The debate on whether to grant illegal immigrants in the United States amnesty or not, is very controversial. On the one hand, there are those who argue that illegal immigrants should not be granted amnesty. They maintain that there is need to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the United States drastically because they displace American workers, thereby putting a strain on the economy.
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In addition, illegal immigrants also drain the resources of social services. In addition, they put a strain on the resources of the criminal justice system. On the other hand, proponents of the debate argue that illegal immigrants can be a resource to the economy and the workforce and as such, they should be granted amnesty. The current essay is an endeavor to explore the debate of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. Consequently, the pros and cons of the debate shall be examined.
Illegal immigrants should not be granted amnesty
Illegal immigrants are a threat to the US workforce and economy because they tend to displace American workers. Displacement results in a loss of nearly two million American jobs every year. In this case, the American workers are replaced by illegal immigrants, who often work for substandard wages (Dudley 32). It is very hard for American workers to compete with illegal immigrants because they are ready to be paid far less wages than the American workers.
In the high-immigration states, many of the African-Americans working as restaurant workers, constructions workers, janitors, security guards, farm workers, child care workers, and taxi drivers are being denied their opportunities to work by illegal immigrants (Dudley 34). Whereas one can argue that competition brings about positive results in a capitalist society, nonetheless, competition by these imported foreign workers is unfair (Dudley 34).
Because there is no documentation for illegal immigrants who work or reside in the United States, it becomes very hard to ascertain the statistics of their national expense. Having said that, a study conducted in 1992 showed that nearly 80 % of all the illegal immigrants came from five states namely, Texas, California, Illinois, Florida and New York.
At the same time, it emerged that illegal immigrants cost the local, states, and federal government an estimated $ 2. 9 billion (Landes 114). By 2002, the figure had increased dramatically to $ 10 billion. In California alone, illegal immigrants cost the federal government $ 150 million in healthcare and Medicaid, while a further $ 368 million catered for their incarceration (Schlafly 4).
As the number of illegal immigrants in the United States increases, this stretches the resources of the criminal justice system further. To start with, the process of immigration is in itself a form of crime. The border between the United States and Mexico is especially notorious with illegal immigrants. In 1992, the border patrol guards caught 565,581 illegal immigrants as they attempted to enter into the United States (Brimelow 235). We also need to note that most of the illegal immigrants are smuggled into the United States by cartels, and this is an illegal process as well. This is a sign that the implementation of immigration laws has relaxed.
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Granting amnesty to illegal immigrant is akin to forgiving their illegal actions. Before 1986, the United States had never granted amnesty to a large group of illegal immigrants, and only individual cases qualified. However, the passing of the Immigration Reform Control Act by Congress in 1986 granted amnesty to all illegal immigrants working in the agriculture sector, as well as those who had avoided law enforcement for nearly four years.
Due to chain migration, immigrants who have been granted amnesty brought with them an estimated 142,000 dependants, most of them family members (Federation for American Immigration Reform para. 5). In light of this, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants only results in more illegal immigrants. For example, there was a dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrants in the United States following the 1986 amnesty. Statistics from the Census Bureau 2000 show that each year, between 700,000 and 800,000 new immigrants enter into the United States (Schlafly 5).
In spite of this increase, an amnesty does not benefit either those being amnestied or our society. According to a study carried out by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, for every 10 years, an alien who has been granted amnesty in the United States earns below $ 9,000 annually (Schlafly 6). Because amnestied aliens lack financial support, by granting them with amnesty, Congress is in fact overburdening the taxpayers since they have to support them anyway.
Illegal immigrants should be granted amnesty
In spite of overwhelming statistics showing that illegal immigrants should not be granted amnesty, there are still other individuals who are convinced that illegal immigrants can benefit the United States in a positive way. They argue that the United States needs more workers and as long as working conditions remains decent, illegal immigrants are not a threat to the American workforce (Dudley 38). However, such individuals seem to be ignorant of the legal immigration rules in the United States.
When we ignore such legality, this only creates more problems. There are also those who support the claim that because the United States was founded by immigrants, we need to support the illegal immigrants. According to these proponents, there is the need to reward individuals living in the United States illegally as long as they are living hard-working and stable lives in the face of hardships (Dudley 38).
Such a position has not taken into account all the facts. The decision by Congress in 1986 to grant amnesty to over 6 million illegal immigrants in the United States did not alleviate the problem as anticipated. Instead, it only seemed to have encouraged illegal immigrants, as evidenced by the increased number of illegal immigrants each year.
Proponents of the idea to grant amnesty to illegal immigrant argue that because illegal immigrants often take jobs that a majority of the Americans would not even consider taking. Such a stand fails to consider the issue of job displacement. The truth is that as long as Americans are paid decent wages, they will take all kinds of jobs. The fact that illegal immigrants are desperate means that they will take any kind of job and as such, many employers end up exploiting them.
Illegal immigrants should not be granted amnesty by the United States government. This is because when the government offered amnesty to illegal immigrants in 1986, this resulted in an overwhelming increase in the number of illegal immigrants. Those granted amnesty went ahead and brought in members of their family illegally.
Illegal immigrants are also a strain to the healthcare and social security cost, with the taxpayers having to foot the bill. Since illegal immigrants have failed to comply with the immigration rules, it is becomes very hard for the government to include them in its official budgetary allocation because they cannot be accounted for.
Brimelow, Peter, Alien Nation, New York: Random House, 1995. Print.
Dudley, William, Illegal Immigration: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Print.
Federation for American Immigration Reform. “What’s Wrong With Illegal Immigration?” 2005.
Landes, Alison, Immigration and Illegal Aliens: Burden or Blessing? Wylie, TX: Information Plus, 1981. Print.
Schlafly, Phyllis. “Rising Costs of Tolerating Illegal Aliens.” The Phyllis Schlafly Report, 36.7 (2000): 1-6.