Illegal Immigration Paper Essay
The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom to many, is engraved with the famous poem, “New Colossus”, by Emma Lazarus. It reads, “… give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! ” Our country embraces diversity, yet one of the most controversial and debated topics in the United States is immigration. The founders of the United States were immigrants themselves, heroes that believed in equality and acceptance for all people.
Immigration has and will always be a vital part of our nation’s diversity, economic stability, and rich culture. Although, in a post 9-11 world, should security trump diversity? Should we have to choose between being safe and being amiable? Currently we have one of the most relaxed systems of legal immigration in the world, letting in more immigrants than most other countries (Bowman). Much of our expansive border is unguarded, leaving us vulnerable to attack.
Its opponents present illegal immigration as a grave danger to the American way of life, while its supporters tout it as an opportunity for cultural diversity.
The first modern immigration law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, was passed in 1986. IRCA made it illegal to knowingly hire, or recruit, undocumented immigrants (immigrants who do not possess lawful work authorization)(Pawlick). It also required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, and granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided here for a long period (Pawlick). Year after year millions of illegal immigrants penetrate U. S. borders and settle in the larger cities seeking opportunities of employment.
Many do not pay taxes on their low wages, contributing little to the benefits they enjoy, such as Welfare, schools, and hospitals (Bowman). Throughout 19th century, when the first waves of immigrants came to the United States, many Americans disliked the fact that the new inhabitants took local jobs at extremely low wages. Since then Americans have been promoting limits on legal immigration (Bowman). The government issued new quotas (in 1882, 1921, and 1924), which restrict the ratio of immigrants to citizens. Since the last quota in 1924, there have been many reform attempts at the immigration policy.
Current estimates show that approximately 12 million illegal immigrants currently reside within the United States, with an additional 1 million arriving each year (Pawlick). Recently, due to a surge in violence along the border, Congress authorized the deployment of over 6,000 National Guard troops along the Mexico-U. S. border. They were sent to assist in the fortification of the border and in the capture and arrest of illegal immigrants (Update: U. S. -Mexico). Within several months of deployment, the number of arrests made by the U. S. border patrol dropped by about 30%.
Since its proposal in 2004, president Bush has supported his “guest worker” program, which would allow a special status for temporary amnesty, while working in the U. S. , but requiring them to return home after a period of time (Update: U. S. -Mexico). Congress finally accepted Bush’s idea as a provision in the Senate’s 2007 immigration bill, the Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act (S 1348), which passed. It provides border security funding and includes a guest worker program which allowed illegal immigrants that had been in the U. S. etween 2 and 5 years would be given the opportunity to get “guest worker” status and those who had been here for longer than 5 years got eligibility for citizenship, after a long waiting period (up to 11 years) (Update: U. S. -Mexico). The clashes within the federal government are halting the security of our country. We must decide, unilaterally, on the best way to solve the issues surrounding illegal immigration. Immigration is necessary for a country’s diversity and economy. The new people provide an infusion of cultural understanding, bolster the labor force, and help create the unique land of the United States of America.
The United States is a major attraction for those seeking employment. We have a myriad of available jobs, especially in the services and agricultural sectors and it is widely accepted that immigrants play an important role in those economic sectors especially (Update: Immigration). Approximately 12 million immigrants enter the United States illegally with an estimated 1 million more each year, many of them looking for such opportunities (Pawlick). These 12 million live in oppression, fearing daily of being deported.
They cannot get those well paying, legitimate jobs and are forced to work for next-to-nothing, some even turning to crime. A simple solution would be to grant amnesty to all of these people, allowing them to stay in our country, and work within our system instead of against it. In documenting these people, we also help the fight against terrorism and crime by eliminating the need for illegal immigrants to obtain falsified identification. They can be properly processed and legalized and more of the federal and local government’s resources can be spent on catching actual criminals.
The recent bolstering of the U. S. -Mexico border is seen as ineffective and unwarranted. Although strict detaining and deporting immigrants may be effective in the short-term, it does not resolve the issue completely. The push-pull factor (the poverty and politics pushes them out of their homelands while prosperity and promised freedom pulls them to the U. S. ) is so great that immigrants will attempt to overcome any obstacle. Controlling illegal immigration through border enforcement alone will never be enough to eliminate illegal border crossing, so long as there are vacant American jobs to fill.
If we allow more immigrants to enter legally, and without prejudice, then it would be apparent that those crossing the border illegally are most likely up to no good. There is no doubt that immigration is vital to the United States. Immigrants provide a well-balanced labor force, enrich our country with culture, and diversify our population. It seems that anyone would want an abundance of immigrants, but we don’t we look at all the bad things that seem to come with immigration, poverty, crime, and economic strain. Today, an even more serious threat is presented with lax immigration policy, terrorism.
In allowing immigrants to cross our borders unchecked, we run the risk of letting terrorists in to our country. Some say that we must secure the borders, cut down on legal immigration, and abolish illegal immigration completely, that we must do whatever it takes to stop terrorists from entering the country (Update: Immigration). Others say that we should allow a more open policy, help the poverty-stricken people that seek our land of opportunity, while still policing the immigrants for potential threats. Personally, I feel very ambivalent over immigration reform, contrary to my previous belief of closing the borders.
The allure of the United States of America and its liberty is so great that people will risk their lives to expirience it. My ancestors came here in the early 20th century, seeking economic prosperity and political freedom, most of today’s immigrants are doing the same. Should we deny the freedom for defense, and would we deny our own rights for a promise of security? Works Cited Bowman, Jeffrey. “Counterpoint End Illegal Immigration Now. ” Points of View: Immigration Restrictions. 2007. Points of View Reference Center. EBSCOhost. CHS LMC. 14 March 2008 . “A Closer Look at the U. S. ’s Stance on Legal Immigration. Issues and Controversies On File 23 March 2007. Issues and Controversies. Facts On File News Services. CHS LMC. 11 March 2008 . Pawlick, Peter. “Point: Amnesty is a Practical and Just Solution. ” Points of View : Immigration Restrictions. 2007. Points of View Reference Center. EBSCOhost. CHS LMC. 14 March 2008 . “Update: Immigration. ” Issues and Controversies On File. 3 March 2007. Issues and Controversies. Facts on File News Services. CHS LMC. 11 March 2008 . “Update: U. S. -Mexico Border Enforcement. ” 3 March 2007. Issues and Controversies . Facts On File News Services. CHS LMC. 11 March 2008.