The Left on Immigration
Election season is fast approaching, and along with it comes the rehashing of the major problems which face the United States. As always one the most debated and discussed topics is that of illegal immigration.
Many citizens of the United States believe undocumented immigrants cause great harm to this country and its people, when in reality the opposite is often true.
A common misconception about undocumented immigrants is that the number of them is increasing. Donald Trump, a GOP presidential candidate, recently claimed the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States was at least 30 million.
In reality, the number of undocumented immigrants has slowly decreased over the past decade. It was estimated 11.4 million undocumented immigrants were living in the United States in 2012. This number had fallen from the estimated 12 million in 2007.
Undocumented immigrants are not stealing from the United States government either. A recent study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants pay 11.8 billion dollars in taxes yearly.
Mathew Gardner, executive director of ITEP claimed, “Undocumented immigrants already are paying billions in taxes to state and local governments, and if they are allowed to work in the country legally, their state and local tax contributions will increase significantly.” Even though they are not citizens, undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes towards programs which mainly assist legal citizens.
Often times, the most prominent arguments against undocumented immigrants involve jobs and unemployment. Many people believe undocumented immigrants will take jobs away from hard working legal citizens, but this has been proven false time and time again.
In 2011 Georgia passed House Bill 87. This bill allowed the state to enforce very strict immigration laws which would decrease the number of undocumented workers to almost none.
Proponents of the bill hoped it would open up for legal citizens and boost the economy, but the opposite occurred. All throughout Georgia, there were major labor shortages, especially in agriculture.
Theses shortages in labor ended up causing an estimated $140 million in agricultural losses. Undocumented immigrants lost their jobs, farm owners and other workers lost money, and the people of Georgia ended up having to pay more for their food.
This is not just an issue in Georgia either. The majority of farm workers are undocumented immigrants.
Out of the one million farm workers in the United States, 85% of them are immigrants and 70% are undocumented. The simple fact is native born American citizens will almost never do farm work.
In 2010 this was proven again when the United Farm Workers launched the Take Our Jobs campaign. The campaign offered for legal citizens of the United States to take the job of an undocumented worker.
Less than six months after the start over 3 million people had visited the website, but only seven had actually followed through and taken a job as a farm worker.
It is problematic to say undocumented workers are taking jobs when only seven Americans took up the offer in a time where the unemployment rate was almost ten percent. Undocumented workers do the work which natural born citizens refuse which in turn boosts the economy.
In a perfect world, there would be no illegal immigration; anyone willing to work would be able to obtain legal citizenship and be a productive member of society. This is the ideal this country was founded on and the ideal, which led it to being one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. The problem is undocumented immigrants cannot always become legal citizens. According to the American Immigration Council 98% percent of them would prefer to be a legal citizen if they had the ability to.
The vast majority of undocumented workers wish to be productive members of society; they don’t want to take jobs from other citizens, they don’t want to steal money from the government, and they don’t want to harm other people.
It is this fact that makes me wonder why people like Donald Trump want to remove all undocumented immigrants. There is zero rationale behind deporting a large group of people who are in the United States to work, and make the country better than before.
Instead of looking for ways to “solve” the illegal immigration problem in this country, politicians should be exploring measures to make sure the people who want to work, and be a productive member of the United States, have the ability to do so.
The Right on Immigration
Immigration in America has remained a highly controversial topic of debate for centuries, spanning every sector of the social spectrum: cultural, political, military, and economic. Candidates for the upcoming presidential primaries continue to dispute what course of action our country should pursue regarding this issue.
However, in order to approach the subject of immigration reform with on open and informed mindset, it is imperative that one understand our nation’s history in this regard. Let’s take a look…
The first naturalization law, passed in 1790, placed no restrictions on immigration. However, within less than a decade, rampant xenophobia led to the sevenfold extension of the residency requirement prescribed in the original act. Ironic how quickly Americans forget where they came from…
By 1843, this nativist spirit had taken on the form of various political factions which petitioned for laws limiting public office to native-born Americans, and a raise in the residency requirement to 25 years.
The Page Act of 1875 began constricting the path to citizenship with the country’s first exclusionary measure. Laws passed in the ensuing decades would extend the ban to other categories deemed less desirable by the U.S.
However, it wasn’t until 1882 that Congress, in its first major legislative restriction, passed a blanket ban on Chinese immigrants.
The Immigration Act of 1891 first called for the deportation of illegal migrants—a costly practice utilized incessantly by the Obama Administration. The Naturalization Act of 1906 then demanded that immigrants learn English before applying for citizenship.
Over the next 40 years, Congress would ratify legislation banning the Japanese and curbing quotas on other allegedly “unassimilable” immigrants — all at the insistence of nationalists, labor unions, progressives, and eugenicists.
A series of regulations authorized between 1921 and 1929 imposed annual numerical limits on immigration and implemented the national origins quota system, giving preference to Northern and Western Europeans. The quota system would not be repealed for another 35 years.
Jumping forward to 1980, the Refugee Act set up the first permanent and systematic procedure for admitting refugees and establishing the process of domestic resettlement.
6 years later, the Immigration Reform and Control Act instituted employer sanctions for knowingly hiring illegal aliens and tightened border control. This act also invested in legalization programs to aid immigrants.
A radical change in policy emerged with the Immigration Act of 1990, which increased legal immigration ceilings by 40 percent and tripled employment-based immigration. Suitably, it also instituted a diversity admissions category and established a temporary protected status for those jeopardized by armed conflict or natural disasters.
Now, few people would argue for a return to the unrestricted system of the Founding Fathers or for the prejudicial policies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A more levelheaded approach must therefore lie somewhere in the middle ground, an approach nearer to that of the late 20th century.
To this end, immigration-policy analyst, Alex Nowrasteh, argues that “[i]ncreasing immigration levels would be a return to the status quo that reigned for most of our nation’s existence. Rather than opposing this return to normality, conservatives should embrace it and push for deregulation that allows foreign workers to legally migrate here.”
The key word here is legally.
According to the Center for American Progress, immigration, when conducted legally, can serve as a “source of economic vitality and demographic dynamism… [because] [i]mmigrants are taxpayers, entrepreneurs, job creators, and consumers.”
We have seen a drastic increase in the foreign-born population over the past decade, totaling some 40.7 million in 2012 (a 31% increase from 2000).
Broken down by status, the population consisted of 18.6 million naturalized U.S. citizens and 22.1 million noncitizens in 2012. Of the noncitizens, approximately 13.3 million were legal permanent residents, 11.3 million were unauthorized migrants, and 1.9 million were on temporary visas.
In response to the sizeable population of undocumented and illegal immigrants, the Federal Government has allocated substantial funding to border security, as it should.
There are currently over 21,000 border patrol agents, 651 miles of fencing, 179 surveillance systems, and 168 camera/radar towers guarding U.S. borders against illegal aliens.
As a result, 81% of the U.S.-Mexico border is now considered controlled, managed, and monitored (the three highest standards of the Department of Homeland Security). Apprehensions at the border remain at historic lows.
Now this should be our nation’s foremost objective: to halt the leak before addressing the issue of those illegal immigrants already inside the country.
Then, and only then, will we begin to see the benefits of an immigrant population which bolsters wages and supplements the earnings of all Americans.
This will expand economic growth, create jobs, increase tax revenues (to offset any use of social programs), contribute to Social Security (unlike the underhanded employment of undocumented immigrants), and promote growth in the labor market.
A majority of Americans do in fact support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. However, the price of their amnesty should be the due process of obtaining citizenship.