Illegal immigration is one of the most challenging problems facing the United States. The number of illegal immigrants entering America constantly increases. This paper argues that illegal immigrants to the U.S. must be granted amnesty, while eliminating employment opportunities for future immigrants and criminalizing illegal overstay on the American territory. The paper includes a brief discussion of the illegal immigration problem affecting the U.S. Reasons why illegal immigrants should and should not be granted amnesty are analyzed.
Keywords: illegal immigration, amnesty, U.S.
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Amnesty for Immigrants
Illegal immigration has become one of the most serious issues facing the United States. Every year, thousands of illegal immigrants cross the American border in their search of a better life. Illegal immigration has far-reaching impacts on the economic and social situation in the country: the financial costs of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. cannot be underestimated. However, most illegal immigrants currently working in the U.S. pay huge taxes and bonuses but receive no social, economic, or employment guarantees. In light of the existing controversies, illegal immigrants should be granted amnesty, while also eliminating employment opportunities for future immigrants and criminalizing illegal overstay on the American territory.
Illegal immigration is rightly considered as one of the biggest global problems in the developed world. The past decades witnessed a sharp increase in the number of people moving illegally to the U.S. The Census Bureau forecasts that, by 2050, the U.S. population will be 400 million, with more than 70% of the population growth attributed to legal and illegal immigration (Blair, 2011). The number of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. every year ranges between 300,000 and 500,000 (Blair, 2011). In this sense, illegal immigration is one of the most urgent social and political issues in America. The discussed increase in the number of illegal immigrants is largely attributed to the end of the Bracero program in 1964, the U.S.’s growing openness, globalization and integration of markets, as well as a growing number of displaced individuals as a result of natural and man-made disasters (Orrenius & Zavodny, 2004). In its current state, the problem of illegal immigration resembles a humanitarian crisis: “unknown numbers of people have died trekking through the extreme conditions of the Arizona and New Mexico desert” (Lakoff & Ferguson, 2006, p.2). Illegal immigration is also a human rights problem, as millions of people, who cross the border illegally, have to sacrifice their freedoms and even dignity to work in the best interests of Americans (Lakoff & Ferguson, 2006).
According to Orenius and Zavodny (2003), illegal immigrants should not be granted amnesty, simply because their presence in America has serious adverse effects on the native labor and trade markets. Added to this is the fact that immigrants increase the costs brought to the American economy and the rates of crime (Blair, 2011). Millions of immigrants are imprisoned in the U.S., while the native population is suffering the lack of financial and social resources to improve their healthcare system, economic wellbeing, and financial security at the federal level.
It is generally believed that immigrants have the potential to replace Americans in those jobs where the latter do not want to work, either because of low earnings or the lack of career growth opportunities (Blair, 2011). In reality, as the scope of the foreign-born labor force grows, its low earnings impede the overall earnings growth in the U.S. (Blair, 2011). It is much easier to pay to a foreign worker “under the table” and reduce income taxes rather than hire immigrants legally and carry their financial costs (Blair, 2011). As a result, with the growing number of immigrants, it is American citizens who are bound to carry the burden of costs and pay to meet the needs of immigrants. Immigrant children need education and quality health care. Immigrants need social security and health protection. They need a place to live and a job to ensure their financial security. In today’s economic conditions, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will be similar to releasing all convicted criminals from prisons, with all social, criminal, and economic consequences being equal.
However, one should not forget that illegal immigrants work hard to earn their living. They also pay taxes and social benefits but do not receive any social, economic, or health care guarantees. Porter (2005) refers to the story of Angel Martinez, who crossed the American border in 1999 and had been doing backbreaking work since then. Picking fruits, pruning grapevines, washing trucks, and harvesting asparagus – those are the things Martinez was doing to survive in America (Porter, 2005). He had all necessary taxes withheld from his wages and paid at least $2,000 toward Social Security in just one year (Porter, 2005). Objectively, illegal immigrants, who pay taxes and seek legalization and work, deserve the right to become legal. They deserve to have social and health care guarantees. They deserve to have a good job in any sphere where Americans are not willing to work. Simultaneously, the U.S. must develop sophisticated measures to stop the growing inflow of immigrants (both legal and illegal). Therefore, those who have already come to the U.S. and have successfully established themselves in the new country deserve to be granted amnesty. Yet, amnesty will never succeed, unless the U.S. creates barriers against future illegal immigrants. Without these barriers, the amnesty granted to today’s immigrants will become a perfect incentive for thousands of others to enter the U.S. To achieve these goals, amnesty for illegal immigrants will need to be coupled with the subsequent elimination of job opportunities for illegal workers and the criminalization of illegal overstay on the American territory.
Thousands of aliens cross the U.S. border every year. Many of them come to the United States illegally, looking for a better life. Under the influence of globalization, the problem of illegal immigration has become pervasive. The burden of the economic costs caused by illegal immigrants constantly increases. On the one hand, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is almost the same as releasing all convicted criminals from prisons. Immigrants will need schools for their children, hospitals to receive quality health care, and social benefits to feel secured from economic difficulties and risks. On the other hand, many illegal workers pay considerable taxes and deserve to have solid social, economic, and financial guarantees. Thus, while granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, the U.S. must also stop the growing inflow of illegal immigration. By eliminating job opportunities for illegal workers and criminalizing illegal overstay on the American territory, the U.S. will finally achieve the desired balance in its relations with foreign newcomers.
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