and Australia.

The Chinese and the Americans have embarked and invested heavily in securing their borders. The United States has to safeguard its expansive border with Mexico due to the potential risk of terrorist attack and the proliferation of drugs from Mexico. United States and Switzerland have very accommodating immigration policies due to the integration of social services in these countries. Immigrants account for 10-15% of the population in USA and Switzerland thus causing increased pressure on the social amenities which are mainly funded through tax.

Influence on political culture

The immigration policies have impacted on the politics of America owing to the high number of naturalized citizens. It’s not uncommon for presidential candidates to promise incentives to groups of different origins in order to win their votes. Immigration in Switzerland has resulted in fears of cultural erosion and introduction of authoritarian rule especially in early 1990 (Marcacci, 2001). In china, immigration from Taiwan and Hong Kong always result in acrimonious and soured relations with its neighbors due to mistreatment of immigrants.

The class sessions met the expectations since a foundation for further reading and research was set while at the same time concepts instilled.


Immigration is a phenomenon that has become popular with people living in developing countries and those seeking political asylum. It is a big problem in the United States and Swaziland where 10-15% of the population are immigrants. China, United States and Swaziland share some similarities in their policies; visas for immigrants. The impact of immigration is felt in the social, economic and political fields in the three countries due to the soaring numbers of immigrants. There is need to address the issue of immigration with urgency before it becomes a burden to the host country.

Assessment and general comments

The research experience provided me with an oversight of the implications of the immigration crisis in the present and future. The research also enlightened me on research methodologies and their wide application in the routine activities of a researcher. The assignment not only provided a chance to utilize the methodologies learnt but also provided learning experience of an issue that affect millions of people.

Works cited

Dawson, Catherine. Practical Research Methods, New Delhi: UBS Publishers’ Distributors, 2002.

Hoppe, Herman. The Libertarian Case for Free Trade and Restricted Immigration. Journal of Libertarian Studies, 13, 2001. Web.

Immigration Act: Law of the People’s Republic of China on Entry and Exit of Aliens. Web.

Marcacci, Marco. Switzerland prepares to review immigration policy. Geneva: Swiss info, 2004. Web.

Scott, Gregory M. and Stephen M. Garrison. The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998.

United Nations. International Migration Report 2006: A global assessment. New York: United Nations. 2010. Web.

US Immigration and Citizenship. Web.