Open and Closed Borders: the Effects on America



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The Census Bureau estimates that 450,000 illegal immigrants enter the United States each year” (Point: Immigration). Why are so many immigrants coming here illegally? “Immigrants leave their country of origin for a variety of reasons including employment, economic, social conditions, military conflict, and political turmoil” (Immigration Restrictions). What is the government doing to stop it?

Each year many immigrants enter the United States, a good number of them enter illegally, crossing the border without correct documentation, and living in the United States pretending to be legal citizens and reaping the benefits. Will open borders benefit the United States? Or, will it increase crime rate and destroy the economy? What does amnesty mean and how would it effect the 12 million illegal immigrants and United States citizens? In this paper the reader will examine the effects of open borders and the pro and con sides to the issue.

Savannah Miller in her term paper, Open and Closed Borders: The Effects on America, argues that open borders in the United States not only will increase terrorism and crime rates, but will destroy the United States economy. Miller supports her claim by thoroughly explaining the effects of open borders on America, how it would benefit and how it would not, and the pros and cons to each side. The author’s purpose is to inform the reader of the effects of open borders, the good and the bad sides, in order to prove that open borders would lead to no good. The author writes in an informational tone for the reader.

Chapter One

Immigration in America has a long history. This is because since the beginning of the nation, people from all over have been coming to America. In a technical sense all Americans, apart from Native Americans, have ancestors that were immigrants, people who came over from another nation. “In the early days [of America] immigrants were needed and encouraged” (Controversy). Once America became a nation it was small and lightly populated, it became apparent that immigrants would need to be the main source of population growth. America is a nation that began and was built from immigration.

Back then, immigration helped build up the population, strength, and economy of America. “But times brought changes, the frontier began backing up, competition brought conflict, group warfare appeared, labor, capital, religious, and racial elements began clamoring for protection from each other and especially from the stream of immigrants which continued to pour into the nation unrestricted” (Controversy). This is about the time when uncontrolled immigration became an issue. It was an issue that the American people and the government had not yet faced, and therefore nobody was quite sure how to respond.

During the great waves of immigration in the nineteenth century, Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Chinese immigrants all were discriminated against by Americans who disliked the fact that Immigrants took American jobs at reduced wages (Counterpoint: Amnesty). This is still a major part in America. Although there are less immigrants from the stated nationalities, the current immigrants in America are still being persecuted. “Congress responded in various ways and finally in the act of 1921… brought the ‘quota system’ as a measuring device for immigration restriction” (Controversy) This quota system was based on population.

The amount of a nation’s past immigrants that entered the United States determined the percentage of that nation population that was allowed to enter the United States. In the early stages of immigration reform, the government had put quotas that severely limited the number of immigrants who could enter the United States in 1882, 1921, and 1924 (Counterpoint: Amnesty). These were some of the first attempts at immigration reform in the United States. It caused a controversy because the quota system favored certain nation’s over others. “Admission was limited annually to 3% of each nationality or ‘national origin’” (Controversy).

This is the major reason the quota was controversial. The system would only allow 3%. Nations with higher populations could send over more immigrants, while a less populated nation would have a considerably smaller amount of immigrants that could enter the United States each year. “The quota as contained in the Quota Law of 1924, as in the current law, keeps the percentage on a basis which will restrict the total to approximately 150,000 immigrants annually” (Controversy).

All of the immigration policies devised by the government have been about maintaning a healthy population for the nation. Since 1924 there have been nine major reforms to the immigration policy. However, none have succeeded in eliminating illegal immigration” (Counterpoint: Amnesty). Illegal immigration is still a major part in American culture. Nine times it has tried to been defeated, but illegal immigration still has not been stopped. The biggest question is, will illegal immigration ever cease? If so, how?

Chapter Two

There are two sides to the argument of open and closed borders: there is a pro side and a con side. Many people agree that open borders would be a good idea.

These people believe that “… Punishment helps no one” (Point: Amnesty). America should be a place that can be freely entered, with no restrictions. Immigration and open borders benefit the country in many ways, for example open borders boosts the economy and also will lower crime and terrorist rates. Illegal resident in the United States already financially contribute to the nations wealth, so why not grant them amnesty and make immigration move freely with open borders? Opposers argue that open borders would not benefit the economy, but rather destroy it.

They also argue that open borders would increase crime and terrorist rates. Amnesty and open borders “… sends the message that breaking the law is acceptable” (Point: Immigration). Many are against open borders and amnesty because they believe it would be a “get out of jail free” card, so to speak, that none of the illegal immigrants would have to take responsibility for their actions, their illegal actions. “A June 2007 United Press International poll showed that 65% of Americans disapproved of illegal immigration, a sizeable percentage favored deportation” (Counterpoint: Amnesty).

Chapter Three

Legal immigrants must go through a very lengthy procedure to be able to enter the United States. About three million have applied since October 2002 and many are still waiting, some for as long as 17 years (Point: Immigration). This makes the issue of immigration seem like it is under control, but in reality, a lot of the time a person that is so desperate to enter the United States will not wait 17 years to take the legal route. There are many reasons why having open American borders would be a fatal decision for the nation.

Having open borders will require granting amnesty to all the illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. Open borders and amnesty would destroy the United States economy and increase crime and terrorist rates. It will also give the millions of illegal immigrants a pardon on their crimes, which is not okay. Firstly, Open borders would destroy the United States economy. “According to the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), legal and illegal immigration combined, costs the United States economy between $67 billion and $87 billion dollars a year” (Point: Immigration).

The United States economy is already in the red. Times are tough and the government should be spending money on benefiting the nation and her people, not on the people who sneak into America illegally and try to benefit from the nation’s resources. “Since many of these undocumented workers do not pay taxes on their wages, they contribute nothing to public services they enjoy in the United States”(Counterpoint: Amnesty). If illegal immigrants do not financially contribute to the United States economy, why allow it?

Why is the government not taking more productive steps in reducing or even eliminating the illegal immigration problem? Illegal immigrants are reaping the benefits that are only for contributing United States citizens. Rising costs in health care are partly due to the amount of illegal immigration. It has also cost many hospitals to close or go bankrupt due to laws demanding free urgent care to those illegal immigrants who can’t afford it (Point: Immigration). It is perfectly understandable to save a person’s life if they are dieing, no matter who they are or where they come from.

The only difference from that idea and what is happening is, that the undocumented residents are taking advantage of it. They are getting ‘special treatment’, and should that be allowed? Illegal Immigrants in the United States earn an estimated $60 billion dollars a year. $10 billion of that money earned was sent back to relatives in Mexico- more than the nations industry brings in, “This translates to a massive, illegal transfer of wealth from the United States to Mexico at the expense of unemployed, native United States workers” (Point: Immigration).

It is one thing for immigrant to legally come over from their nation and work to provide for their families back home, but it is a whole other thing to come over illegally and try to do the same thing. Illegal immigrants come over and take billions of dollars each year back to their home nation, this accounts for a huge loss in the United States money system. By allowing illegal immigrants to do this, Americans are basically writing Mexico a fat check worth billions of dollars. Also, “An estimated 40 to 50 percent of unemployment among lower-skilled American workers comes from immigrants seeking similar work” (Point: Immigration).

This means that American citizens are losing their jobs to people who are not even in this country legally. Unemployment rates have been higher than the past years. So many people have lost their jobs and are desperate for work, but they can not find any. They cannot find any work because these low paying jobs are being given to illegals who will work for less wages than an American citizens would. To restore the strength of the American economy, unemployment rates need to be lower. It is really as simple as that, when most Americans are working there is more cash flow within the nation, which eeps the money cycle flowing smoothly and effectively throughout the nation. Not only will amnesty and illegal immigration destroy the economy, but it will increase crime rates drastically.

“When immigrants enter the United States they are documented by federal authorities and their backgrounds can be checked”(Point: Immigrant). This means that all of the immigrants who cross illegally have not had a background check. These people could be major criminal and cause serious harm to American communities and citizens. The government must be able to keep track of all immigrants and foreign visitors who enter the county” (Point: Immigration).

The government needs to know who is in the country at all times for the safety of American citizens. It is extremely hard, if not impossible, for these officials to know and keep track of those who cross the border in secrecy. “Violence, robberies, and illicit drug trade are enormous problems all along the the United States-Mexico border” (Point: Immigration). Drugs are possibly the number one contribution from immigrants crossing the border from Mexico.

The United States-Mexican border is thousands of miles long, it is extremely difficult for agents to catch every single drug smuggling operation that enters into the United States. “The number of patrol agents along the US-Mexican border must increase, and the agents must be given adequate funds and authority to stop the flow of legal border crossings” (Point: Immigration). To effectively limit the problem of illegal immigration, enforcers of the law need to be furnished with the appropriate tools to do so. Border agents need effective funding to be able to accomplish their jobs.

Recently, there has been a huge page cut in all of the border agents wages, this affects not only their family life, but there work life as well. Because of this huge pay cut, funding has become extremely limited. The United States Border Patrol agency has had to make cuts from many places besides the agents wages, this includes equipment such as cars, trucks, and ATVs.

Also, because of fund cuts, there have been layoffs and work hour cuts as well. If these federal agents are nt ot equipped correctly, then there will be a major downturn in their ability to protect the border. Illegal immigration places an enormous strain on America’s resources and threatens national security” (Point: Immigration). What is the point of putting up with the illegal immigration if it is threatening to the nation? Illegal immigrants are criminals, they broke the law when they illegally crosses the border. Here in America, what happens to criminals? They are punished.

By allowing these undocumented people to reside within America, the government is basically allowing criminals to get away without punishment, it basically says breaking the law is alright with the government.. Illegal immigrants also played significant roles in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, a 1997 plot to bomb the New York City subway system, and other criminal acts” (Point: Immigration).

Over the years illegal immigration has shown that open borders are unsafe. With open borders anybody can enter, nobody would know who or for what purpose. Five of the nineteen airplane hijackers that terrorized the United States on September 11, 2001 were overstaying visas and courtly illegal (Point: Immigration). Continually past events have proven that sometimes illegal immigrants can be very dangerous.

Illegal immigrants have put this nation in danger many times, shouldn’t that be enough to realize open borders were be a terrible idea. “Amnesty would also give the 12 million undocumented residents currently living in the United States access to social services like social security, medicare, and unemployment insurance programs” (Point: Amnesty). These are all programs funded by American tax dollars. They broke the law and the government is practically rewarding them for it. The undocumented residents get to benefit and use the resources that were originally designed for Americans citizens only.

In 2003 illegal immigrants were granted the right to obtain drivers license. This has made it easier for illegal immigrants to receive jobs, travel with impunity, and receive free health care and other health care benefits (Point: immigration). Having a driver’s license is something that is a perk of being an American citizen. When illegal immigrants were granted the right to vote, the US government practically pardoned their crimes. True, they were not legal citizens, but having a license gave them some rights that United States citizens have. Drivers licence makes it easier for illegal immigrants to fraudulently register to vote”(Point: Immigration).

Voting is a right cherished by the United States citizens, it is what American’s love about their nation. Allowing undocumented, illegal residents to obtain a drivers license and helping them vote is an insult to the citizens of this nation. Illegal immigrants are practically already citizens with all of the rights the government is granting them. Open borders would only make things worse, illegal citizens will be pardoned for their crime with no punitive actions from the government.

Chapter Four

Amnesty and open borders would lower crime rate and possible terrorist attacks. Currently many undocumented residents are forced to use false identities and social security numbers to avoid being deported. With amnesty and open borders these illegal immigrants will be free to use their true identities which will help law enforcement focus on pursuing criminals and possible terrorists (Point: Amnesty). If the illegal immigrants currently in the United States were to be given amnesty they would no longer be afraid to use their true identities.

As long as borders are closed and amnesty is nowhere in sight, the illegal immigrants in the United States will have to resort to illegal measures to gain fake documentations to appear like a legal United States citizen. Many illegal immigrants can go on a website that will furnish them with documents that appear legitimate but are not (Counterpoint: Amnesty). Because of current border policies and the difficulty of legally entering the United States, many are forced to come in illegally. Illegal immigrants do not always want to be criminals and do illegal things, but a lot of the time they are doing it for their families.

Many aliens have come over to America to get low-paying jobs so they can support their families back home. According to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations, attempts to cross the border increase by 6% when Mexican wages drop 10% relative to the United States wages (Point: Amnesty). Everybody currently living in America knows the harsh conditions of the present day United States economy. It is the same situation in other countries except for their wages are lower a lot of the time. When America has an upturned economy, why not share the wealth?

It is apparent that times are hard for everyone. Jobs are hard to find and pay cuts are going around like the seasonal cold. Do you think it is only this way in America? No, of course not. Illegal immigrants are in the same situation only worse, a lot worse. Here, in America, the land of opportunity, they are seeking jobs that many Americans overlook. For example, facility jobs, landscaping or factory jobs are often occupied by immigrants because Americans see themselves as “too good” to work in such a low position with such low wages.

But in reality, the low wages here are actually enough for the illegal immigrants to support their families back home. Few Americans want the lower paying jobs anyhow, so why not fill them with people who are hardworking and need the money? Can the illegal immigrants really be blamed for coming over in hopes to make more money, than they would back home, to support their families? Illegal immigrants actually boost the United states economy as well. “Studies show that undocumented residents actually contribute more than they cost the country in social services” (Point:Amnesty).

Even though they are undocumented they still are a benefit to the United States. “Undocumented residents also contribute to the United States economy by consuming goods and services” (Point: Amnesty). The United States economy thrives off of money exchange, well any economy does. It is the idea of buying and selling, it keeps the cash flow and circulation running smoothly. If the United States kicked all the illegal immigrants out, think about the destruction of the United States economy.

So much money would be out of circulation, which is not good for any economy. Population growth is crucial to a healthy economy, and at present rates, immigrants and their children will account for 60% of the United States population growth in the next 45 years. As the baby boom generation begins to retire, immigrants will play a crucial role in filling the country’s human capital deficit. Within 20 years, immigrants and their children will account for most of our labor force growth” (Point: Amnesty”). The truth is America needs these immigrants to maintain their current position as one of the great power’s of the world. If borders are closed, a massive work force will be lost.

No workers means no work gets done. No work gets done equals no products made. Without product there is no international exchange of goods. Without exchange of good there is no exchange of money. No exchange of money means… well it means no money. Simple as that, immigrants are needed. Without open borders and easy access to citizenship, America’s economy will dwindle down, everything the American people have worked for will be lost. Many are against amnesty and open borders because they do not fully understand the process of obtaining citizenship and what it all means.

Merrian-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines amnesty “as the act of an authority (as a government) by which person is granted to a large group of individual” (def. 1). . This definition makes amnesty for illegal immigrants sound like they would get a free walk with no repercussions. This is not fully true. When someone hears the official definition of amnesty they are put off by the idea. Many do not understand, moreover, do not know the process of obtaining citizenship or conditions of amnesty. In short, the idea of amnesty would allow illegal aliens currently in the United States to apply for citizenship (Point: Amnesty).

Amnesty is a chance for illegal immigrants to retrace their tracks so to speak and achieve citizenship the honest, legal way. However, amnesty does not come without punishment. Punishment steps include an English language requirement, a $5000 fine, and a “touchback” plan requiring the head of each household to return to his or her home country in order to obtain a legal green card (Point: Amnesty). So, in reality, amnesty is not a free pass to American citizenship. “Congress should be doing everything in it’s power to make it as easy as possible for immigrants to work legally and freely in the United States” (Point: Amnesty).

As already stated, amnesty and open borders would severely benefit the United States nation. Many are against open borders because they have preconceived notions that all immigrants are bad, illegal or not. These notions are based purely on inaccurate information and biased racism. So many people believe that America is only for Americans. This is a ridiculous statement. America was created as a free and equal country, and it still stands for these values. It does not matter the color of one’s skin or their cultural background. “American” is not a race, but a description of a people that stand for pure and accepting values.

All men are created equal”, is this not a quote memorized and recited to this day? America is a nation built upon the core values of acceptance and equality, this is why so many only dream of coming to the great “melting pot” of the world. Acceptance is something that everybody wants, but if borders are closed, is this not a contradiction to the values the nation is built upon? How can America be a leading nation if it goes against it’s own core values? Not only does open borders make America an example to the world, but it also benefits the nation. Crime and terrorist rates will decrease while the American economy will increase. All in all, open borders will truly benefit everyone.

Chapter Five

Overall, the topic of open borders in America has many different views and arguments. However the final argument would be opposed to open borders. This does not mean absolutely closed borders are what would be wanted by the American people, it just means that open borders would be a bad idea. Many people are opposed to open borders, but many are for them as well. But, as earlier stated most Americans are against illegal immigration, and wish to stop it. A June 2007 United Press International poll showed that 65% of American disapproved of illegal immigration, a sizeable percentage favored deportation” (Counterpoint: Amnesty). This proves that the mass majority of Americans believe that open borders would be terrible idea.

Works Cited

  1. “Amnesty”. Merrian Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10 ed. , 2002 Bowman, Jeffrey Cushman, C. Ames. “Counterpoint: Amnesty Promotes Illegal Immigration”. Points Of View: Immigration Restrictions (2011):
  2. Points Of View Reference Center. Granite Hills High School Lib. Feb 21,2013. “Controversy over Immigration Policy”.
  3. Congressional Digest 35. 1 (1956):
  4. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 4 March 2013. Elbel, Fred. “How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the U. S.? – An Alternative Methodology for Discovering the Numbers”.
  5. The Social Contract. 2012. Granite Hills High School Lib. Feb 7,2013. . “Immigration”. Dictionary. com. Dictionary. com,n. d. Web. Feb 7. 2013 Issitt, Micah L. Walter, Andrew. “Immigration Restrictions: An Overview”.
  6. Points Of View: Immigration Restrictions (2011): 1. Points Of View Reference Center. Granite Hills High School Lib. Feb 7, 2013 . Keefe, Patrick Radden. “Cocaine Incorporated. The New York Times. 15 June 2012. Google. Web. 14 Mar. 2013. Pawlick, Peter Finley, Laura.
  7. “Point: Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants is a Practical and Just Solution”.
  8. Points Of View: Immigration Restrictions (2011): 2. Points Of View
  9. Center. Granite Hills High School Lib. Feb 7,2013. Pearce, Matt. “Point: Immigration Restrictions Must be Enforced”. Points Of View: Immigration Restrictions (2011): 5. Points Of View
  10. Reference Center. Granite Hills High School Lib. Feb 14,2013. Potter, Mark.
  11. “Illegal Drugs Flow over and under U. S. Border. ” NBC News, n. d. Web. 14 Mar. 2009.

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