The population of illegal immigrants in the United States continues to rise at an alarming rate. This has prompted the need for a solution to deal with the issue. Many proposals have been made; ranging from deportation to granting amnesty to illegal immigrants (Ashabranner 16). Amnesty refers to the act of forgiving illegal immigrants of their illegal status and making them permanent citizens of the country.
In 2006, an amnesty bill was tabled by the democrats in congress. The bill proposed that any illegal immigrant who has been in the United States for more than five years and has worked for two or more years should be given the permission to be legal and permanent residents of the United States (Al 27). This paper outlines some of the reasons why illegal immigrants should be given amnesty and allowed to be permanent residents.
First of all, it is essential to outline why the issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants has been a subject of debate. One of the main reasons is the escalating population of immigrants in the United States. Statistics show that about 300,000 illegal immigrants find their way into the United States every year. Over 50 percent of this number comes from Mexico. One of the main reasons why this increase in the population of illegal immigrants has been tolerated is because of the role that illegal immigrants play in the U.S. economy.
A bill passed in the year 1986, known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act is what sparked the initial debate. Under this act, over 2.7 million illegal immigrants were authorized as residents and workers in the country (Brimelow 28). The following section outlines some of the reasons why illegal immigrants ought to be given amnesty in the United States.
One of the strongest arguments for amnesty is the claim by liberals that America is a nation of immigrants. It is the diversity achieved through immigration that actually laid the foundation of the nation. To refuse to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants and yet the economy can support them is to condemn people who came into America in the same way that the founders of the nation came (Espenshade 200).
Therefore, since the immigrants add to the rich diversity and creativity of the country, they should be granted amnesty. Furthermore, illegal immigrants also constitute the cultural diversity which is one of the identifying symbols of the nation. This reason for amnesty is totally patriotic and value-based. It brings to surface the value systems of America and Americans, urging the government to look back at its origin, and keep on the tradition.
The other reasons for advocating for amnesty are mainly economic in nature. First of all, the only illegal act committed by most immigrants is just their entry into the country. Most of them become honest and hard-working laborers who actually support most of the industries in the United States. Furthermore, it is often the poor economic conditions in their home country that force most of them to come into America.
The economic contribution of illegal immigrants is invaluable. This is because they display a dedication to work that is often not evident in the rest of Americans. Therefore, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will not only promote the American economy, but will also add to the humanitarian acts that the nation has n renowned for. Amnesty granted to decent and honest immigrants will lead to more advantages compared to deportation. It is therefore a case of weighing the economic advantages versus the disadvantages of granting amnesty.
The second major reason for supporting amnesty is that it will lead to better and safer conditions for the areas in which these immigrants reside in America. Currently, the fact that the immigrants are illegal means that they are not able to access facilities such as good healthcare. The danger in this is that they are more susceptible to contracting communicable diseases. Therefore, denial of amnesty may end up promoting an epidemic that could have easily been prevented (Brimelow 28).
There are also cases whereby illegal immigrants are witnesses to serious crimes. However, due to their illegal status, they cannot come forth and provide information that could be valuable to promoting justice. Such a scenario even encourages criminals to prefer using illegal immigrants as accomplices and perpetrators of certain crimes (Brimelow 28). Granting amnesty will therefore ensure a safer America.
Thirdly, the alternative to amnesty is deportation and better border security. However, there are no valid strategies that have been proposed for how this option is possible. Currently, there are over 11 million people in America (Al 15). The economic resources that would be required to carry out such a mass deportation will greatly surpass the costs of letting them stay in America.
Furthermore, even after spending such large sums of money on deportation, the elimination of the problem of illegal immigrants is not guaranteed. Oftentimes, most immigrants come to America to find a job which will earn them money for sustenance. Some of this money is sent back to their home countries to help the people who are still there. Therefore, granting amnesty will actually reduce the rate at which more illegal immigrants are coming into the country.
There are also opponents of amnesty who argue that the decision could have serious negative consequences. These conservative groups argue that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will result in a problem of overpopulation in the country. Furthermore, most of the opponents of amnesty express fears that amnesty will lead to job insecurity as illegal immigrants are willing to work harder for lower pay. This will end up reducing employment opportunities for Americans (Chau 605).
Furthermore, the opponents argue that this will simply encourage more illegal immigrations leading to a bigger future burden. However, what the opponents of amnesty fail to address is the fact that the lack of amnesty will not stop illegal immigrants from coming into the country. Furthermore, since the children will not be able to attend school, denying amnesty to immigrants will simply increase poverty and crime in the United States (Espenshade 199).
In conclusion, it is evident that there are more plausible reasons for granting amnesty to illegal immigrants compared to the reasons for arresting or deporting them. These reasons range from patriotic to economic reasons. Refusing to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants will clearly cause more problems for Americans in general. While the conservatives view amnesty as a timid move that tolerates crime, they do not provide a practical alternative. The evidence provided in this paper clearly suggests that amnesty will eventually reduce the problem of illegal immigration. Refusing to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, therefore, will simply compound the problems of crime and poverty which are already plaguing the country.
Al., Brian Grow. Illegal Immigrants Do Not Harm America’s Economy – Opposing Viewpoints: Illegal Immigration. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006.
Ashabranner, Brent. Our Beckoning Borders: Illegal Immigration to America. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1996.
Brimelow, Peter. Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster. New York: Random House, 1995.
Chau, Nancy H. “Strategic Amnesty and Credible Immigration Reform.” Journal of Labor Economics 19.3(2001): 604-634
Espenshade, Thomas J. “Unauthorized Immigration to the United States.” Annual Review of Sociology 21(1995): 195-216.