The debate on whether the United States government should be responsible for the children of undocumented persons within its borders has been ongoing for years now. Whereas other people believe that the government should support immigrants, especially their children, others claim it is not the government’s responsibility. The issue has remained controversial for years and successive governments have used it as a campaign tool to influence voters during elections. Unfortunately, years of blame games have not provided a clear direction on the issue. In fact, the country and its leadership seem even more clueless now than ever on how to solve the problem. The concerns raised by those opposed to activities aimed at supporting undocumented children are serious and credible. However, it is the responsibility of the United States’ government to protect every living being within its borders and to provide them with basic needs enjoyed by other citizens.
Children are innocent and should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes. When illegal immigrants come to the country with young children or deliver the children in the country, those cannot be considered part of the crimes of their parents. They have no say or influence on their parents’ actions. Why then should the government neglect children for their parents’ mistakes? The government should address the issue of illegal immigrants instead of punishing innocent children who play no role at all in their parents’ bad choices. It cannot be denied that illegal immigrants overburden the country. At the same time, critics should try to understand that the factors that push the immigrants into the country are both complex and pressing. Welch attributes the immigration of people to “poor living conditions in their home countries,” drug violence, desperation, and joblessness. Most immigrants come to the US as their only hope for getting a good chance to succeed in life. Their actions are out of desperation and not the desire to break the laws of the land. They want the best for their children, which is a natural feeling for any parent.
Those opposed to the idea of the government taking responsibility for undocumented children cite various reasons for their opposition. First, they claim that it is a very expensive venture for the government and could way down the country’s constrained budget. According to Butowsky, “each illegal immigrant costs our country $24,000 a year. But, on average, each pays $10,000 in taxes, so it’s reasonable to say that each illegal really adds $14,000 a year to our country’s debt burden” (n.p). People like Butowsky are more concerned about the tax burden immigrants and undocumented children added to the country than the welfare of the children. To others, taking responsibility for the undocumented children means building more schools, hospitals, and other basic amenities which increase the government’s burden. Furthermore, others claim that taking responsibility for undocumented children is in conflict with the law of justice.
Illegal immigrants come into the country through corruption and porous borders. Their acts go against the constitution and should be punished, not rewarded. However, by taking responsibility for their children, the government will be rewarding criminals instead of punishing them (Sarat 16). Past trends have made it more difficult for many people to accept the integration and acceptance of immigrants into the general populace. Past attempts to solve the problem of undocumented persons resulted in even bigger problems. The 1986 IRCA implementation program resulted in the registration of millions of immigrants (Hing 171). Despite spending millions of dollars on the program to solve the problem of illegal immigrants once and for all, the problem seemed to have stimulated more illegal immigrants to come into the country. Therefore, those opposed to the program claim that taking responsibility for undocumented children could lead to an even greater problem than what the country is facing today as parents may use their children to attract sympathy.
Despite the opposition to the problem at hand, there are many compelling reasons for the government to take responsibility for undocumented children. First, it is common knowledge that the US population is largely made up of immigrants (LeMay 413). Native people make a very small percentage of the US population, which means the majority came from other counties at different times (Warry 41). If more than half of the population is composed of immigrants, what authority do they have to send away other immigrants? Just like the first visitors came to the US for greener pastures so are the current people. These children need our support, not ridicule. Additionally, the government should support undocumented children because we could be their only hope for safety and peace and it is immoral to neglect or throw away someone who has run for your help when they are in darkness. The US is a world super power and is, therefore, a fortress for many people.
Why should the country abandon its role of being a protector of human rights and dignity by neglecting children living within its borders simply because they lack documentation? Being responsible for undocumented children is a show of a country’s dedication to upholding human dignity. The US government should not show any signs of weakness by failing to take care of persons within its borders regardless of their documentation statuses as other countries do. Lastly, the government should be responsible for undocumented children because it is the right thing to do. There comes a time when financial implications, legality, and political relevance play a secondary role in morality in making decisions that bind a nation. Being responsible for undocumented children may be politically incorrect, illegal, and costly, but it is morally right. As such, the government should go ahead with the program based purely on morality.
As discussed above, the debate on the US government’s responsibility for undocumented children has remained controversial. Those opposed to the program claim it is costly, illegal, and bad precedence for future cases. Despite the claims, most undocumented children in the country have been brought in by parents who faced insurmountable challenges in their home countries, are running for their lives, or simply want peace and protection. It is therefore unacceptable for the government to neglect them. Just like the first immigrants who have now become natives, the current undocumented children should be given a chance to achieve the American dream. The government should be responsible for them because it is morally right and because we are a country founded on immigration. Failing to protect undocumented children within the country’s borders could be seen by other nations as a sign of weakness, which could make the US vulnerable and should be avoided at all cost.
Butowsky, Ed. “We Cannot Afford Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants.” Fox News. 2014. Web.
Hing, Bill. Defining America through Immigration Policy. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2004. Print.
LeMay, Michael. Transforming America Perspectives on U.S. Immigration. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2013. Print.
Sarat, Austin. Forgiveness, Mercy, and Clemency. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 2007. Print.
Warry, Wayne. Unfinished Dreams Community Healing and the Reality of Aboriginal Self-government. Toronto: U of Toronto, 1998. Print.
Welch, Paul. “Our Moral Responsibility to Undocumented Central American Youth (Commentary).” Syracuse.com. 2014. Web.