First Year Compostion
15 May 2012
First Year Composition
15 May 2012
Immigration Reform-Is It Necessary?
The United States has a long and rich history of immigration seeping in its veins. Our country was founded by immigrants. Our great nation is considered "The Melting Pot" blend of all other countries and their heritages and traditions. So why have we closed our doors and chosen to erect fences around our great country in an attempt to keep out modern day immigrants? Is it not true that anyone who so desires to reside in the United States of America should be given the opportunity to do so? Throughout this paper, we will examine the role of Immigrants in our society, how they impact our society as a whole presently, what impact they might have should they be granted legal status in the U.S., and why we should revise our immigration policy.
Let's begin by examining what immigration looks like in our modern day society. As of the mid-1990s, President Clinton signed legislation that reduced the legal immigrat population to 550,000 per year (History, Sec 2). The first question that comes to mind when examining these numbers is "How did they pick this number?" Who gave them the right to restrict
immigration into the United States to any number, let alone such a low one? According to the History of Immigration in the United States, 8 million immigrants came into the United States between 2000 and 2005 (Sec 2). Only about half of these 8 million immigrants chose to come in the country legally. So what happens to the other half, the so called illegal immigrants? What should become of them? Should they be allowed access to our educational system? Should they pay taxes like the rest of us who are in the country as legal citizens? Let's examine the numbers a little more closely. Arizona alone has an estimated 500,000 people in the state who are here illegally (Illegal Immigration, Chart 1). That's an estimated 4 percent of the total illegal immigrant population in the United States of approximately 11 million. What burdens and costs do these people place on our society? At present time, it is estimated that an average of 27,500 illegal immigrants are in jail or prison each night (ProCon, Sec 4). Each immigrant costs us $95 a day, which adds up to a total of over $1,000,000,000 annually (ProCon, Sec 4). Further, we spend another $3.6 billion dollars annually on border patrol efforts (AnswerBag, Par 1). This doesn't even include another $1.6 billion dollars that we spend on Customs enforcement (AnswerBag, Par. 1). Other costs of illegal immigrants being in this country include emergency room costs that are not repaid due to a lack of insurance, educational costs to educate the children of illegal immigrants, and welfare programs such as food stamps that the legal children of illegal immigrants qualify for. Huge amounts of money are being spent by our society to assist these illegal immigrants, but how much are they putting into the system? Very little, if anything at all is the short answer to that question. Because of their illegal immigrant status,
immigrants have difficulty in obtaining a job from which tax deductions are withheld and they are paying into the system. So why don't we grant all eleven million illegal immigrants legal status and let them start contributing to our economy? Wouldn't it make more sense to allow them access to our great land and allow them to contribute to our economy? If we could save the billions of dollars that we spend needlessly on illegal immigrants, could we not better use that money to improve our schools or provide health care for our poorest citizens?
We have seen that immigration costs us billions of dollars. That is a cold, hard indisputable fact that cannot be argued. In fact, it is a key argument of those that are opposed to allowing our immigrant population accesss to our lands that they cost us so much money. The counter argument, however, is that why should they cost us money? Why not allow them to contribute and help stimulate our economy? If they were all given the opportunity to hold any job that they qualify for, one would assume that many of our immigrant population would move up from the entry level, minimium wage (and sometimes below minimum wage) jobs that they presently hold. Immigrants would be paid "on the books" instead of "under the table" and would have taxes withheld from their paychecks. How would we go about accomplishing this? Under what circumstances should so called illegal immigrants be granted amnesty and given legal status in the United States? A few ideas will be presented in the following paragraphs.
In order to become a United States citizen, it could be argued that one should be a model citizen and of good character to begin with. What qualities and attributes should
comprise a good United States citizen? To begin with, one should steer clear of violations of the law. It is a given that a clean criminal record would be the starting point of any negotiations regarding immigration reform and granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. But what more should be required of those who desire to reside legally here in the United States? As previously mentioned, legal citizens of the United States are able to hold jobs and contribute into the tax system. So why not require that any immigrant who desires permanent, full citizenship to maintain a legal, tax paying job? They would not only be stimulating our economy through their tax dollars, but also their paycheck that they receive every other Friday would be spent here in the United States further stimulating the economy. Each dollar that they spend would create jobs for their landlords that are renting to them, their auto dealer that sells them their cars, the grocery store that sells them their food, and so on. Eleven million people, all legally employed, could have a huge positive impact on our nation's economy.
What else should be required of potential legal citizens of the United States, aside from gainful employment? One of the biggest fears of the anti-immigrant crowd is their destabilizing effect on our country. Events like the September 11th bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon helped fuel our nation's overall mistrust of those who are foreign born. What counter argument could be made against this? Currently, the DREAM Act offers one possible solution to this. It would require that any child who was brought into this country illegally either complete a tour of military service or attend college here in the United States. Focusing on the military
service aspect of that proposal, we see that a possible requirement of obtaining citizenship could and should be pledging allegiance to the United States of America. This would mean more than just merely reciting the same words that are found in the Pledge of Allegiance. It would require that the oath taker be serious about being a United States citizen. It means that the oath taker have a strong, fervent desire to be a citizen of the United States and will do his or her utmost to contribute positively to our society.
What else could we require of our potential citizens? Another characteristic of a good citizen is what they contribute to our society through their actions. An example of a good citizen might be one who does things charitably like building houses for Habitat for Humanity and makes financial contributions to organizations like the Catholic church. What we would require of these immigrants is that they donate either their time or their money to a good cause and be positive role models for the community. If an immigrant can show that they are contributing positively to our society as a whole, they should be considered for legal status here in the United States.
Why should we accomplish immigration reform? The answer is two-fold really. Our country was founded on its open border principles and its access to anyone who desires to be here. It seems hypocritical on some level to deny citizenship to people who are of good character and who remain law abiding citizens and call ourselves the "Land of the Free." The other reason we should open up our lands to anyone who desires it is purely economical. By doing so, we open up our economic possibilites. We would decrease the money we spend on
incarceration of illegal immigrants, money spent on welfare assistance for those that are unable to obtain jobs as illegals, lost money on unncessary emergency room visits, and countless other costs of illegal immigration. We would see money funneling into our tax base as illegal immigrants obtain jobs and have taxes withheld from their checks. The money they receive in pay would in turn be spent and stimulate the economy in other ways. Overall, granting legal status to immigrants would prove to be highly beneficial to our country as a whole provided they could meet certain requirements.
"History of Immigration to the United States." Usimmigrationsupport.org. U.S. Immigration Support, n.d. Web. 3 May 2012.
"How Much do the United States spend on Border Patrol?" Answerbag. Answerbag, 13 June 2010. Web. 3 May 2012.
"Illegal Immigration to the United States." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 14 May 2012. Web. 15 May 2012.
ProCon.org "How does Illegal immigration affect the U.S. Prison System?"