Solution to Illegal Immigration Essay

Pages: 5 (2008 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

Solution to Illegal Immigration

The problem of illegal immigration: Enforcement vs. amnesty

At present, America is polarized between two camps -- those who advocate more creative enforcement of currently existing immigration laws and those who advocate more tolerance and a path to citizenship for long-standing, hard working illegal immigrants. Two main strategies exist for dealing with the problem of illegal immigration: that of stringent enforcement vs. A kind of flexible 'guest worker' or amnesty program that allows some currently illegal workers to continue to work within the United States and/or eventually obtain citizenship. Both sides argue that their position is more in line with the true spirit of the 'American way of life,' is more economically sustainable and is more 'just' to immigrants who become citizens through legitimate channels, particularly Latinos who are the subjects of anti-immigrant prejudices, even if they are citizens.

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America is often called a nation of immigrants and a melting pot. The ideal of the American dream is that anyone who is willing to work hard can improve his or her lot in life within the framework of the American capitalist system, regardless of that person's nation of origin. However, many more individuals would like to work in America and to become American citizens than are allowed to do so. More immigrants would like to come to America than the economy or America's resources could support. Also, there are many individuals whom, for safety and security reasons, America needs to keep out, to protect the borders of the land. Still, often out of economic desperation, many individuals enter America and become part of an underground, shadow economy. They are often exploited by employers who are aware of their illegal status and, some allege, they 'take away' jobs from citizens and drive down the asking wage of many occupations because they work for lower than the minimum wage in many instances. There is always a tension between America's desire to welcome in new workers and relaxing immigration rules in the spirit of tolerance, and the alterative solution of more stringent border policing to keep numbers of illegal workers down.

Essay on Solution to Illegal Immigration Assignment

Advocates for illegal immigrants argue that the jobs at which they labor are often so menial and poorly paid that no citizens are willing to fill these positions, like groundskeepers and dishwashers. They argue that these workers are in many ways embodying the true spirit of America -- they are showing their willingness to do anything to make things better for their children, if not for their own immediate benefit. The 2006 'sick out' by all illegal workers was a potent reminder of the powerful role that illegal workers play in many aspects of the American economy, from restaurants to landscaping and the difficulty many industries run by American citizens would have in sustaining themselves, were there more stringent border policing and anti-illegal immigrant enforcement. Stricter rules about documentation in Arizona, for example, left many of the state's amusement parks and restaurants empty of the workers necessary to run the operations (Arizona's Illegal Immigration Laws Put to the Test, 2008, PBS). During one state's rally of illegal workers in 2006: "protesters held up signs proclaiming, 'We Are America,'" and one worker said illegal immigrants "come to this country not to take from America, but to make America strong....we do not deserve to be treated the way we have been treated," he said decrying the prejudicial and discriminatory legislation and violence inflicted upon illegal workers (Hundreds of thousands join 'national day of action' in towns, cities, 2006, CNN.com).

Recently, in New York City, Jose Sucuzhanay, a legal Ecuadorean immigrant was beaten to death because he was perceived as an illegal alien because of his race. Advocates for illegal immigrants state that the incident highlights how anti-immigrant prejudice is often merely racist and that immigrants deserve to be honored for the hard work they have done to improve the economy of the nation (a lynching in Brooklyn, 2008, the New York Times). Phasing in workers through a program of amnesty would reduce racism as well as legitimate Latinos' place in society, both legal and illegal workers, they argue. However, an increase in violence against illegal Americans, an increase in prejudice against many Latinos (even Latino citizens who are perceived to be 'illegal' because of their ethnic heritage) underscores the need that both advocates and detractors of illegal workers acknowledge: the American economy cannot have this second source of labor that theoretically does or should not exist but in actuality is a lifeblood for many employers. Tensions will only escalate until this problem is addressed. Anti-amnesty advocates argue that the presence of illegal immigrants in the workforce fuels racism against Latinos, not that racism causes the ire of Americans against an illegal activity. America will always need to keep track of employees, and allowing individuals to be undocumented, or to have less documentation than citizens or formal workers makes immigration law a mockery and amnesty would merely legitimate illegal activity, and encourage more illegal activity.

At present, the main enforcement strategies for immigration enforcement used by the government include border enforcement, locating and removing illegal workers within the country, dismantling smuggling operations that bring new illegal workers into the country, responding to community complaints about illegal immigration, investigating document and benefit fraud by illegal immigrants and employers who knowingly employee illegal workers, and penalizing employers if they knowingly employ an illegal worker (Weissinger, 2003). Even anti-immigrant advocates acknowledge the failure of this program, although they argue that the problem is one of a poor balance of enforcement strategies, not that the strategy is misguided in and of itself. They point out that border enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border has been the main focus of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). However, although as of January 2000 only 69% of this unauthorized immigrant population was from Mexico. According to the INS, there is also a substantial influx of illegal workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, China, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Brazil, Haiti, India, Peru, Korea, and Canada, and it is difficult to obtain exact figures. "This means that a significant number of illegal aliens entered the United States through other than the Mexico-U.S. border and that they fall under the jurisdiction of the investigations section (interior enforcement), not the Border Patrol. These statistics further indicate that the illegal alien problem is both a border and an interior enforcement problem. More importantly, the interior problem seems to be far greater than the border problem" (Weissinger 2003).

The solution, it is argued, is that in addition to the border fence constructed between the U.S. And Mexico, the U.S. must exercise more vigilant supervision of employers in combination with legal actions against immigrants. There must be a disincentive for workers to come to the U.S. For jobs -- if employers will not hire illegal immigrants, they will cease to come.. In response to this, Arizona passed a law to deal with the fact that it is one of the states most densely populated with illegal immigrants -- estimates suggest that one in ten workers are illegal immigrants in Arizona, a staggering figure. Now, employers will be penalized if they hire undocumented workers. "Employers are required to use E-Verify, a federal database to confirm the immigration status of new hires. The law appears to be working, according to some [observers]...we've been told they're leaving by the droves. We've seen businesses shut down. We've seen businesses that cater to illegal aliens impacted. And I've been told that, when the school year is out, you're going to see thousands more leave" (Arizona's Illegal Immigration Laws Put to the Test, 2008, PBS).

Amnesty, anti-immigrant advocates argue, is no solution: "breaking the law is supposed to have negative consequences, but granting amnesty to illegal aliens tolerates that choice instead" (Overby 2008) Furthermore, how can one give amnesty to someone living in the country who is breaking the law -- why should he or she come forward for an uncertain payoff, given that the proposed "process of granting amnesty is in itself not necessarily a quicker route to becoming a legal citizen. Fines are involved, along with proving you kept up with your taxes, learning English and other criteria. They may even be forced to wait in line behind immigrants who are seeking citizenship legally. If illegal aliens are able to comfortably live in the U.S. currently, why would they go through the hassle of being granted amnesty, especially since the current immigration process takes so long" (Overby 2008).

But others point out that more stringent enforcement measures such as those practiced in Arizona have not acted as a deterrent, merely caused workers to run 'scared' and seek employment elsewhere, making them live constantly on the run, with few community ties -- essentially increasing the chance they may act in a violent or antisocial manner. Furthermore, more stringent enforcement can hurt legal as well as illegal workers. For example, to improve enforcement, advocates of more stringent controls have used measures… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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