A cross-cultural comparative analysis 6 pages


Cross-Cultural Analysis between Immigration Policy in France and the United States

The movement of people for one country to another is guided by immigration policies. The policies often vary from one country to the other depending on their history. They also vary periodically depending on the dynamics of security, resource availability, and the threat the immigrants pose to the native citizens. In the U.S. And France, immigration policies bring together strangers which complicate the balance between diversity and unity. In the U.S., different reforms of immigration policies have created a notably diverse society with characterized by groups coming from almost all continents. “One from many” remains the national motto even with the various debates seeking to suppress the policy (Cornelius, 2010).

However, a striking element of contemporary immigration policy is that it affects not only the settler society like the U.S. And France but also those countries whose sense of identity was inclusive. This study is based on the U.S. And France social surveys to conduct a cross-cultural comparative analysis between immigration policy in France and the United States. The research has focused on a cross-cultural comparative analysis between the characteristics of immigration policy in France and the United States. It shows how culture and history influence immigration policy in both countries. The current issues and shift in immigration policy in both countries and what the governments are doing to fix them are also identified.

A cross-cultural comparative analysis

The comparison of attitudes is intriguing because America and France approach the dilemma of traditional immigration from radically differing angles. Immigration forms a fundamental element of the U.S. founding myth. The repeated proclamations by politicians and presidents that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants’ elites generate no rhetorical dissent. Most U.S. citizens recognize that all of them originated from somewhere in the U.S. Therefore, immigrants are reflected as foreigner-founders on aspects relating to the adherence of values fostering personal responsibility (Simmons, 2010). While legal immigration to the U.S. was previously difficult and based on ethnic prejudice, the country has become a land of identity where many groups are yearning to live there.

The situation is different in France. Immigration does not factor in the formation of identities of most country states. On the contrary, people define themselves in terms of bounded ethnic terms. The demographic explanation is that France has a vast foreign-born population but is always mocked that it is not a country of immigrations. Unlike the U.S. experience, immigration came to France more recently and reactively. First, it emerged as a reaction to the impacts of the Second World War and second as an outcome of political convulsions in France and elsewhere (Kloosterman & Rath, 2013).

In France, early post-Second World War immigration appears to have been a market driven economy, with residents of former colonies and guest workers recruited to meet the need for labor. After the 1970s oil shock, France reversed its course and sought zero-immigration policies while it also tried to minimize its foreign-born populations through voluntary and forced return (Foner, 2009). However, shortages in skilled labor created partly by competition accruing from the booming U.S. economy. This situation forced France to shift from curtailing immigration to soliciting professional and high-tech workers selectively. In addition, in France, demographic considerations triggered a more positive orientation towards immigration. Increased longevity and birthrates below replacement levels imply that there is a potential deficiency in the resources needed to finance politically entrenched entitlement policies. Arguably, immigration could mitigate the impacts of declining populations even though the more generous and inclusive benefits policies in France appear to have obstructed the economic integration these immigrants relative to the U.S.

In both France and the United States, the debate about immigration has two different perspectives: the cultural and the economic perspectives. From the economic angle, there is a highly technical debate regarding the impacts of immigration for employment, public finance, and wage levels. In the U.S., reviews of emerging evidence suggest that there is a minimal micro-economic benefit of immigration (Horowitz & Noiriel, 2012). However, this is intertwined with adverse impacts on wage and employment levels of native workers. Immigrants in France are considered useful because it bolsters the country’s shortage of workforce. This often overrides the need by the government to be keen on matters relating to public expenditure and wage levels.

How culture and history influence immigration policy in both countries

In the United States, concerns regarding the cultural impacts of immigration have a long ancestry. Native resistance to immigration rests on the claim that new immigrants, especially those differing from previous immigrants, could not assimilate to the U.S. democratic values. Recently, the ongoing and a large influx of immigrants pose a threat to the cultural and linguistic identity of the United States. While future trends might differ, current evidence indicates that the vast majority will not be members of the original United States by the fourth generation, (Togman, 2012).

In France, similar concerns regarding political and linguistic integration of immigrants have grown and policy has assumed a different restrictions tone. In fact, the greater cultural difference between natives and immigrant populations in France arguably makes the ideal national solidarity grounded in shared values, which are hard to achieve. From 1990s, many immigrants to France have been Muslims whose values are believed to conflict with the norms of a liberal, democratic country (Schain, 2012). This feeling of cultural threat, driven by terrorist attacks has swung the immigration policy pendulum from multiculturalism to assimilation. The support for diversity has fueled support for knowledge of national history, cultural norms, and language tests as conditions of naturalization and immigration.

The delicate balance between cultural threat and economic need makes immigration policy in both countries a highly sensitive political issue. There is a pervasive disjunction between U.S. public opinion that tends to favor less immigration and restricted access to federal benefits and the balance of political forces. This allows alliance of businesses and ethnic minorities by sustaining policies that mean more immigrants. In France too, the public has shown its opposition towards immigration that the political structure. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the attitudes towards immigration policies in France and United States regardless of the contrasting cross-cultural narratives depicted (Elliott & Mayadas, 2010).

France has a divided support and opposition of religious homogeneity. Nevertheless, the country appears to support the idea of cultural homogeneity and considers it appropriate for every citizen to share traditions and customs. France has reported the highest levels of support for homogeneity. On the contrary, U.S. seem to be distinct in its heightened tolerance of religious and cultural diversity. Regarding religious homogeneity, the U.S. is opposed to this concept than nearly all Western countries. In terms of cultural homogeneity, U.S. appear to be unsupportive compared to all Western Countries. The long history of religious and ethnic diversity in America has generated a more favorable and distinctive orientation towards cultural heterogeneity. Since the U.S. is unlikely to accept and embrace cultural diversity, it tends to oppose immigration (Penninx & Roosblad, 2010).

Current major issues and shift in immigration policy in France and U.S.

France has recently adopted an anti-federalist policy allowing it embrace talent immigration it considered important for the growth of its economy. This led to the emergence of visas tying foreign-born workers to their employers through sponsorship. Various schemes have been concocted to support geographic mobility. France currently supports the concept of issuing Green Cards to end the federal queue; this makes sense. In the realm of sub-national immigration policies, the new shift will favor French-leaning immigrants over others. Arguably, this shift has immigration more popular in France. It has eliminated the fears of language change from France and has the possibility to provide France with employees, including skilled workers that the country will need as its population ages (Van, 2008). Therefore, this shift in immigration policies appears to be a relative success.

However, the main issue with sub-national immigration policy in France is that immigrants do not have to fit the slots allotted to them. The gap between native born and immigrant wages in France is even worse than in the United States. This is a bi-product of various factors including the difficulties in social recognition and the non-recognition of skilled workers. The second issue is mobility. France has allowed municipalities to have control over immigration. This is a striking, bad policy shift. Immigrants must be mobile, socially and geographically, and the municipal government does not offer adequate scope.

In France, a vast majority of immigrants is concentrated in one area because immigrant communities have created dense social networks and neighborhoods. Restrictions on mobility are problematic if immigrants are allotted residences as an effort to boost declining or stagnant populations. In this case, the waste of potential is more of a moral issue as it is an economic problem. This leads to the question of whether immigrants wills tick to their localities after their probationary periods are over. Studies reveal that immigrant localities in France have a retention rate of twenty percent, for citing reasons of social integration and wages. Therefore, most immigrants do not stay in their localities (Lemel & Noll, 2012).

United States has been increasingly facing the issue of illegal immigrants. This issue has forced residents to be concerned about how such a group could interfere with commerce. However, anti-illegal groups and advocates have converged to create a distorted perception of the issue. Many illegal immigrants continue to queue across the U.S. waiting to be picked up by potential employers (Elliott & Mayadas, 2010). Although the intelligence community has the authority to interrogate any immigrants about their rights to be in the U.S., it simply ignores obvious chance to eliminate immigrants from the U.S. This problem has led to the evolution of various policies such as the Immigration Reform and Control Act that sanctions people employing immigrants.

However, it appears that this policy is not working as desired as the number of illegal immigrants continue to increase. Another issue is that participants in the overall environment like religious groups and politicians have stakes in the failure to enforce internal laws. These groups are subject to receive benefits from the vast immigrant population; potential converts and votes. The implied powerlessness seems to be a strategic effort to soften the consequence of an amnesty policy. Moreover, the U.S. government has been raising various debates on the need to end the Diversity Visa program. This has been the most effective method used by the government of ensuring that professionals who will help in building the nation enter the U.S. This current development if it succeeds will alter nature and the history of immigration. Besides, the threat of terrorism is another issue that has influenced the nature of immigration in the U.S. And even in France. Government operatives have had to be vigilant when admitting immigrants from the Muslim world and countries who tend to care less about terrorism. Such issues will eventually alter the immigration dynamics between the two countries.


This study has shown differences between France and U.S. In terms of the characteristics of their immigration policies. Unlike France, in the U.S., different reforms of immigration policies have created a notably diverse society, with significant groups coming from almost all continents. Although the U.S. appears more tolerant to diversity, it is more concerned on the possible adverse consequences of higher immigration levels. In France, citizens are more worried about the integration of immigrants. A completely new approach is mandatory in solving the issues of mobility, sub-national immigration, and illegal immigrants in both countries. For instance, the U.S. must consider why illegal immigrants enter the country. Although the removal of the lure of employment might be a priority, it requires monumental resources to enforce essential labor related policies. Perhaps the U.S. needs a more progressive internal enforcement strategy that incorporates an emphasis on criminal immigrants.


Cornelius, W.A. (2010). Controlling immigration: A global perspective. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

Elliott, D., & Mayadas, N.S. (2010). Immigration worldwide: Policies, practices, and trends. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Horowitz, D.L., & Noiriel, G. (2012). Immigrants in two democracies: French and American experience. New York: New York University Press.

Foner, N. (2009). In a new land: A comparative view of immigration. New York [u.a.: New York Univ. Press.

Kloosterman, R., & Rath, J. (2013). Immigrant entrepreneurs: Venturing abroad in the age of globalization. Oxford [u.a.: Berg.

Lemel, Y., & Noll, H.-H. (2012). Changing structures of inequality: A comparative perspective. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Togman, J.M. (2012). The ramparts of nations: Institutions and immigration policies in France and the United States. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Praeger.

Schain, M. (2012). The politics of immigration in France, Britain, and the United States: A comparative study. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Simmons, A. (2010). Immigration and Canada: Global and transnational perspectives. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Penninx, R. & Roosblad, J. (2010). Trade unions, immigration, and immigrants in Europe, 1960-1993: A comparative study of the attitudes and actions of trade unions in seven West European countries. New York: Berghahn Books.

Van, P.P. (2008). Cultural diversity vs. economic solidarity: Proceedings of the Seventh Francqui Colloquium. Brussels, 28 February – 1 March 2003. Bruxelles: De Boeck & Larcier.

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