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Illegal and Legal Immigrants, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Both Illegal and Legal Immigrants are Entering California in Large Numbers

Although some people from south of the border enter California, report that they are there and take the required citizenship tests, many others do not. There are some who come as visitors, similar to Americans and Canadians who freely cross out Northern Borders. Others come in large numbers, blend in with California’s population, and stay for as long as they wish.

The state of California has always been a state where immigrants enter our country. Granted, some come from the South, but historically, others arrived by ship in both the 18th and 19th centuries.  Although the 20th and 21st centuries have brought great numbers of immigrants across our Southern border, in the course of history many other immigrants have also settled in California.  The Chinese and Japanese came to California in the late 18th century; immigration of these people continued through the 19th century. Most of them worked on the railroads as laborers, connecting our East and West rail lines. Those who were unable to work on the railroad remain industrious and set up small specialty shops all along California’s Western seaboard. During the same time period other immigrants came to California from Europe, Peru, Chile, Australia, and India. In the late 19th and early 20 centuries, Russian immigrants settled in San Francisco. With them they brought Finns, Lithuanians, Ukranians, Poles, and Jews, all of whom were being persecuted in Europe because of the religious beliefs.  Although all states of the U.S. have contributed to immigration, California has been the leader.

From Iron Curtain countries to the free West, no matter how well-guarded our borders are, if citizens look hard and long enough they can always find the “hole in the fence.” In the case of the United States, the “hole” is located on our Southern borders (Warren, 13). In some parts of the South, coming into the United States requires wading through waist-deep water. In other areas, it is merely a short walk through a sandy wasteland. Although border patrols do exist, they can’t possible sustain the manpower necessary to cover several hundred miles of border (Lindsay & Fry, 217). Regardless of what country people wishing to enter California come from, many miles of the U.S. Southern border overlap Mexico. Although there are some controlled access and egress points, for those individuals not wanting to alert authorities to their whereabouts, they often find it easier just to walk across the border.

American employers are willing to hire these illegal immigrants (Camarota 201-219). These immigrants will work for several more hours than will native workers.  They will do the hard, dirty work that most American natives are unwilling to do. Likewise, they are not part of any union and therefore will work for far less salary than those employees carrying union cards. Owners of both large and small businesses profit by paying below-standard wages to illegal immigrants who believe the law is not on their side. Therefore, they willingly take the few cents on a dollar they are being offered. Even with reduced wages, sometimes this money stays in the United States. More often, it is taken or sent back to families still in Central and South America where American dollars can be converted into the currency of foreign lands.

Several major problems have developed in California with the continuing influx of immigrants from South of the border. Like all states in the union, immigrants need a place to live. Sometimes they have family members in California who are willing to provide shelter, but those without domicile need to be provided a place to live, even if it means constructing new buildings in an already overcrowded state. In some cases these immigrants come seeking work with their spouses and children in-tow. Regardless of whether they are illegal immigrants or documented workers, the children in these families are guaranteed free public schooling until they complete at-least their second year of high school. At that point children are allowed to drop out of school; most do, but some remain through high school graduation. In addition to shelter and schooling, state governments and the federal government guarantee that if a person is in-need of medical help, that care will be provided immediately and free of charge if the individual has no means by which to pay.

As the population of California continues to grow, regardless of whether the person is a native or an immigrant, additional housing is necessary. More so, additional daycare centers for pre-school children, and elementary and high schools need to be built for more students. These schools need to be staffed with state qualified, usual bilingual teachers and administrators. In many cases both female and male illegal immigrants are employed past the end of the school day. In order to keep their offspring off the street and actively involved in supervised after-school activities, California keeps the schools open longer than the regular school day, paying teachers and administrators extra salaries to supervise these children beyond the close of the school day. Mahoney, Lord and Carryl observed that while all states have after-school programs, California has the most students in the nation using this service (815). In other instances after-school supervised activities must be opened in storefronts with salaried or sometimes unpaid volunteers, e.g. Boys and Girls Clubs. In addition, California faces the need to build new or larger hospitals staffed with qualified doctors and nurses, with at-least some of those professionals being bilingual.

Uncontrolled immigration has deleterious effects, primarily on natives as well as those immigrants who arrived by legal means. It costs money to build and staff schools and hospitals; it also costs money to bring bilingual communications to these institutions. Social service agencies responsible for providing shelter, food, and clothing need to hire many more workers to accommodate immigrants’ needs.  As mentioned earlier in this document, immigrants sometimes take jobs that paying below minimum wage, thus falling into the parameters of poverty.  To offset some of the characteristics of poverty welfare agencies will provide payments for housing and food.

Most citizens know that the federal government, and in some cases state governments, don’t have money of their own. Wherever money is disbursed, it must first be received. The receipt of money comes from businesses who are selling products with a portion of each sale going to the government. For individuals or families, each year we pay our fair share of taxes to the government; some states have an income tax while others don’t.

According to Mahoney, Lord, and Carryl (2012) new California laws allow immigrant students the opportunity to attend state supported universities with all tuition assumed by the state. This is in direct contrast to Americans who must pay their own tuition either through their own savings or through college loans. According to the same news report immigrant students may furnish unofficial identification when taking college entrance exams. When parents enroll their children in public schools multiple kinds of identification can be presented. These include property tax receipts, and rental receipts; these documents are accepted in all states. In California however, immigrants can use pay stubs, payment receipts, and even letter from perspective employers.

Recent changes in federal laws list those immigrants who are eligible for benefits, and those who are not allowed to receive benefits. In order to accommodate the needs of immigrants not recognized by the federal government, the state of California (and sometimes other states) enacted laws to take money from the state treasury to help these individuals. Although the name, federal aid, implies the monies come from the federal government those funds are still administered through each state (Broder & Blazer 8).

According to the Broder and Blazer (1-3) illegal aliens living in California are eligible for emergency Medicaid. The law sets up no restriction on public health programs. School breakfast and lunch programs are provided to all students regardless of immigrant status. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is available to all families regardless of whether the federal government considers them qualified or non-qualified.  California also pays for disaster insurance for all people residing in the state.  In addition, child and adult protective services, programs for the homeless, shelters and soup kitchens, medical, public health, mental health, drug abuse, and all programs designed to protect adults and children from injury (1-8).

In summary, immigrants have come to California, either through legal or illegal points of entry, since the late 18th century. Although there are large areas of immigrants groups throughout California, many second and third generation immigrants have assimilated into American society and have moved to other areas of the United States. The late 20th and early 21st centuries have brought a new wave of immigrants: people from south of the U.S’s. borders have been immigrating to California. Although each respective state of the United States welcomes immigrants, the migration in California has been so massive that public programs have been curtailed because of lack of funds or citizens who pay into the state’s tax base are being asked to pay for services provided to these new immigrants. In addition, because of the rapid influx of immigrants, methods of identification have changed from the use of official to unofficial documents for some of the people now residing in California: Citizens are expected to provide official documentation while non-qualified immigrants may use unofficial documentation. Different people residing in the state of California receive different treatments; as mentioned earlier while U.S. citizens are required to pay for college, non-citizens are provided the same services without cost.

This document does not explore measures that can be taken to equalize benefits for all residents of California. However, California is now issuing drivers licenses to anybody, regardless of status, who can pass the test. To the student, it seems reasonable that the federal government requires social security picture ID cards throughout the United States. It may help to stop the abuse of California’s fiscal resources.

Works Cited

Broder, T., & Blazer, J. (2011). Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs. Washington, DC: National Immigration Law Center.

Camarota, Steven. The High Cost of Cheap labor: Illegal Immigrants and the Federal Budget. Center for Immigration Studies. Washington, DC. 2004.

Lindsay, L., & Fry, R. (2002). Estimating the Distribution of Undocumented Workers in the Urban Labor Force. Washington, DC: The Pew Hispanic Center.

Mahoney, T., Lord, B., & Carryl, J. (2012). Immigrants Stand to Benefit from New California Laws. LATINO Fox News, January 4, 2012.

Warren, Robert. Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990-2000. Office of Policy and Planning. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service: Washington, DC: 2003.

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