The United States of America has always been a major port of immigration but over 11 million immigrants are entering in the United States illegally, which is creating a division amongst Americans. There’s a clear line that separates legal and illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants are individuals who were granted lawful permanent residence in all means. They come in many forms, but the most common ones include refugees, granted asylee status, and individuals deeming economic and political stability.
Yet, the Center for Media and Democracy defined illegal immigration as “migration of people across national border in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destined country” (www.procon.org). Illegal immigration occurs in many different forms, but the most common ones include undocumented entrants, visa violators, and individuals who use fraudulent documents to gain access to the entrance into the States. Illegal immigration ignited a lot of debate on America’s economic and labor market, immigrant’s rights, and their access to services, whether the DREAM Act and DACA good for the country, and if the government should allow illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. All of which brings its own positives and negatives.
Illegal immigrants contribute to our society in many ways and can be reflected in our economy, taxes, and law-abiding individuals. To begin with, the large-scale population of 11 million illegal immigrants will make it very difficult for the government to deport them from their families and their lives in America. Rather than trying to do the impossible and inhumane, the government should pave the way for these immigrants to earn their way to legal status or citizenship. As former president Barack Obama said, “for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship” (www.procon.org). He also mentioned how the process would be long for those who came here illegally but it will be a fair process consisting of many steps including background check, paying taxes and penalty, learning English, and then going behind individuals who are trying to come here legally. An implication of this process will bring significant economic gains and strengthen our country.
According to an article from Thinkprogress, researchers found that “immigrants who are only eligible for legal status, but not citizenship, would contribute about $832 billion to the economy in a ten-year period, add 121,000 more jobs per year, and pay $109 billion in taxes over a ten-year period. Compare that to a situation where illegal immigrants are granted legal status and citizenship at the same time, the U.S. GDP would grow by $1.4 trillion over a ten year periods, immigrants would help to create an additional 203,000 jobs per year, and add $184 billion in tax revenue” (www.procon.org). These statistics strongly shows how the economy would grow just from getting a legal status to naturalization. As illegal immigrants pay state and local taxes, both legal and unauthorized exceed the costs of the services they utilize. In fact, each year they add billions of dollars in social security, Medicare, unemployment taxes, and in sales yet they are not included in any of the government benefits.
When it comes to constitutional rights, undocumented immigrants are entitled to constitutional rights according to the High Court’s ruling Almeida-Sanchez v. United States which declared that regardless of the legal status, non-citizens are protected by the Constitution’s criminal based amendments (self-incrimination, trial by jury, search and seizure, and freedom of expression). In addition to that, the Constitution protects undocumented residents when it comes to public education since the 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision. There are some exceptions to the constitutional rights include right to vote, possession of firearms, and right to public subsidies The courts have ruled that, “while they are within the borders of the United States, undocumented workers are granted the same fundamental, undeniable constitutional rights granted to all Americans” (www.procon.org).
Next, illegal immigrants bring many advantages to the American workers. The workforce industry consists of approximately 50% immigrants who don’t have a high school diploma and of those 50% consists of individuals who are unauthorized to work and don’t speak English well. Therefore, these individuals end up working in those occupations where US born workers don’t prefer to or that requires little interaction with people and doesn’t require much skill set or licenses to acquire a job. In addition to that, there has been declining number of U.S. born workers without college education which leads to less competition for lower level jobs that requires less education and the kind immigrants get, so the immigrants are replacing, not displacing U.S born workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of the top 10 occupations with the highest employment growth, 8 of them do not require a high school diploma.
Lastly, acts such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) act brings administrative relief from deportation and legal status. These acts gave the illegal immigrants a hope and a chance to step forward and go through a background check process in order to work in the States legally, get education and contribute to the society as a whole. As President Trump is undermining this program, him and his administration are going against America’s values and what it stands for (land of freedom and opportunity) and separating families, ending their American Dream. There should be a fine line between illegal immigrants who have committed a serious crime versus illegal immigrants who have committed minor or no crime when it comes to making decisions regarding deportation.
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