Should They Stay or Should They Go?

At the young age of 11, Antonio Alarcon made the tough, and illegal journey to America with his parents. Antonio’s parents knew how difficult the journey was, and because of this Antonio’s younger brother was forced to stay in Mexico with his grandparents. During the illegal border crossing they had very little water and food. After three days, they made it to their destination in Arizona. They then took an uncomfortably cramped car ride to Los Angeles, then flew to New York. A few years went by, and Antonio and his parents were informed that Antonio’s grandfather died. Shortly after that, his grandmother died. Antonio’s parents went back to Mexico to take care of his little brother. Antonio was left all alone in America for his best chance.

Antonio is just one of the estimated 11.4 million illegal immigrants living in the United States of America (as of 2012).

Compare this to the 42.4 million legal immigrants living in America (as of 2014). Why are there so many illegal immigrants? And what should  be done about them?

Why do people come here (illegally)?

There are many different reasons as to why people come to America.

Here is a short list of some:

  • To be reunited with their family.
  • Get the chance to have an education or better education.
  • In order to get a good paying jobs or for the economic opportunities.
  • The freedom to practice their religion.
  • To seek shelter from their home country.

The United States only recognizes three main reasons to grant immigrants permission into America. According to the American Immigration Council the three causes are employment, family reunification, and humanitarian protection. All of these need special requirements to be meet in order for the people to be legally granted into the United States. And they all have special caps that number the amount of people they will let in.

From the same source, the American Immigration Council, the caps are:

  • 140,000 for employment immigrants
  • 260,000-480,000 for families (unlimited for immediate families)
  • 85,000 for humanitarian protection

These caps are not the only thing that prevent many people from being able to enter the U.S. legally. Being granted into the United States could take months, if not, years. According to Dan Moffett, who is an immigration issues expert, explains the situation for the amount of time it takes as there being “[…] no simple answer. The government considers each applicant on a case-by-case basis and factors in many variables, such as quotas set by Congress, as well as the applicant’s country of origin and personal profile.”

Due to both of these limitations, it forces many people to have to enter the country illegally. Even if they do not want to, some people cannot wait the amount of time it takes because their home life or their country are not safe. Another reason is they may not have enough resources (such as money), or enough help to make it to the United States of America legally.

What do we think and do to illegal immigrants?

The American people have a mixed view as to what we should do about illegal immigrants. A survey done by Pew Research Center shows that 72% of United States Citizens think we should allow certain illegal immigrants to find a way to stay legally. While 27% thought they should be deported with no way to stay and 2% did not answer. Although a majority of people who took the survey think we should allow illegal immigrants to stay, deportation rates have been at an all time high.

While Obama has been in office, the government has deported over 2.5 million illegal immigrants. 2012 was the  height of deportation under Obama with over 400,000 illegal immigrants deported. Deportation rates have gone down since and about 250,000 undocumented immigrants were deported in 2015.

Obama pushed in June of this year (2016) for an immigration reform plan that would have granted deportation relief along with work permits to illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents. This plan would have impacted more than 4 million illegal immigrants living in Texas. Sadly, the Supreme Court tied on their decision and Obama’s immigration reform plan was not passed.

After the bill failed to pass, Obama did not want innocent undocumented immigrants to be afraid of having their dreams destroyed. He made a statement saying, “[a]s long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

According to CNN, out of all the illegal immigrants deported last year (2015) the U.S. 56% (177,960) were convicted criminals. There is not definitive number of how many  illegal immigrants commit crimes, but it has been heavily supported with research that “immigration is associated with lower crime rates.” It also states, “2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma.”

But if you ask Donald Trump illegal immigrants are the ones “bringing crime.”

What are Donald Trump’s plans for immigration?

  • Building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which he plans that Mexico will pay for.
  • Deporting criminal illegal immigrants on day one, which he thinks is about 2-3 million people.
  • Enforcing all immigration laws and triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
  • Ending the catch-and-release program.
  • He also wants to end sanctuary cities.

This is just a section of president-elect Donald Trump’s ridiculous 10 point immigration plan

Donald Trump wants to set in motion the mass deportation of 2-3 million ‘criminal’ illegal immigrants on day one of his presidency. Trump said during his speech in phoenix “[t]hose here illegally today, who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only: To return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else.”

But according to The Atlantic, Donald Trump’s plans for legal immigration  “would reduce legal immigration through 2065 by tens of millions […] such a reduction, or anything like it, would have huge implications for population and workforce growth.”

Not only would all illegal immigrants have to go leave the country, with no chance of being able to stay, it would be even harder for them to get back into the country legally. It’s understandable why people would be scared.

What if we just deport all illegal immigrants?

Mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants currently living here would cost the United States $600 billion. Not only would it cost a fortune, it would cause mass hysteria. The chaos that would ensue from the government trying to find all of the undocumented immigrants would create a police state. It would make no one, including US citizens, feel safe. No immigrant would want to leave their homes whether or not they came here legally or illegally in fear of being threatened with deportation just because they were born somewhere else.

If we went through with mass deportation millions of families would be destroyed. Families may never get to see each other again. Fathers might never be able to walk their daughter down the aisle of their weddings. Parents might never get to see their children graduate from high school, or maybe even just finish elementary school. People who lived and worked in the United States to make their dreams come true would lose all hope.

Illegal immigrants are not just illegal things in our country. They are human beings. They deserve the right to be heard, and listened to. Just because they are here illegally does not automatically mean they are participating in illegal activity. If the only crime they have committed is having to come to the U.S. illegally because the laws to legally immigrate are too tough for some, why should they be forced to leave?


featured image by Jonathan McIntosh on


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