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Research paper topic: Immigration: Should America Close The Golden Door - 1654 words
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.. In the end a young immigrant population may very well save such programs as social security by increasing the number of workers in the market (Mont 18). These are all economic benefits, but the diversity the United States gains is a priceless commodity that future generations of Americans will need to succeed in a growing international job market. The Cost of Immigration The United States immigration policy does not allow people to immigrate if they are expected to be dependant on public services. Yet in 1993 approximately 12% of the 5.9 million recipients of Supplemental Security Income benefits were immigrants, even though they only account for about 5% of the population (Mont 15).
Statistics such as these add to the growing anti-immigrant sentiment among American citizens. This anti-immigrant attitude was clearly reflected in 1994 with the passing of Californias Proposition 187. Actions such as Proposition 187 can create a very hostile and possibly dangerous atmosphere for all immigrants. What it really boils down to is a belief among Americans that immigrants simply cost too much. Immigration means increased job competition, more money spent on welfare, and increased competition for educational funding. Although Proposition 187 was aimed at curbing the health care cost of illegal immigrants, most Americans simply see it as an immigrant issue and pay little attention to details concerning the status of those immigrants actually receiving benefits.
Many believe that immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, hold down wages in low paying jobs. Especially in areas such as Californias Central Valley where most of the workers are immigrant and up to 40% are believed to be illegal (Kirschten 16). Illegal Immigration The main concern with illegal immigration is the strain it can place upon the economy. There are also concerns about the nations sovereignty, if America cant control its borders then America may not be perceived as a sovereign nation (Mont 16). Illegal immigration is not only bad for the nation, but for the illegal immigrant as well. The fact that illegal workers have no recourse in the law makes them susceptible to unscrupulous business people who will exploit them simply to make money.
The supply of illegal workers has created a part of the United States business economy that works outside of government regulations (Suro 34). Illegal immigrants face lower wages, unsafe work environments, and a lack of benefits. This in turn keeps wages low and makes it difficult for legal residents to get these jobs. Most employers are looking at the bottom line and illegal immigrant workers mean less wages and benefits cost, which add up to more profit. The government of course passed laws in 1986 making it unlawful to hire illegal immigrants; then they failed to fund the enforcement of these same laws (Suro 32).
In reality illegal aliens make up less than 2% of the population, but what seems like an insignificant number of people has had great impact on our nation (Suro 50). The irony of the entire situation is that while the nation is calling for an end to illegal immigration, no one is forcing illegal immigrants to leave (Suro 35). While illegal aliens violate the law with their presence, we guarantee their children access to public education and emergency medical care (Suro 35). This is just one example of the many contradictions in Americas immigration policies. These contradictions are what lead to the frustration many people feel toward a system that is no longer in control. Many citizens, especially the working poor, feel that illegal immigrants sometimes receive more benefits.
The reality of illegal immigration is that it has been an increasingly difficult problem to solve. For three decades now our government has been trying to find ways to alleviate the number of illegal immigrants in the nation. One attempt was the Amnesty program in the mid-90s for those who had been in the country since 1992 (Suro 40). Suro states that this covered only about 60% of the illegal population and drew much debate from California. Which is ironic seeing as how California is often at the forefront of the campaign against illegal immigration. Illegal immigration has become a familiar part of American society and will not likely see much improvement in the next millenium. The Future of Immigration INS has published a booklet called Strategic Plan: INS 200, Accepting the Challenge, which outlines their mission and objectives for the coming year.
Most of these objectives are the same as they have always been: facilitate compliance with the law, create disincentives in the workplace, increase the security of INS documentation, and work with other agencies (U.S. Immigration..). This isnt the first time the INS has had good objectives, but it isnt likely that they will receive the necessary funding to implement these plans successfully. Our government has tried to curb the flow of illegal immigrants with such actions as the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], which is expected to reduce illegal migration from Mexico (U.S. Immigration.. 5).
The problem is the timing of such policies; NAFTA is expected to work only after a decade in which Mexico can produce the jobs needed. The INS also reports that by the year 2000, the population of prime labor age in America will drop by 8.5 million. That is a large loss of labor and can only be offset by the immigrant population. The key is to make sure that this decrease is offset by a legal immigrant population. That is what the government attempted to do with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Marley 880). The intent was to cut back on crime, terrorism, and welfare fraud.
They fell short of their intent because the inadvertently clumped all immigrants together, both legal and illegal (Marley 885). America will continue to allow immigrants to enter the country for numerous reasons; such as those who take up a common cause against a foreign foe, as a gesture of shame after some foreign debacle, for economic reasons, and for purely humanitarian purposes (United States). recently we saw our government agree to accept 20,000 Kosovar refugees, and financially help with 20,000 more in Albania. Now 20,000 is a tiny gesture in the big picture, but in a world of crises how many times can our government afford such gestures. Can America continue to play the role of the last true hope for the huddled masses of the world? Conclusion Illegal immigration must be curbed. If nothing else it is unfair to those who wait for years to come to America legally.
Currently illegal immigrants can choose to leave on their own meaning they can come back legally if they choose. Our laws say that we can formally deport these illegal immigrants and bar them from legal entry. Why does our government continue to create loopholes in the laws they pass. I dont feel that those enter the country illegally should have a right to return; if they are willing to break immigration laws they are more likely to break other laws. What does this policy say to those who lawfully await entry? That in America youre only guilty if youre caught and then only if you dont agree to leave quietly.
The lack of punishment for illegal migration is one of the reasons behind its increase. That however is just my opinion and the would not disappear even if strict punishments were the norm. It is clear that the debate and controversy over immigration will not go away anytime in the near future. What is not clear however is how the nation will fare in the midst of such debate. In the past Americans were proud to be that one shining hope in the world.
They were willing to accept the tired and poor, but America has changed and immigration must change also. To those in underdeveloped countries the Statue of Liberty and her invitation to a better life must be hard to resist. What they dont see is what lies beyond her golden torch; a country teeming with people in fierce competition for that elusive dream of a better life. As a student of history and someone who is proud of my heritage I want to say let them come. Let all who need a better life come to America and try to build it here.
As a realist I know that our country can only support so many people. There are only so many jobs, so much land for housing, and so forth. Maybe someday in the near future there will be a balance found between the economics and the humanitarianism. A balance that will allow those searching for a better life to come to America and know that they add to our nations success. The days of give me your tired, your poor may have to end but our door should always be open to those longing to work toward a better tomorrow in a land of freedom. Works Cited Amselle, Jorge. Immigrants: Helping or Harming the U.S.?.
The World & I 10 (1995): 60. Bean, Frank D., Barry Edmonston, and Jefferey S. Passel. Undocumented Migration to the United States:IRCA and the Experience of the 1980s.Washington: The Urban Institute Press, 1990. Briggs, Vernon M., Jr.
Mass Immigration and the National Interest. 2nd ed. Armonk: Sharpe, 1996. Castro, Max J. Free Markets, Open Societies, Closed Borders? Trends in International Migration and Immigration Policy in the Americas. Coral Gables: North-South Center, 1999.
Divine, Robert A. American Immigration Policy, 1924-1952. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957. Immigration Enforcement Improvements Act of 1995:FAct Sheet. Lectric Law Library.
9 Nov. 1999 *http://lectlaw.com/files/imm05.htm* Kirschten, Dick. Supply and Demand. Government Executive 31 (May 1999): 16. Marley, Bruce Robert. Exiling the new felons:The consequences of the retroactive application of aggravated felony convictions to lawful permanent residents.
San Diego Law Review 35 (1998 Summer): 855-895. Mont, Daniel. Welfare and Immigrants. Migration World 6 (1996): 8-20. Suro, Robert.
Watching Americas Door: The Immigration Backlash and the New Policy Debate. New York: The Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1996. United States;The Next Masses. Economist 1 May 1999: 26-28. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Strategic Plan: Toward INS 2000: Accepting the Challenge. Political Issues.
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