There are over eleven million of them, cultivating the American fields, building houses and towers, cooking in restaurant kitchens, studying in American schools, detention centers and immigration courts. Presently, illegal immigration is a debatable topic for many, especially with the new president in the White House. A fair number of U.S. citizens and none-citizens agree that illegal immigrants are beneficial to our country and deserve an amnesty. Illegal immigrants are people just like us. These people may have been forced out of their country due to several issues and now they are seeking a place to call home.
A person can be termed as an illegal immigrant when he or she is a foreigner to that country without documentation. Conservatives refer to them as “illegal immigrants”, proving their point of violating the law of immigration, Liberals prefer the term “undocumented immigrants” as they are advocating for their rights, either way, they are people who reside in this country. There is a disconnect between public opinion and immigration reform policy in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are vital to U.S. by contributing to the agriculture, low paying jobs, entrepreneurship, and the taxes they pay our government.
During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, there were nearly continuous hesitation among voters about how seriously to take his promises. As unauthorized immigrants are being forced out of this country and living with the fear of being deported, we need to take a look at their contributions to our nation. “U.S. farms depend on foreign laborers to perform seasonal farm work. Escalante conducted a study which proved that Organic Farms solemnly rely on undocumented immigrants to lower their cost.” (Escalante 2013) We need to embrace the diversity within our country.
Not everyone is willing to have a seasonal job and be paid below the minimum wage. “California’s fields provide more of the nation’s food than any other state — its cash farm receipts in 2015 represented nearly 13 percent of the US total, according to a report from the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture. And according to the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), conducted by the Department of Labor, about half of all crop farm workers in the US are not legally authorized to work in the country.” (Varinsky 2017) Farmers are crucial to our ecological footprints and how we treat our planet. Not only does the food feed our families, but the cycle of farming saves the earth’s natural resources. “If Trump follows through on his promises of mass deportations, the agricultural economy in California and elsewhere would be severely damaged.” (Varinsky 2017)
Undocumented immigrants fill in the gap when it comes to low paying jobs; jobs that a college graduate doesn’t want to do. Although, I am not an unauthorized immigrant, but as a refugee I know how desperate you can be for a job in a foreign country. “Undocumented immigrants hold more white-collar jobs and fewer blue-collar jobs today than they did before the national recession of 2007-2009, but most remain concentrated in lower-skilled, low-paying jobs, ‘much more so than U.S.-born workers,’ according to a report released by the Pew Research Center in the District.” (Constable 2015) This country is reliant on cheap labor that substantial portions of the economy are built largely on the backs of immigrants willing to do work most Americans won’t, and for lower pay. “In Texas, 1.1 million unauthorized immigrant workers made up 8.5 percent of the state’s total labor force, concentrated in industries like agriculture, hospitality and especially construction, where an estimated 25 percent of workers were unauthorized.” (Hill 2016) But these people who are willing to the jobs we don’t want to do have to go through many loopholes in order to be employed.
Since public opinion is made up of the views held by a group of people, it can easily be influenced by racial and ethnic stereotypes. In the public’s view, the undocumented — the people living here without authorization from the American government — are Hispanic, mostly Mexican. Our political views have always been up for negotiation and change. To simplify it, there has always been a more dominant figure ruling over the smaller and the less significant. We have to remember that not all undocumented immigrants are criminals. “People who enter the United States without documents are usually motivated by profound economic need, a need that animates them to embark on a dangerous and uncertain journey. Poverty places them in a position of vulnerability that often proves to be an asset to their U.S. employers. Eager for employment, they often accept difficult, irregular and low-paying jobs they can do without being fluent in English.” (Nelson 2016)
Mass media is, for most Americans, the primary source of information on just about everything. But if we all do our research individually and dig a little deeper, we can see that the “Ventura County farm bureau estimates as many as 36,000 field workers bring in the county’s crops of citrus, avocado and strawberries in peak harvest season, and that 95 percent of them are foreign-born.” (Hamilton 2017) The media only shows one side of the story, the “illegal immigrants” demanding amnesty, and do not show the other, where we are reliant on their contributions to this country. They are families and workers who are trying to build a better life and provide a safe environment for themselves and their children.
Additional influences likely to impact public opinion on immigration are geographic region and proximity. Everyone has multiple identities: religious, professional, racial, ideological and more. We are all very different, but these days, it has become more common to line up behind one party despite our identity differences. Foreigners are viewed differently, but we need to keep in mind that some of most valuable contributors in our nation are immigrants. “Foreign-born entrepreneurs have been a prominent feature of America’s economic landscape for decades. Iconic American companies founded or co-founded by immigrants include Dow, AT&T, DuPont, Levi Strauss, Anheuser-Busch, Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Sun Microsystems, Google, Yahoo, eBay, YouTube, PayPal, Tesla, Facebook, and LinkedIn.” (Dearie and Hathaway 2017)
Immigration issue in the U.S. has mostly been about citizens versus non-citizens, English speakers set against foreign language speakers, and whites as opposed to non-whites. A study released by the Center for American Entrepreneurship found that “43 percent of Fortune 500 companies — and 57 percent of the top 35 companies — were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants. These companies are headquartered in 68 metro areas across 33 states and employ millions of Americans.” (Dearie and Hathaway 2017) Language, the color of our skin, or a piece of paper doesn’t represent who we are nor does it signify our abilities.
Immigration has formed the United States as a nation since the first settlers arrived over 400 years ago. Immigrants have helped and contributed to the U.S. economy. “Unauthorized immigrant workers and their employers contributed $13 billion in payroll taxes in 2010, its most current estimate according to Pew Research.” (Blanco 2017) With our nation’s debt we need this kind of revenue. Public’s view might be that the undocumented immigrants are using up our resources, when in reality they qualify for the bare minimum when it comes to federal funding. “Many undocumented workers have fake Social Security cards that they show their employers, who in turn submit W-2 forms and federal tax payments on their behalf. Even if the Social Security numbers don’t actually link to anyone on file, the government gladly accepts the payroll taxes it receives, no questions asked.” (Green 2017)
However, that fake Social Security card does not work when it comes to welfare, insurance, food stamps and so forth. A 2016 study by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, a left-leaning research organization, estimated that “undocumented immigrants pay $11.64 billion in state and local taxes in 2013, equivalent to about 8 percent of their total income. This includes sales and excise taxes on goods and services ($6.9 billion), property taxes ($3.6 billion) and personal income taxes ($1.1 billion, assuming a 50 percent compliance rate).” (Qui 2016)
With the evidence provided and fact checking the misguided information fed to us by the media, we can see how the public’s opinion is merely a reflection of political ideology, influence of the media, demographic factors, racial and ethnic stereotypes. For a nation based on immigrants and immigration, the United States hardly ever regulates its immigration policies, basically because the politics about immigration can be extremely disruptive. As our nation grows and there are more representative with different ethnic backgrounds, I hope that we gain more tolerance to solve our differences. Political parties are made up of people motivated by specific ideologies, and they work to influence the direction of the party.
It’s true that conservatives dominate the primary process in the Republican Party. Political ideology is a certain, unique, personal collection of values and beliefs that one possesses. It’s an internal perspective of best practices and approaches to policy. There exists a myriad of ideologies as every person has slightly differing beliefs and values based on their unique perspectives and individual backgrounds. Given this information, we can see a trend in the past 25 years that there has been a significant growth in with the liberals. Therefore, with liberalism on the rise, we hope that soon there will be justice for the undocumented immigrants.