Illegal Immigration in the United States, Term Paper Example
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Currently, there are an enormous number of illegal aliens living in this country. As of 2009, the Department of Homeland Security estimated at least 11.6 million illegal immigrants living in the continental United States (Lopez, 2009). These people live and work in our country, but they cannot participate in any required duties or enjoy the legal rights that citizens and legal immigrants do. This is a problem to many natural born citizens of the United States as well as legal immigrants and has been the source of much debate over the course of decades. Many natural born citizens and legal immigrants feel the illegal immigrants compete for jobs and opportunities that could be given to the young people born and raised in the United States, but instead are going to those people who are willing to do the same jobs for less money. This has caused a great controversy and has sparked violence, debates, and vast issues in the political arena.
Identify the Problem
“Although the United States’ welfare rolls are already swollen, every year we import more people who wind up on public assistance: immigrants,” says the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform in a statement posted on its website. “As a result of their high rate of poverty, immigrant households are more likely to participate in practically every one of the major means-tested programs” (Filisko, 2012). A report published by the Center for Immigration Studies reports that immigrant’s use of welfare programs was 69 percent higher than the use of those same programs by nonimmigrants (Filisko, 2012).
Beyond the financial burden these individuals place upon the population of the U.S. through their illegal entry, there are many additional problems associated with illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants often create or join sub-cultures, keeping them from assimilating into American society and causing them to become isolated inside certain communities. Illegal immigrants bring to America their own set of cultures, religious practices, beliefs, and expressions that are not the norm in society as we know today. They are often not willing to change at all and this causes problems if they are encountered by a native citizen and attempt to communicate. Anytime this happens to a group within society, it creates unhealthy divisions within a community that only grow as the group’s population increases in size. There will inevitably be cultural barriers that form and remain rooted in these areas due to the hesitation of these sub-cultures to become part of the mainstream society and learn the native language. This hinders the progress for their children as well as for the immigrants who migrated to the country.
To date, the total population of the United States is 309 million, with the illegal immigrant population at approximately 12 million. Illegal immigrants continue to drain American citizen’s resources because those responsible for enforcing immigration laws are not adequately funded to effectively prevent them from entering into the country. By offering illegal immigrants housing, food, and medical attention, we only encourage them continue to migrate here illegally, which forces the rest of society to make up the difference through government assistance or charity. This assistance and charity would otherwise be used for the aid of needy American citizens and illustrates yet another way that illegal immigrants are a drain on U.S. resources (Powers and Valeriano, 2010). Many of these services are food stamps, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid, housing assistance, utility assistance, and other government programs geared towards those people unable to completely provide for themselves or their families.
The United States is a land of laws that must be adhered to, without which, lawlessness and chaos would ensue. Much of the violence in the United States stems from drug and weapons trafficking over the border across Mexico and Texas. Illegal aliens are offered free entrance into the country if they agree to carry weapons or drugs and the mafia helps smuggle the individuals as well as the weapons or drugs into the country. This creates a shift in our nation of negative balance. When individuals fail to obey the law and are rewarded or ignored, it creates a desire for others to follow suit. Essentially, these individuals are rewarded for their unethical behavior. Illegal immigrants have broken our laws and are taking advantage of American generosity at an alarming rate.
Perhaps one of the most alarming aspects of illegal immigration is the rise in crime that accompanies it. Not only are American citizens subject to a higher crime rate, there is an additional strain placed on our justice system because of the cost of penalizing illegal immigrants when they break U.S. laws. This strain also involves law enforcement and public welfare agencies, which creates additional costs for the taxpayer. There should be no tolerance for any
crime committed by illegal immigrants, but oftentimes punishment means they are simply deported back to the country from which they came, all at the expense of taxpayers (Lopez, 2009). Unfortunately, however, illegal aliens often do not want to return home because they have gotten used to the United States and love the atmosphere and conditions. They do not want to return to poverty and poor hygiene and sanitation in their own native lands. They would rather run from deportation police and risk the chance of being deported rather than go quietly back to their homeland.
Illegal immigrants send a lot of the money they earn in the U.S. back to their own country, known as remittance, at a total of almost 21 billion dollars a year and rising (Lopez, 2009). This money is pulled out of the U.S. and is spent in other countries and therefore does not recirculate within the U.S. economy. The illegal aliens will often gain employment with a company or employer, either legally or ‘under the table’ and send most of their earnings back to their family in their native land. The money sent back home is substantially more than anything their family is able to earn themselves. It is with this money that their family will often gain entry to the United States months or years after the original family member begins work here. This is yet another example of how illegal immigration is greatly harming the U.S.
Two slang terms used by Mexican and United States officials pertaining to the smuggling of illegal immigrants across the border between the countries are coyotes and raiteros. Coyotes are known as guides who help illegal immigrant get into the United States by leading them through gullies and mountain passes along the border towns. Once they are over the border, provided they have not succumbed to death due to the weather or other natural causes, they are turned over to another group of individuals called raiteros. These individuals are drivers who take the illegal immigrants into destinations such as Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Albuquerque or other places and often charge them exorbitant amounts to allow them to leave the vehicle. Often, however, they will not charge a fee but will rape the women and rob the men before returning to the border town to pick up another load of immigrants to transport again.
Identify Possible Solutions to the Problem
The problem of illegal aliens will be solved by a law that requires immediate deportation. The problem of illegal aliens will be solved by amnesty for those illegal aliens who have not committed other crimes.
Examine Assumptions and Points of View
Some people feel that the benefits gained from illegal immigrants outweigh the costs they impose on the nation. Others believe the greatest ethical problem with illegal immigration into the United States is the great burden immigrants place on the tax-paying United States population. They feel that illegal immigrants take jobs away from the low-skilled and young Americans; they claim that illegal immigrants working in this country hurts the United States economy.
This population is forced to pay for illegal immigrants’ most basic needs, including healthcare, education, housing and food. One of the most popular myths in the United States is this: because illegal immigrants have entered the country in an unauthorized way, they are not able to obtain legal work and, consequently, they do not pay taxes. Therefore, illegal immigrants do not contribute to society in the same way that United States citizens and legal immigrants do, who pay their share for the services and community resources they consume. Those who have chosen to enter the United States illegally have violated a law that most reasonable people would not violate and should be deported, just as someone would be if they were to enter another country without authorization.
Although it may be true that some jobs are taken away from the low-skilled and young Americans in the United States, it is also true that most of these types of jobs are not normally wanted by native citizens. Many of the jobs such as building maintenance, construction, agricultural, yard and farm work are considered too difficult and labor intensive to be performed by some individuals and illegal immigrants are happy to perform these tasks because they pay well, even for someone without an education (Devadoss and Luckstead, 2011). It has been reported by Devadoss and Luckstead (2011) that many prisoners in federal institutions have even complained of performing these jobs when offered the option as a way to gain fresh air outside of their cell during a sunny day. Also, many of these jobs are not paid on a ‘cash only’ basis, so there are taxes held out for state and federal as well as social security programs. Illegal aliens are unable to utilize any of these services due to the fact they are not citizens but still must contribute if they are going to work at the job they have taken. This benefits those individuals who do utilize the federal and state programs because there is more money in the reserves for those people (Filiski, 2012).
There are many reasons illegal immigrants locate to the United States. The main reason, however, is the same as it always has been: the pursuit of the American dream. That is the reason the pioneers settled here centuries ago and it is the same today. The history books tell of settlers who fled England to escape persecution and settled amongst Native Americans at Plymouth Rock. They learned about how to grow crops and live off the land, which was vastly different from the way they had been raised in England. The country was built by immigrants essentially. The difference between then and now is that in the past the immigrants attempted to fit in and adapt to the environment and the circumstances in which they found themselves. Now things are not quite the same. As stated before, the sub-cultures that exist actually promote segregation of the ethnicities from one another and this allows groups to not be neighborly.
Also, another difference between the past and today is that there are more people living in the United States than in the past and more laws pertaining to the laws and regulations of our society. Those individuals who are against immigration argue that illegal aliens feed from the system without contributing when in fact they do contribute by paying taxes and buying merchandise in the United States. Also, because most of the illegal aliens are young when they come to the country, there is not a large need for healthcare or other programs like there would be if they were elderly. Most of the immigrants to the United States come here when they are young and single or young and have small families. The elderly normally do not migrate here unless there is already family who can take care of them without trouble. The immigrants must wait for at least ten years before qualifying for any type of needs based food stamps or assistance (even if they have a legitimate job) and this ensures they are giving money into society before taking from the government (West, 2011).
The largest problem in the recent past with immigration into the country is in the area of homeland security. Because of the events of September 2001, the citizens of the United States have been less than welcoming to other cultures when they attempt to relocate to our country. It is vitally important that the legislature address this issue and evaluate the problem of illegal immigration as well as the importance of the country’s safety in order to maintain balance. A piece of legislation was brought before the legislature in 2007 and called for increased border patrol units along the borders between Mexico and the United States to stop the illegal crossing of aliens. It also called for increased standards to help with the verification of birth and death certificates to ensure there would be a better tracking system so fake certificates would be confiscated sooner rather than later (Lopez, 2009).
While these measures are pending legislation, there is no amnesty clause in the bill for aliens who are already in the country. There are illegal aliens deported back to their country every day. These aliens should be allowed the chance to leave without persecution provided they have abided by our laws and lived as model citizens even if they were living here illegally.
The categorical imperative tells us that cheating is wrong. Entering a country illegally is essentially cheating the immigration system. When reason is applied to everyday life, it concludes that it is unethical to cheat, lie, or steal. This is something we have been taught is wrong and society is not built on what is wrong, rather it is built on things which are good and just.
The law, just as in life, was also built on things that are good and right. It is moral, ethical and right to uphold the laws of life as well as the laws of our personal livelihood. While we are not able to solve a moral dilemma such as cheating the immigration system in this essay, we are able to shed light on the ethics of upholding what is right in society and prosecuting those who break the laws by committing wrongful acts. Illegal immigration would be considered one of those wrongful acts. Immigrants who enter the country illegally should face the consequences of their situation just as any if they were any other individual who had broken a law written by the government and enforced by society. It is what is right, ethical, moral, and just.
Conclusion and Consequences
If the United States does not take back control of its borders, then we as a country will be overwhelmed with so many people that we will not have the ability to support them. As a result, our legal population will continue to suffer and have to work harder to support those who live here illegally while they continue to drain our nation’s resources. Our nation historically has been an open door and has welcome visitors into our land with open arms for generations. This has not necessarily been a bad thing; however, there is a limit to what we can provide to a population.
A country built on a solid foundation is able to provide resources to those who are working and contributing into the society. Although illegal immigrants indeed do contribute via illegal Social Security cards and pay taxes on the merchandise they purchase in our country, it has been a fact that a large portion of the goods and money made in America has gone to the country in which the illegal immigrants have originated. This is something that has hurt the United States significantly and has caused a low sense of morale for the rest of the population and an increase sense of anger as we strive to recuperate from attacks of terrorism on our soil. It is important that anyone who immigrates to our country for a better life does so legally in order to avoid the stigma of deportation and living a life lived ‘under the radar’ and a life spent running from the laws put into place to protect citizens of a great nation who welcome those who wish to come here legally and for the right reasons.
Devadoss, S., & Luckstead, J. (2011). Implications of immigration policies for the U.S. farm sector and workforce. Economic Inquiry, 49(3), 857+.
Filisko, G. M. (2012, May). Chasing the dream: drawing the line between fact and myth may be the biggest obstacle to sorting out immigration law and policy. ABA Journal, 98(5), 46+.
López, V. D. (2009). Illegal Immigration: Economic, Social and Ethical Implications. North East Journal Of Legal Studies, 2245-66.
Powers, M., & Valeriano, B. (2010). United States-Mexico: the convergence of public policy views in the post-9/11 World. Policy Studies Journal, 38(4), 745+.
West, D. (2011). The Costs and Benefits of Immigration. Political Science Quarterly, 126(3), 427-443.
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