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Immigration Reform, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1404

Essay

Immigration has emerged as one of the most divisive issues in the United States over the last decade. This does surprise some of us because the United States has always been a country of immigrations and the country prides itself on being the most diverse nation on the earth. The disagreement over a potential solution to the immigration issue is not just a matter of different values. A better understanding of the problem requires one to be aware of the perceived conflict of interests among different groups as well asgenerally held beliefs and opinions that may or may not be accurate. But a careful analysis of immigration related facts should convince everyone that immigration reform is not only the right thing to do but will also make sense from economic point of view. In other words, an immigration reform will not only be an ethical solution but will also be in the best economic interests of the nation and the country.

An immigration reform will be an economic boost to both the government and the private sector. Bringing the illegal residents into the tax system will not only result in additional tax revenue for the government but also greater social security revenues.A study by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) economist Raul Hinojosa-Ojedaestimated that a comprehensive immigration reform would contribute over $1.5 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy over the next ten years. In addition, the immigration reform would also help raise the average wage levels in the U.S.Because illegal residents are often part of the underground economy which pays lower wages than the average, they cost the economy in multiple ways. A January 2010 study from the University of Southern California estimated that because illegal residents earned less than what they would have as legal residents, the state of California alone missed out on $310 million in income taxes in 2009 and the federal government missed out on $1.4 billion. The UCLA study by economist Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda stated that the U.S. economy also suffers because higher incomes would translate to higher consumption levels by the illegal residents if they were to get a legal status (Ewing).

Immigration reform should also happen because it will affirm the U.S. commitment to protection of human rights and dignity of the individuals living within its borders. Moreover, the immigration reform will also help promote the widely accepted ethical values within the American Societyincluding fair wages for every worker. Illegal residents are protected by U.S. labor laws and even though illegal workers are often paid below the legal minimum rate, they rarely seek legal course. This is because many of the illegal residents are uneducated who are unaware of their legal rights and fear that reporting the labor violations by the employers may result in deportation. In addition, there is a mutual benefit involved because some illegal immigrants are doing work in America which an ordinary American will not do and yet we are paying less than minimum wage rates (Reader and Welch). We should be grateful to them even if they came in search of self-interest because their presence has saved many of our farming businesses from going out of existence. If one thinks about it, the exploitation of such illegal residents in the farming field is not much different from the exploitation of African slaves by our forefathers because in both cases the subjects involved have been deprived of their right to fair wages. Many businesses do not want the immigration reform to happen because they are taking advantage of cheap labor(Reader and Welch). A portion of their profits is unjustly earned because it belongs to the workers who are not provided fair compensation for their contribution. It’s not difficult for businesses to check the legal status of workers in America (Reader and Welch) so how can we blame others when we ourselves are intentionally breaking the law for economic self-interest? If American businesses want to, they can still force illegal residents to leave voluntarily by refusing to hire them but they won’t do that because they know that the labor provided by illegal immigrants is essential to their businesses and the overall U.S. economy. Thus, it is only fair to give illegal residents an opportunity at a legal status because we are equally guilty and moreover, illegal residents deserve our gratitude for their unsung contributions to America.

The third justification for immigration reform would be to prevent unnecessary conflicts between the federal and state governments which will only lead to confusion and unnecessary waste of time and financial resources. Discouraged by lack of decisive federal action on the immigration issue, many states including Arizona and Alabama have enacted their own immigration laws. Some of these state immigration laws have attracted lawsuits by the federal government who contends that the states exceeded their authority and went for unconstitutional immigration laws that have the potential to lead to prejudice against the minorities. A comprehensive immigration reform would put an end to all of this. Immigration laws by the states do not make logical sense because there are already federal immigration lawsand when states’ laws are in conflict with the federal laws, federal laws take precedence according to the U.S. constitution. When one wants to visit a particular state in the U.S., he/she always have to fulfill the requirements of U.S. federal immigration laws. Anyone who fulfills such requirements can visit any state in the U.S. and doesn’t need separate state visas. Since the issue of immigration has always been a federal matter, it also makes sense for the federal government to enforce immigration laws and determine policies regarding violations of immigration laws. There are fifty states in the U.S. and if each state starts having its own immigration policy, it would lead to nothing but utter confusion. But unless federal government takes a decisive action on the immigration issue, these states’ immigration laws will continue to come as we are already witnessing because elected officials have a tendency to give in to the pressures of their political constituentsfor the sake of their own political future.

The opponents of the immigration reform argue that illegal residents snatch jobs from the legal residents and lead to lower wages. This is an inaccurate claim as we saw that a crackdown on illegal immigration in 2004 caused a shortage of workers needed to bring in the lettuce crop in the Western United States and caused a loss of $1 billion because many growers left their field unharvested. They didn’t hire legal residents as an alternative because the higher wages would have made it an uneconomical solution (Isidore). Globalization has resulted in highly mobile factors of production and the willingness of American companies to outsource is not a secret anymore. American companies will always pursue cheap labor and if they do not find it at home, they will simply import. But illegal residents have kept many businesses in existence at home and may be the reason why Americans have access to cheap agricultural products that are grown in the U.S. Some opponents suggest that all illegal residents should be deported. This is an impractical solution because of the sheer number of illegal residents in the U.S. In addition, a March 2010 study by the Center for American Progress calculated that deporting 10.8 million illegal residents would cost $200 billion and this doesn’t even include the social and economic consequences of such an action (Ewing).

Thus, immigration reform is not only a morally right solution but also serves the best interests of the country when all facts have been taken into account. The proposed immigration reform would not extend to those guilty of serious crimes so that should ease the concerns of some opponents. Doing so will increase the tax revenues and social security revenues of the government and in addition, higher earning residents will also contribute towards the GDP by increasing their consumption activities. Most of the illegal residents are Hispanic, mainly from Mexico and Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S. Immigration reform will encourage illegal residents to come out of the underground economy and will also improve overall working conditions in the U.S.

References

Ewing, Walter. Immigration Reform Raises Revenue, While Enforcement-Only Strategies Throw Tax Dollars Away. 12 October 2011 <http://immigrationimpact.com/2010/04/15/immigration-reform-raises-revenue-while-enforcement-only-strategies-throw-tax-dollars-away/>.

Isidore, Chris. Illegal workers: good for U.S. economy. 1 May 2006. 12 October 2011 <http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/01/news/economy/immigration_economy/index.htm>.

Reader, Utne and Bryan Welch. Putting a Stop to Slave Labor. April 2007. 12 October 2011 <http://www.utne.com/2007-03-01/PuttingaStoptoSlaveLabor.aspx>

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