News report | | 18/09/2018 | ±4 minutes reading time

The stricter rules to curb migration to America have shown to be “counterproductive and ineffective”, according to a study from the University College London (UCL). As the researchers have found, the strict immigration policy has made it so law abiding people are forced to turn to illegal channels to still enter the country.

More restrictions lead to greater need for law enforcement

Another problem the researchers found is that more rules lead to a greater need for law enforcement, which naturally leads to more costs. According to Dr Cassile Schwartz, about 20 percent of immigrants are willing to break the law if it allows them to enter the USA. As rules get increasingly strict, this number will likely continue to grow.

Educational level

A major factor in these decisions is the educational level, the study showed. People with higher education don’t feel as much an urge to enter the USA illegally compared to lower educated people, and immigrants with larger families.

“The greatest turn to unauthorized channels occurs when the family route is closed. Where immigration policy is restricted, governments should also consider reducing the already limited possibilities for migration of prospective migrants”, says Miranda Simon of the UCL.

Stricter rules encourage illegal immigration

Intensified controls and the stricter immigration policy of the USA are encouraging illegal immigration, says David Hudson of the Birmingham University. He is the co-author of the report. According to him, the policy is a double-edged sword: “While our report clearly shows that the restrictions regarding immigration has brought down the number of legal immigrants, the number of illegal immigrants has been growing.”

Hudson says that the rules could eventually lead to larger problems: “Eventually, this will result in an expensive and unsustainable need for larger and stricter border controls”.

Worldwide migration

It is estimated that worldwide there are some 258 million migrants. The definition used is of someone living somewhere other than they were born. This amounts to about 3,4 percent of the world population. Between 2000 en 2015, 42 percent of the population growth in North America was due to migration. Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean Islands see comparatively less migration.

Illegal migrants often live under the radar instead of applying for asylum and registering with (local) authorities. They avoid places like hospitals, the police, homeless shelters, and also don’t make use of charities to avoid being caught. This means that it can be difficult to get concrete numbers.

Arranging an ESTA USA

The USA offers various options for foreigners to travel into the country. Most of these are through the hundreds of visas the government issues. But another often use method is the ESTA USA. This is a mandatory online travel authorization which travellers need to apply for before travelling to the USA. Without an ESTA, airlines are not allowed to take passengers aboard their planes. If they do, they risk hefty fines.

ESTA stands for ‘Electronic System for Travel Authorization’. The ESTA is only available to travellers from a select few countries, namely those that fall under the so called ‘Visa Waiver Program’. People from these countries don’t need a visa to enter the USA, but can instead apply for an ESTA. The UK is part of the Visa Waiver program, meaning British travellers don’t need to go to the embassy to get their visa if they wish to travel to the USA. Instead, they can submit an application online, which generally takes about five minutes.

An ESTA is valid for two years, but a visit can only last a maximum of 90 days. These 90 days also include any stays in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands. For longer stays, a US visa needs to be applied for at the US embassy.

There are a number of important requirements for working with an ESTA. For instance, you can work in the United States, but you cannot enter into salaried employment with an American employer. Travellers that after 10 March 2011 have been to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya or Somalia cannot apply for an ESTA. They can, however, submit a visa application at the US embassy.

It is important to remember that even with a valid ESTA, you might still be denied entry. This mostly happens if the immigration service suspects that the travellers poses a threat to the American safety.

An ESTA application can be submitted 24 hours a day. Generally, these are approved within an hour, but can in theory take a maximum of 72 hours.