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What is America? America is a nation of immigrants. Ever since our country came into existence our borders have been open to anyone who wishes to enter this country legally. We do not have limitations on the country of origin, ethnicity, or culture. The idea of the great melting pot is what defines us as a nation. Unfortunately today we are faced with a problem that threatens our way of life and our continuation as a prosperous nation. This problem is illegal immigration. Every day the effects of this issue become increasingly profound and more Americans are affected. Right now there are over twelve million illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, living in this country. This number is appalling considering that is nearly twelve million jobs that are taken by illegal immigrants. The economic strain on education, welfare, and other social programs such as health care is even more hurtful to our country. Other problems arise when dealing with illegal immigration such as increased crime rates and traffic accidents. The threat of introduction of third world diseases and terrorism also is increased when illegal immigrants enter this country (Wagner 1 of 32). All of these problems are hurting our growth as a nation and put simply, something must be done to slow illegal immigration or stop it completely.
This issue has been in debate for many years now. There are those who are in favor of illegal immigration and those who strongly oppose it. First, an overview of the solutions to stopping illegal immigration will be discussed. Some people believe that amnesty should be granted to the illegal immigrants living in this country now. This would mean that the United States would allow the 12 million immigrants in the country now to become citizens. This solution is often scrutinized because it is giving illegal a freedom that they do not deserve. Others support a mass deportation operation to clear the country of illegal immigrants. This solution is sometimes viewed as being too harsh and too difficult to accomplish. These two solutions only deal with the illegal immigrants that are in the country now. The other issue that must be dealt with is stopping more aliens from entering the country. Some propose a massive increase in National Guard troops to better secure the border. This increase in border security will prove to be expensive and it does not guarantee that illegal immigration will be stopped. Another solution that is sometimes viewed as an extreme is to construct a wall spanning across the border between the United States and Mexico. The next solution that will be discussed is likely the best idea, but will have to work in conjunction with other ideas. This idea involves a guest worker visa program that would allow immigrants to work in the country for a set amount of time (Chavez 154). At the end of their working period immigrants would be required to return to their home country. This allows immigrants to work in the U.S. and make money to support their families back home. Those that support illegal immigration do so for a few reasons. Illegal immigration causes wages for low-skilled workers to go down. This means that goods can be produced for cheaper therefore, making it cheaper for the American consumer. Big business supports illegal immigration as well because they are able to pay less for the same services, therefore maximizing their profits. Human rights organizations do not necessarily support illegal immigration but they do oppose how illegal immigrants are treated. The current policy immigration control is said to "undermine basic due process protections, human rights obligations, and notions of fundamental fairness" (Daskal 1 of 2). These two viewpoints of support and opposition make solving this issue difficult. This is because mixed messages are portrayed to those who wish to enter the country illegally (Navarette 148). The solution I propose is an entire reform of our immigration policy. This, however, will not be enough to solve this issue. The American people also must take a stand on this issue and make sacrifices in order to better our country as a whole.
In order to have the entire county's support on this issue, many people must be convinced that stopping illegal immigration will be beneficial to us. First of all, illegal immigration is flat out wrong and unfair. It is not right that someone can enter this country and hold a job and not pay income taxes. Because illegal immigrants do not pay taxes they cause a sizeable strain on the economy. Primarily, illegal immigrants come to this country to make money to support their families still living in Mexico or other Latin American countries. This poses a threat to us because the money made by illegal aliens leaves our country and is not circulated back into our economy. The estimated amount of money that is sent out of the country is around forty-five billion dollars (Wagner 13 of 32). Also, "illegal immigration causes an enormous drain on public funds" (Illegal Immigration 1 of 3). Education, healthcare, welfare, and social security are just some of the programs that suffer. For example, educating the illegal aliens that live in the U.S. costs between twenty-nine and thirty-five billion dollars a year (Wagner 5 of 32). Another factor that must be taken into account when dealing with illegal immigration is job loss. Because there are over twelve million illegal aliens there are nearly that many jobs held by aliens. Outsourcing is often blamed for American unemployment. However many people forget that there are millions jobs right here at home that are taken away from Americans due to illegal immigration. Illegal immigration also has been shown to have a negative effect on nationwide crime rates. It is known that over twenty-five percent of today's federal prison populations are illegal aliens (Wagner 7 of 32). If illegal immigration is stopped America will be safer, the unemployment rate will decrease, and the economy will be much healthier.
Supporters of illegal immigration have a weak argument. There are those that say that illegal immigrants are able to produce cheaper goods for us because they are paid less. This is true. We are able to purchase restaurant meals, agricultural products, and construction services for cheaper (Davidson 2 of 2). However, these cheaper costs are greatly outweighed by the other economic costs to taxpayers as proven above. Corporate America, also known as big business, supports illegal immigration because they are able to make more profits due to cheaper labor costs. Though it sounds appealing that American companies are making more money, it does not help the majority of the population. All this does is increase the stronghold that big business already has on our society. Human rights groups, as stated earlier, are not necessarily in support of illegal immigration, but are against how illegal aliens are treated. This is understandable given the fact that our government has a history of mistreating illegal immigrants. For example, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act permits mandatory detention of non-citizens that cannot be deported (Daskal 1 of 1). Most people agree that many human rights of non-citizens are violated in deportation processes. However, if the illegal immigrants were not here in the first place their rights would have never been violated. This brings us to the next point to be discussed: How do we solve the problem of illegal immigration?
"Illegal immigration looms as a unique and disturbing challenge to our cultural integrity, our national identity, and potentially our future as a country" (Huntington 169). Our current immigration policy is greatly flawed in three major ways. First, "stricter border controls have proved unable to stem illegal immigration flows, leading instead to rising human rights abuses and victimization of border-crossers" (Stoll 2 of 7). Also, immigration contributes to a decrease in wages and decreased job availability. Lastly, it has been shown that many refugees fleeing cruel authoritarian governments are rejected by the United States. Many of the solutions that have been formed to combat illegal immigration are unlikely to actually produce results. Granting amnesty to over twelve million immigrants, for example, will not stop illegal aliens from entering the country. Amnesty means that we are basically rewarding the illegal immigrants that are already here with citizenship. Doing this will do everything but deter more people from coming to the U.S. Another proposed solution to deal with the existing immigrants is to deport all of them. It must be stated that this is an unrealistic goal. The amount of money and manpower needed to carry out an operation such as this is astronomic. The process would take an enormous amount of time and while we are deporting more illegal aliens would enter the country. Increasing security along the border with a giant wall is foolish. Not only would this wall cause us to lose face in the view of the world, but it is sad to think that in the twenty-first century we would be forced to build an archaic wall to keep people out of our country. In order to successfully control illegal immigration there must be a series of steps taken. First, we must eliminate the desire for illegal immigrants to enter the country. This means, that the government must be strict and enforce penalties on companies that hire illegal immigrants. Also, we must step up and refine our guest worker visa program. The current program in place allows too few guest workers and many of the immigrants continue working in the United States after their visas have expired. Lastly, the American people must demand a change by refusing to accept services that use illegal immigrant labor. The prices of goods and services may increase as a result, but wages of the American worker will increase, therefore, making up the difference in prices. This solution will take time and sacrifice, but the results will be well worth it.
The single most important domestic issue in the United States today is illegal immigration. This issue is affecting more Americans everyday and has the potential to cripple this nation due to increasing economic costs. If this issue is dealt with in a timely manner and the right course of action is chosen the benefits will be substantial. First, millions of jobs will reopen and be taken back by American citizens, thus stimulating our economy. Also, crime rates will decrease and overpopulation of federal prisons will disappear. Stopping this country's problem of illegal immigration is completely possible with simple policy reform and more importantly, public will. It is ultimately up to us, the citizens of this nation, to bring about a change for a prosperous future in the United States of America.