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Illegal Immigrants: Controversial Issues

Enduring Question

Should illegal immigrants be allowed to apply for a green card or citizenship if they have resided in the United States for a substantial number of years?

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What I Already Know

There are two categories of illegal immigrants: those who crossed the border illegally without being inspected by the immigration official and those who have gained access to the country through visas and they have never left. Regardless of the immigration status of the immigrants, they all eventually end up facing the same challenges. Immediately they get identified and labeled as being undocumented immigrants or aliens, they have to go through a rough time getting social services and any other related important services such as access to quality health care, good education, and social security.

Because these undocumented immigrants are not allowed to get social security, they consequently are also not able to pay taxes or even get involved in any insurance services offered within the country. They work very hard and sacrifice themselves to support themselves as well as their families back home. To the United States, the struggling of illegal immigrants and environmental sustainability are two very crucial things.

During the year 2009, President Obama’s record on immigration policy points to certain unavoidable conclusions. The overruling objectives of this administration are to pass an enormous amnesty for current illegal immigrants and greatly increase future flows of immigration to the United States. Recently, the largest labor unions in the United States have been promoting Congress to allow amnesty to millions of illegal workers, to stop the implementation of the law against those employers found hiring illegal workers, and to keep on encouraging the inflow of millions of foreign workers into the country.

Illegal immigrants are a good asset to employers given that they usually will give them very low wages and provide no benefits at all. The minimum wages in the U.S. can be several times greater than the legal minimum wages in the undocumented immigrant’s country. In the end, paying the lower wages tends to benefit the employers as well as the illegal employees.

A keen observation also shows that the presence of illegal immigrants in the United States creates numerous channels for criminal activities to take place. Take, for example, a case where an illegal immigrant has been attacked by anyone in the U.S. For fear of being arrested by the authorities, the illegal alien may choose to suffer silently while the attacker goes scot-free. As a result of this, the government will lose opportunities to stop criminal activities. Also, at the border towns, where some of these illegal aliens will enter through, chances are very high that there will a cartel working to assist them to get illegal documents and this will certainly deny the country revenue. These criminal activities can be curbed by loosening the strict treatment of illegal aliens.

What I Want to Find Out

My main concern is why the government cannot legalize these illegal immigrants who now highly regard the United States as their home. What would the United States due to all the illegal immigrants who total over twelve million? Should they continue to let them be “illegal” as they are? Will the Amnesty Program reduce the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the country? What are the consequences of an Amnesty for these undocumented immigrants? Do illegal immigrants have any rights? If so, what are they?

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Drink, Mutant F. Obama Backs Plan to Legalize Illegal Immigrants. Florida: Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. 2011. Web. 

The author begins this article with President Barrack Obama’s support for an outline plan to legalize illegal immigrants so as to create an avenue to attract low skilled workforce for the future (Drink 1). According to the President, the immigration bill that was being worked on looked “promising” (Drink 1). President Obama made his remarks after Senators Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Lindsey Graham a South Carolina Republican released a blue print to give an outline of legalizing illegal immigrants (Drink 1).

Besides being enthusiastic about putting all the illegal immigrants on a journey to acquire citizenship, they also proposed that highly skilled foreign university graduates should be issued with green cards so as to give them the opportunity to work in the United States and if possible become citizens at some point (Drink 1). In recognition of the two senators, President Barrack Obama was quoted in a statement submitted to the Washington Post saying, “I congratulate Senators Schumer and Graham for their leadership, and pledge to do everything in my power to forge a bipartisan consensus this year on this important issue so we can continue to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform” (Drink 1).

Drink regards having a plan as just the beginning. He argues that the path to getting the legislators to act positively towards endorsing the proposed plan was quite rocky. This becomes clearer when reading comments made by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. In the view of most Americans, the whole idea of allowing illegal immigrants to get legal status to live and work in the United States is just not welcome. Drink argues that there is a need to fix a number of issues ranging from the security concerns around the Border States and working out modalities to ensure that the legalization process would curb the growth of illegal immigrants.

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Why Amnesty Isn’t a Solution. Washington, DC: Federation for American Immigration Reform. 2007. Web. 

In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act that led to the acceptance of roughly 2.8 million illegal aliens getting legal status to live in the United States (FAIR 1). This act of pardon allegedly increased the number of poor people in the United States. Most of the illegal aliens had very little education and the salaries they earned were quite low. This allegedly had to make the Americans shoulder the burden of the amnestied population (FAIR 1).

Over the years, the total cost of the Immigration Reform and Control Act increased to over $78 billion in a period of only ten years (FAIR 1). The author in this article also argues that amnesty only serves to disguise the degree of illegal immigration. It is likened to freeing all prisoners and then claiming that there is no crime because the prisons are all empty (FAIR 1). The article also discusses challenges that accompany the granting of Amnesty.

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According to the author, there are many reasons why Amnesty is not the solution to the Americans illegal immigrants’ problem. This article presents arguments to show that legal forgiveness is not in any way a solution to the United States illegal immigration problem. The author is convinced that by granting Amnesty, a number of things will be affected. Among others, the average level of educated Americans will decline and the whole well being of Americans will be threatened.

Sandford, Daniel. Illegal immigration: Is an Amnesty the Answer? London: BBC News. 2010. Web. 

This article discusses the proposal by the Liberal Democrats to offer amnesty for people who had visited and were living in Britain. The conservatives are convinced that pardoning illegal immigrants was a sure way of making things worse for Britain (Sandford 1). The plan was to allow people who had been in Britain illegally for at least ten years to become legal immigrants as long as they could speak English and were willing to become citizens to live and work in Britain. Looking at the events that surrounded past amnesties, the biggest question was whether or not the amnesty was going to work for Britain (Sandford 1). The article also looks at the outcomes of amnesty implementation in other areas such as the United States where it was regarded a disaster.

Based on what happened to the amnesty implementation in the United States, Sandford highly doubts whether the implementation in Britain would yield any better results. He looks at the way the total population of illegal immigrants went up due to amnesty and fears for the future of Britain if the same was done in the to be followed. To caution the Britons against any unforeseen eventualities, the author sees a big need for the British government to create tougher laws before the implementation of Amnesty could be negotiated.

Longley, Robert. Do Illegal Aliens Have Constitutional Rights? Courts Have Ruled They Do. New York: 2011. Web. 

This article attempts to deal with the misconception that the United States Constitution only refers to the American people and no provisions are made for illegal aliens. A number of cases in which the court made rulings are highlighted. In a case of “Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886)”, the Court ruled that the constitution actually covered all people with no regard to any existing differences whether based on race, nationality or color. It also clearly included any alien who had entered the United States and had become a subject of the constitution even though there may be allegations the he or she was in the United States illegally (Longley 1).

Longley, cautions against being misled by the assumption that illegal immigrants are not covered in the U.S. constitution. Whereas the term “illegal aliens” may not be found in the Constitution of the United States, the rights of the illegal immigrants are implied in others ways as in the case of “Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886)”. While illegal aliens may not enjoy all the rights that have been granted to legal citizens through the Constitution, for example voting or owning any form of firearms, these very rights could also be denied to the citizens of the United States convicted of criminal acts. Considering the fact that the courts recognize the rights of illegal immigrants it is critical that issues touching on illegal immigrants be handled with a lot of care.

White, Deborah. Illegal Immigration Explained – Profits & Poverty, Social Security & Starvation: Why the Federal Government Can’t End Illegal Immigration. New York: 2011. Web. 

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This article tries to show that governments are non-committal when it comes to addressing the illegal aliens’ problem. Apparently, the government of the United States does not seem to want to end illegal immigration any time soon (White 1). In a way, they are seen to be encouraging the inflow of illegal immigrants.

White strongly believes that contrary to what many people believe, there is so much behind the debate about illegal immigrants. She is convinced that governments and other stakeholders have so much to benefit from the inflow of illegal aliens. To the author, the presence of illegal immigrants is a much welcome move by the government and employers who greatly benefit from cheap labor that is offered by the illegal immigrants. Her sentiments become clearer when she alleges that the US and Mexican governments are guilty of enticing illegal immigrants to come and work for employers in need of their services.

Leung, Suzie. Lawmakers Plan to End Birthright Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants. USA: Absolutely Fabulous. 2011. Web. 

This article looks discusses a move by the American lawmakers to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants. To curb the ever increasing numbers of the illegal immigrants, these lawmakers have decided to put an end to the birthright citizenship of children of illegal immigrants born in the United States (Leung 1).

Despite the Leung coming out strongly in support of the move to abolish the birthright citizenship, she is afraid that this may not be such an easy thing to accomplish given that birthright citizenship is strongly embedded in the Constitution of the United States.

My Answer

The debate about illegal immigrants is quite complicated. While there are those who are convinced beyond doubt that it Illegal immigration should be completely stopped, there are some who are not ready to support the move. It is a struggle that will not end any time soon especially bearing in mind that there are those who are directly benefiting from the presence of illegal immigrants and wish to see the arrival of even more immigrants.

Deborah White gives reasons to show that there is very little commitment to address the problem of illegal immigrants. She notes that the U.S. borders are not strictly manned leading to an influx of the illegal immigrants. She claims that almost 75% of the undocumented immigrants enter the US through the border with Mexico at the south. In a statement in the Time magazine in the year 2004 the acts of illegal immigration increased during the Bush Administration with 3 million additional immigrants being received the same year (White 1).

In my opinion, the presence of the illegal immigrants is a real threat to the United States. By not paying tax to the government, the illegal immigrants seriously deprive the U.S. of a massive income. There is also the big challenge of dealing with the security of the nation and enforcing law. For fear of being arrested, illegal immigrants will not risk appearing before law enforcers. This makes them easy targets for attacks and as a result the criminal acts will keep rising.

To address some of these challenges, the U.S. government should give legal status to the illegal immigrants. However, strict measures must be put in place to help prevent the continued inflow of illegal aliens. This will boost security and revenue will also go up as immigrants finally begin to lawfully pay their taxes to the government.

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