Cost versus Benefits of Illegal Immigration

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Year after year thousands of people choose to come to the United States to start a new life. These people leave their home countries with the dream of freedom that they would never have where they come from. However, some chose to disregard our laws and come to this country illegally. It is estimated that there are over 10 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. today. The effects of Illegal immigration are many, one being the cost and how it affects many aspects of our economy. One aspect of our economy that is affected the most is health care. When an illegal immigrant is sick or injured they go to a hospital. This in itself is not the issue the issue is that they often do not have the money to pay their bill. Some will give false identities others just do not pay. Hospitals cannot refuse treatment, so this leaves us the taxpayers, to take on the burden of paying for those costs. Another major affect illegal immigration has on the economy is that most illegals will work for much less than our current minimum wage. This makes it difficult for legal Americans to find work and puts a strain on the economy. There is also the issue of U.S. border security and keeping illegal immigrants out. One new resolution to this issue is building a fence, which will cost millions of dollars to build, maintain and defend.

After all of that you might think, "Are there any benefits to illegal immigration?" According to some groups there are. Some think illegal immigration keeps the economy moving by filling low-wage jobs; farmers are able to plant and harvest their crops less expensively; millions of illegal's rent properties in areas where renters are hard to find. There are also those who say that illegal's contribute to social security funds, which often go unclaimed; contribute to mortgage loan profits, open bank accounts that yield interest and dividends to bankers and purchase real estate and generate commissions for agents and brokers. (Garibaldi) In general, illegal immigrants coming from Mexico, South and Central America are trying to make money and help support their families. Many of them are fleeing oppression, unemployment and poverty. Again, it truly depends on who you talk to in order to find any benefits to illegal immigration. There are few sources that include benefits of illegal immigration to the United States. It seems to me that the negative effects outweigh the positive ones.

Many studies have been done which document the fact that illegal immigrants are a major burden on local communities. Federation for American Immigration Reform or (FAIR) claims that illegal immigration is a key factor influencing the number of people without healthcare in the U.S. and the reason for the fiscal crisis burdening public healthcare systems. (Immigration issues) A recent study claims that one in every four people in the United States is an immigrant. Nearly half of the immigrants living in the U.S. either have no insurance or it is provided to them at the taxpayers' expense. As much as two-thirds of operating costs for some hospitals are for uncompensated care for sick or injured illegal aliens. This increase in uncompensated care has forces some hospitals to reduce staff, eliminate services and shut down certain areas such as maternity wards and trauma centers.

In California, legislators are debating a government fix for the California health care market. Largely because of government policies, regulations and mandates, the cost of hiring a legal employee in California far exceeds the cost of hiring the same employees in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Washington. The tax burden on California businesses far exceeds the burdens on businesses in those same states, and despite its abundant energy resources, California pays more for energy than any other state except Hawaii. So how can businesses survive in this kind of environment? Some move out of state, while others choose a different route. Some pay employees under the table, some hire illegal aliens and participate in an underground economy. Theses underground economies exist in response to avoid government costs and regulations. These underground economies are not fair to legitimate business people and can have many side effects, such as the cost illegal immigration inflicts on public education, hospitals and prisons.

Many issues arise when a company chooses to hire an illegal immigrant over an American citizen. In the end, nobody truly benefits. For a while, the company may benefit because their operating costs will be lower. However, when they are eventually caught, the resulting fines and the loss of business due to being shut down will quickly overturn the amount saved by hiring the illegal. This also has a negative effect on the American citizen who now must rely on welfare because the illegal immigrant took the only job available. More and more people have to rely on welfare which puts even more of a burden on all taxpayers. Approximately 50 percent of wage-loss among low-skilled Americans is due to the immigration of low-skilled workers. Many American workers lose their jobs through unfair competition. An estimated 1,880,000 American workers are displaced from their jobs every year by immigration and the cost for providing welfare and assistance to these Americans is over $15 billion a year. (Economic Costs)

Many wonder if a border fence is a good solution to keeping illegal immigrants out of the U.S. It has been the topic of many debates around the country. There are many people on both sides of the issue. According to many north and south of the fence, it is working. Since about only one fifth of the fence is complete, those who planned to cross where the fence is now can simply go elsewhere. U.S. officials have vowed to complete nearly 400 of the 700 miles of the fence by the end of 2008. The big question is how much this the fence going to cost? The House Appropriations Committee estimates that the fence will cost around $9 million per mile, for a total cost of approximately $6.3 billion. However, the House Homeland Security committee estimates that the fence will cost about $2 to $4 billion. Some say the fence could cost upwards of $50 billion to build. There is also the issue of maintaining the fence. It is estimated that maintaining the fence could cost nearly $70 million per mile over its 25 year life span. Will the benefits of the fence outweigh the costs associated with building the fence? It all depends on who you ask. Some say the fence is pointless if it does not cut deep enough into the ground since the discovery of more and more tunnels linking the U.S. and Mexico. Some feel that we have to do whatever it takes to protect our borders and keep illegal immigrants out.

It is not a violation of the law to leave the scene of an accident in Mexico as it is in the United States. It should not be surprising that Mexicans driving in the U.S., especially those here illegally and driving without a license or insurance are more likely to flee from the scene of a car accident than a U.S. driver. (FAIR) There are ten states that do not require 'lawful proof of presence' for an applicant to obtain a driver's license. In these ten states, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, 14.4% of traffic fatalities are caused be non-licensed drivers, compared to the national average of 13.6%. The top ten states containing the highest population of illegal immigrants are California, Texas, New York, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey and Colorado. In these states, 14.6% of fatalities from car accidents are caused by unlicensed drivers. The percentage of hit-and-run drivers is higher in these states as well.

Some say that illegal immigration is a 'victimless crime'. Consider this: Over 25% of today's prison population consists of illegal aliens. Violent crime and drug possession and distribution are prevalent among illegal immigrants. In Los Angeles, 95% of about 1500 outstanding warrants for homicides are for illegal aliens. About 67% of the 17,000 outstanding fugitive felony warrants are for illegal aliens. There are currently over 400,000 unaccounted for illegal alien criminals with outstanding deportation orders, of which at least 25% are hard core criminals. There are 80,000 to 100,000 illegals who have been convicted of serious crimes that are walking the streets. Some studies say they will commit on average 13 serious crimes per offender. At least 4.5 million pounds of cocaine is smuggled across the southern border every year. Illegal immigrants commit anywhere from 700,000 to 1,289,000 or more crimes in a given year. Approximately 2,158 murders are committed by illegal immigrants each year. Illegal sexual predators commit an estimated 130,900 sex crimes every year. There are approximately 240,000 illegal sex offenders throughout the United States, who will commit an average of eight sex crimes before being caught. Nearly 63% of these sex offenders have been deported on another offense prior to committing the sex crime. Only 2% of illegal sex offenders had no history of criminal behavior. Though nobody knows just how big, the sex slave problem is enormous. Given these facts, how could illegal immigration possibly be considered a 'victimless crime'? (usillegalaliens.com)

From the information found, the costs far outweigh the benefits of this issue. Illegal immigration cannot be ignored. It is not fair to the immigrants who chose to follow our laws and come to this country legally so that they may become true American citizens and live "The American Dream." Without immigrants, the United States of America would not be what it is today. We are all from somewhere else, and while the laws were different when many of our ancestors came here, the law is the law and must be followed. If someone wants to come to this country to make a better life for themselves and their families, they must follow the law, become legal citizens, learn about our country and learn to speak English. Illegal immigration is a crime and is not acceptable. The United States and its citizens simply cannot afford it.

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