Policymakers worldwide generally justify their choices about which migrants to admit into their countries, and which ones to reject, based on three factors: economics, national security, and sociocultural values.
The United States makes an interesting case study for immigration policy, since the majority of Americans can trace their lineage to migrants who were pushed from their home countries—fleeing persecution or conflict, or brought by force—or pulled to the United States by economic opportunity. Throughout different waves of immigration in U.S. history, economic reasons, national security concerns, and sociocultural values have guided U.S. officials’ decision-making. These examples from the United States can give a sense of larger global pro- and anti-immigration policy trends.
By looking to history for context, we can better understand how priorities shift over time and evaluate current policies proposed by elected leaders.