Term Paper: Illegal Immigrant Should Be Stay in United States

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¶ … Illegal Immigration in the United States Today

The nation's headlines are full of reports of increasing numbers of illegal immigrants, particularly from Latin America and Mexico, heading for the United States in search of a better life today. Certainly, even the most vocal critics of the nation's immigration policies would not deny these immigrants the right to seek out a better life for themselves, as long as the country in which they pursue their dreams does not happen to be America. Furthermore, the events of September 11, 2001 and the continuing media reports of tens of millions of illegal immigrants being in the United States already has not helped the position of those who want to come here, and it has added fuel to the war on terrorism fires at home. In this environment, some observers are left wondering if there are any legitimate reasons for the approximately 12 million illegal aliens who are already in the United States to remain here in some legal fashion. To this end, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature to demonstrate several timely reasons why illegal immigrants who are already in the United States should be allowed to remain, including (a) their enormous positive economic contributions, (b) the exorbitant costs associated with identifying and deporting them, - migration is a natural survival technique, and, (d) the adverse effect on the nation's consciousness in view of America's longstanding legacy of welcoming dispossessed people. A summary of the research and salient findings will be provided in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Background and Overview. Today, a culture of fear pervades the United States. This culture of fear is being perpetuated by a media and national government that recognize that fear sells, and a fearful audience is easier to manipulate. The terror alert level remains elevated no matter what, and if the weather is not threatening at any given time, there is always the scary topic of illegal aliens to fall back on. For example, Edwards (2002) points out that, "Newspaper stories nearly every day describe yet another instance of a broken immigration system and rampant lawbreaking by foreigners taking advantage of our nation's generosity. The American people now view immigration in general, and illegal immigration in particular, as a frontburner issue associated with the war on terrorism and homeland security" (A21).

While September 11, 2001 accelerated the process, there were already efforts underway to help stem to flow of illegal immigrants to the United States even before these attacks took place. According to O'Callaghan (2002), "In 1996 Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Through this act, Congress attempted to combat illegal immigration, while revamping the asylum process in the United States" (1747). This legislation included some strict measures designed to facilitate the deportation of illegal immigrants under the expedited removal system that allowed the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to deny entry to any alien who arrives at a border without the required documents or with false travel documents (O'Callaghan 1747). These on-the-spot INS decisions as to whether to deny entry to such aliens are not subject to review; therefore, low-level INS agents are empowered to make final decisions about the admission of certain aliens.

Unfortunately, this efficiency measure has had some unexpected consequences that have continued to adversely affect those with legitimate reasons for admission. In this regard, O'Callaghan points out that, "The IIRIRA was implemented as an attempt to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Unfortunately, the law also harms true asylum-seekers. Aliens without documents or with false documents may be attempting to hide something from immigration officials, but they may also have legitimate reasons for their lack of valid documentation" (1748). Without any substantive due process, though, these policies have resulted in countless asylum-seekers being turned away from the nation's borders. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 simply made things worse for those who advocated more enlightened approaches to dealing with the flood of immigrants from Latin America. For instance, West (2003) points out that, "The most that our best and brightest have come up with is the formal 'amnesty' technique. President George W. Bush had proposed yet another just before September 11, 2001, and, understandably, instantly shelved it" (56). In this environment, advocates of illegal immigrants have found themselves at a distinct disadvantage and in search of arguments in support of their positions, and these are discussed further below.

Positive Economic Contributions of Illegal Immigrants. Given its significance in national affairs, it is not surprising that there have been some conflicting reports concerning the economic impact of illegal immigrant's on the country's economy. While the actual numbers are unknown, critics suggest that these illegal immigrants are stealing jobs away from American workers who would readily accept these jobs if they were available. For instance, Gresham (2004) reports that:

We now have millions of illegal aliens in this country who are working at legitimate jobs using false Social Security cards and numbers. While the international goals that Bush pursues are best served by undercutting U.S. labor, the domestic situation will suffer so severely as a result of the 'free illegal immigration' policy that the real basis of American prosperity a middle class constituting 65% to 70% of Americans will be destroyed. It will be replaced by a two-class society made up of a small percentage of the rich and a large percentage of the poor (perhaps 80%). (4)

In reality, though, the vast majority of these jobs are either low-paying and menial jobs that many Americans would be reluctant to accept and even fewer would be willing to keep over the long-term, or the illegals involved have managed to survive in the U.S. sufficiently long to secure decent employment. In either case, these workers are contributing to the local tax base, and all of them are consumers. "Guest worker" programs and other half-measures fail to recognize these economic realities and will inevitably compel policymakers at the state and federal level to come to grips with these issues. In this regard, a recent cover story in Business Week (July 18, 2005) emphasized that, in spite of the growing discontent over illegal immigration, American businesses have continued to hire undocumented workers with little concern for federal regulations designed to stop them. Moreover, the editors go on to say:

At the same time, though, the fast-growing undocumented population is coming to be seen as an untapped engine of growth. In the past several years, big U.S. consumer companies -- banks, insurers, mortgage lenders, credit-card outfits, phone carriers, and others -- have decided that a market of 11 million or so potential customers is simply too big to ignore. It may be against the law for the [illegals] to be in the U.S. Or for an employer to hire them, but there's nothing illegal about selling to them. ("Embracing Illegals" 3).

Exorbitant Costs Associated with Identifying and Deporting Illegal Immigrants. According to Gresham, some critics maintain that, "The IRS and Social Security Administration know who all of the illegal aliens are but do nothing about it" (4). Nothing could be further from the truth, though, and other observers emphasize that the true number of illegal aliens in the United States today is impossible to determine. By all accounts, the problem is not small either, but precise figures are difficult to come by. According to West (2003), "No one knows with any confidence how many illegals there are in the United States; guesstimates range from 7 million to 12 million" (56). Even if the INS, IRS and Social Security Administration got all of their employees together in a massive effort to identify and round up these illegal immigrants, they would clearly be unable to make a significant dent in the actual numbers of people who are living in this country illegally.

Migration is a Natural Survival Technique. People, like many other animals, instinctively recognize when their survival is threatened and will seek out better conditions for themselves and their families through migration. These are natural processes that have compelled mankind for millennia to move from place to ensure the survival of the species, and these same processes are still at work today. While animals are allowed to pursue their natural migration patterns, the migration of humans has been interrupted by arbitrary geopolitical boundaries that have turned ordinary people in search of a better life into criminals. According to Bushnell (2006), the majority of voluntary human migration is undertaken in search of better economic opportunities or housing. "Forced migrations usually involve people who have been expelled by governments during war or other political upheavals or who have been forcibly transported as slaves or prisoners. Intermediate between these two categories are the voluntary migrations of refugees fleeing war, famine, or natural disasters" (Bushnell 17).

Adverse Impact on Nation's Consciousness. At the base of the Statue of Liberty is a famous poem by Emma Lazarus that proclaims, in part, to the world:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled… [END OF PREVIEW]

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