Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1751 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Literature - Latin-American

Illegal Immigration

Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants: Good or Bad in Today's America?

The very first foreign settlers from Europe to arrive here, as a united group intent on making America their new home in 1630 (Morgan, 1998) included John Winthrop and Simon Bradstreet, the first and second democratically elected governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sailing with them was an erudite (especially for a woman then), accomplished, prolific, and now much-anthologized poet, Simon Bradstreet's wife Anne. Today we would turn their ship away. Immigration issues in America are plainly very different now; still, it is worth reflecting that had it not been for a ship full of what would now be called illegal immigrants, the United States we know would not exist (Zimmerman, 2005). In 21st century America, illegal immigration further stretches our already stressed educational, health care, and legal systems, and other infrastructure (Espenshade, 1995). Cogent arguments exist for and against illegal immigration; but today's state and federal leaders alike, in making and enforcing immigration decisions and laws, must bring fairness and balance to immigration issues. Arguably, productive, law-abiding illegal workers deserve work permits and/or alien resident cards, perhaps even amnesty on a case-by-case basis. Illegal immigration needs to be bridled, but immigration in and of itself should not be a dirty word, and would-be immigrants ought not to be automatically discouraged.

John Winthrop and his Dissenters (from the Anglican Church) were also in fact the religious zealots of their day (Morgan, 1998), and arguably the early 17th century equivalent of modern-day Zionists; Shiite literalists; or right-wing Christian fundamentalists. As such, America's founding families have also been today's undesirables. And like so many of today's foreign refugees, the Puritans risked their lives to come here. According to the article "Illegal Immigration" (May 4, 2007): Illegal immigration refers to migration across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destination country." Today, many would-be immigrants, especially from places like Mexico, Latin and Central America, Cuba, and Haiti in particular, often try alone or in groups to walk; drive (or be driven); or sail to America, all in search of better lives than they have or can ever expect in their home countries (Flores, 2003). Some refugees, especially from places like El Salvador (see http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.elsalvador11jan11,0,460257.story?coll=bal-oped-headlinesTo Slow Immigration from El Salvador, Understand its Causes," January 11, 2007); Bosnia, and parts of Asia and Africa then and now, are fleeing ethnic persecution and/or bloody wars at home.

Depending on an unpredictable combination of either good or bad luck; individual will and determination; ability (or not) to prove political, religious or ethnic persecution once arrived, and either favorable or unfavorable political climates of the moment, some but not many will both arrive safely and be permitted to stay and to work, while others (most) will fall ill or die en route, and, even when they do not, most likely be sent back to where they came from by the American authorities instead of being given asylum. The most unfortunate of these (there are many, although no one can possibly know how many) never even make it here alive.

They may die along the way to America from exposure, traveling conditions, disease; heat or cold; starvation or thirst. Or they may be apprehended and turned back before even nearing the American border as a result of American vigilantes' spotting them and notifying the border patrol (or by border patrol officers themselves). Usually, those foreign nationals will try to cross the border illegally again; some will make it the next time. Whatever happens, good or bad, trying to illegally enter the United States nowadays is a risky, dangerous, and increasingly treacherous endeavor.

Every would-be immigrant probably has his or her own dreams about life in America, but most typically, illegal entrants are in search of work opportunities, and, if they have children, educational opportunities for them. There may also be family pressure, due to financial and other hardships at home, to make it to America, find work, and then bring or send money back home. Some whole families may wish to immigrate to America and be counting on one or two members to go first and then help the rest to get here (see "Young Migrants Risk All to Reach U.S.," August 28, 2006).

Many of the Mexican nationals in particular that try fleeing across the border to the United States come from rural areas in Mexico where employment and future job prospects are slim to non-existent. Some of these are quite literally fleeing for their lives; for even if there is no war going on back home, there is still no chance to survive economically or any hope for the future (" http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=b2579269c3c901ad0ae85bd42dd2920d" Love Unites Them, La Migra Separates Them," El Observador, November 30, 2006.

Within America though, even the lowest-paying, most physically-taxing, and most menial jobs will be readily accepted by illegal Mexican immigrants, for those same wages too low to be unacceptable to American-born workers will go a very long way when sent to one's family in Mexico. Other refugees come to America to avoid political persecution or just the current political systems within their countries. Under communism, for example, Russian and Eastern European nationals yearned to flee to America, and before the Iron Curtain vanished in the late 1980's, a very few succeeded in doing so. Similarly, some would be immigrants from mainland China today seek asylum from China's Communist government.

In general, immigrants to America, legal or not, want what all the rest of us do: to work (preferably legally, but if not, just to work and earn a paycheck). Illegal immigrants would pay taxes American if they could safely do so, and would also contribute willingly to America's Social Security fund in order to someday retire. They would like access to good health care for themselves and their families, and to be treated fairly by non-minorities and other minorities in America, including not being discriminated against based on nationality; ethnicity; or race.

Although opponents of expanded or even current immigration rights are generally loathe to admit it, the work done by illegal immigrants, especially when they are working legally but arguably even when they are not, often does benefit America and Americans in various ways. For example, illegal workers' paying taxes means that more workers pay taxes generally. And not all illegal workers stretch the resources of free health care clinics and emergency rooms; many illegal immigrants actually receive health care coverage through their workplaces.

And while many immigrants perform only unskilled labor, still others come here as well-educated adults, and eventually secure high-tech and other professional work and to earn high salaries.

In my opinion, the latter immigrant workers in particular, and perhaps others as well with a proven history of working gainfully here while also abiding by American laws, should be able to receive temporary work permit and perhaps even permanent permission to work and live here. However, the government should also do extensive background checks for criminal records, and make sure a record of steady tax contributions by an illegal immigrant verifiably exist before giving him or her permanent resident status here. Fines for having been here illegally and/or for working here illegally should not be levied, in my view, because these would be too expensive for most to pay and still be able to both live and pay income taxes. and, since many illegal immigrants earn just minimum wage, such fines would likely be prohibitive for many.

According to the article "United States Immigration Debate" (3 May 2007):

President Bush proposed a variety of reforms to immigration laws on January

7, 2004. The proposal to Congress came in the form of a statement of principles rather than legislation... The central proposal was that new and existing workers should be admitted to the United States as temporary workers, a proposal reminiscent of the Bracero [sic] program of the mid-20th century. Other issues included border enforcement and incentives for temporary workers to return home when no longer needed by their employers.

This proposal seems, in my opinion, in many ways at least, a good "middle ground' starting point at which to further rationally discuss and make clear-cut decisions about America's current existing immigration problems that would be fair and firm, yet humane. I believe, however, that in at least some of the cases of existing workers, those who have both consistently paid income taxes on their wages earned in America, and who also have no criminal records, amnesty and legal residency should also potentially be given them by the federal government. Plainly, our federal, state, and local governments alike must find newer and better ways today of fairly yet effectively solving America's ongoing and steadily increasing immigration problems. President Bush's 2004 proposal is a good start in that direction, but only that. Many individual immigration decisions will, as in the past, of necessity continue to be decided on a case-by-case basis. But additional policies and general guidelines for solving today's current immigration problems in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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