“If current immigration laws had been enforced my son would be alive today! The fact that a LEGAL AMERICAN CITIZEN can be killed on the job site by an illegal alien while the Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries looked the other way should outrage every mother in Washington State” (K. Anderson). The pain of a child’s loss is one that any mother can understand. The emotions tied with such a loss are often used to appeal to political debates, including illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is an ongoing debate in our country given the multitude of problems with enforcement of the existing laws.
What is the problem?
Right now, the United States Government grants illegal immigrants the right to become legal US citizens. However, concerns over illegal immigration are at an all time high. Terrorism has become linked to the immigration issue, making it a highly political and polarizing issue. The answers are not very clear or easy. Most people immigrate because they are fleeing from violence and fear. They just want to give their families the opportunity to have a good life. America is a country that should be willing to help those in need, but terrorism and other issues have made the people worry about who is coming into the country a top concern. Wide open borders without check could lead to issues with security. These problems and concerns are only growing larger as random attacks take place throughout America. The security of America is at risk, and immigration has become a topic in which no one can agree. But just as it is important to think about the security of our country, it is just as important to remember the stories behind those who are forced to flee from their homes. According to one Syrian refugee who lost everything, “My life doesn’t exist anymore,” he says. “My future is lost, but I am worried about my children’s future. I feel like I can do nothing for them, and it’s awful” (Mouneer Kalthoum). Knowing and acknowledging these stories can help shape changes to our laws, but should not result in a dismissal of them.
The numbers of immigrants coming to this country are rising. “More than 10 million undocumented aliens currently reside in the U.S., and that population is growing by 700,000 per year” (Tim Kane Ph.D. and Kirk A. Johnson Ph.D.). This influx shows no signs of slowing down. For every hundred people, three are undocumented immigrants. The inability to understand who is in our country weakens national security as those who want to commit bad acts can enter the country under the guise of wanting a better life.
“According to government estimates, 40 percent of those in this country illegally are here because they overstayed their visas, and the rest sneaked across the border or hid in boats or planes” (Ulysses Arn). In other words, less than half of those here illegally started out with the proper documentation, but then chose to ignore the terms of their stay. The remainder ignored any attempts to enter legally. However, statistics alone do not always tell the full story, and it is important to understand the stories of the people living in our country illegally. Living in fear is a way of life for illegal immigrants who simply want to provide for their families. “We just want to be acknowledged in this society as human beings. I just want to be acknowledged that I exist. In general, I think you have to live in fear of being separated from your family any time, any moment” (Armando Ibanez). These fears are genuine and should be used to shape changes to our laws, but the emotions cannot negate the need for law and order.
If the United States simply disregarded the laws of immigration, chaos would result. More illegal immigrants would enter the country without fear of consequences and knowing they would receive benefits to which many legal citizens never receive. When they enter the country, American citizens pay the price through aid given to these immigrants. While we should help those in need, we forget about the millions of homeless already living in our country and take away resources that could help people living in the streets. It would also be rewarding bad behavior to allow legal status to those coming into the country illegally. Those who follow the process would lose incentive to do it the right way, since following the law does not matter. It is critical to know who is coming into the country and living in it. Yes, America is a land of immigrants, but issues of safety, security, terrorism and other things are so much bigger than they were when our ancestors immigrated to America. We have a responsibility to protect people in the country from preventable harm.
Risks of illegal immigration
The risk of terrorists entering the country is not without merit. One study found that “of the 94 foreign-born terrorists who operated in the United States,…about two-thirds (59) committed immigration fraud prior to or in conjunction with taking part in terrorist activity.” Also, “of the 59 terrorists who violated the law, many committed multiple immigration violations — 79 instances in all.” (Janice Kephart). For a total, only 20-21 of the foreign born terrorists actually became United States citizens. The lack of any form of tracking of those entering our country exposes us to the possibility of harm. These statistics are frightening given the increasing risks we are facing in the United States to random acts of terrorism.
Human traffickers are also a huge problem in relation to people crossing the border. These people take desperate people wanting to find a better life in America, place them in terrible conditions and expose them to danger. Some people also call these traffickers smugglers or coyotes. “Whatever name they give their profession, these individuals pose as saviors to those who are in need of transport but they are really cold-blooded about financial matters. They often figure as greater dangers than those from which they promise to save their customers as they maneuver wilderness or urban jungle” (Sam Moser). They will do anything to get money for innocent people. People are trafficking because the United States does not always enforce its immigration laws, and they can get away with it. They are able to find jobs, get driver’s licenses, obtain federal and state aid, among other things. These factors make illegal immigration, while risky, a very attractive option for people who want a better life. These traffickers exploit illegal immigrants and often cause their deaths.
Drug cartels are also near the border and will not stop for anything until they get their products across the border. “If they perceive that an immigrant is in the way or has seen too much, they have been known to kill” (Sam Moser). Sadly, a few illegal immigrants have purchased a passage to carry illegal drugs across the border, even though some do not even survive the crossing of the border. By allowing illegal immigrants to benefit from wrongfully crossing the borders, we have created and increased criminal activity in these areas.
Arguments can be made both for and against illegal immigration. It can be argued that there are benefits to granting citizenship to illegal citizens. Government will receive more taxable income. It contributes to diversity of America. Also, welfare dollars would be going toward legal American citizens.
How they help with the economy?
Illegal Immigrants are vital to certain industries and very vital to agriculture industries. “According to the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, there were 8.4 million unauthorized immigrants employed in the U.S.; representing 5.2 percent of the U.S. labor force” (H. A. Goodman). Agriculture is entirely independent on illegal immigrants, without them, that industry would collapse. Often, people look at immigrants as only taking American resources, rather than contributing and increasing them.
Video of the International workers day march in Martin Luther King Park in South to downtown Minneapolis Convention Center Minneapolis, by Fibonacci Blue.
On the other side of the coin, illegal immigrants can cause a drain on resident’s funds. “Many who immigrate illegally to the United States do not keep their funds here” as they often send the money back to their own countries to benefit their families back home (Breana Noble). It is also very unfair to the people who legally came into America and went through the long process of immigrating. A growing disregard for the law may make legal immigration impossible to enforce. It may also lead to worsening problems because some believe that amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the United States, opens the door as an incentive to other undocumented travelers to come to the country. While it is not the case for most, some illegal immigrants think that they will be able to get away with illegal things in America because their home country will provide amnesty.
Illegal Immigration is wrong for this country
The United States simply cannot afford the costs associated with illegal, undocumented people entering the country. We have laws in place that allow for legal immigration as well as protecting the rights of all citizens of our country. Our ancestors went through a painstaking process to immigrate legally to America. New immigrants today should also be required to comply with the laws we establish for the process. These laws were created to ensure that the rights of all are protected. To allow people to simply disregard immigration laws can open a Pandora’s box to the dismissal of other important laws in our country.
Worse yet, America lives with the ongoing threat of terrorism. It is impossible to ignore random and violent acts of terror occurring all over the world today, including in America. The risks are simply too great to ignore. Unfortunately, we live in a time that is very different from the immigration of 100 years ago or more. Our population is greater than ever, and the lives of many American citizens must be balanced in relation to the needs of those seeking to immigrate.
It is important to remember that we have a duty to help those in need, including those who seek to immigrate to America, and we should do what we can to help those in desperate situations. However, we are a nation of laws. These laws protect our citizens. If we expect our own citizens to be law-abiding, we must expect the same of those coming into this country. If they really wanted to live in America for the right reasons, they have a process in place that assures that their rights as well as those in this country are protected.