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Immigration Essay

1841 words - 8 pages

Throughout its history, the United States has secured its position as a haven for immigrants from all corners of the world. For many centuries, millions of immigrants have inhabited to the nation’s shores, to take advantage of the greater economic opportunities and the freedoms that America enjoys as a free, democratic society. Debates in the public and academic domain have suggested that illegal immigrants contribute both positively and negatively to the United States, forcing legislators to grapple with finding best mechanisms to address the problem. Illegal immigration also poses serious questions on the country’s economy, and how to address the growing demand for low-cost labor while at ...view middle of the document...

The current impasses facing the ongoing immigration policy reform in the United States are fuelled by the contention on whether to create a clear pathway to provide legal permanent residence to immigrants, and then the eventual U.S. citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants across the country. Although the passage of The Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 provided a starting point to increase border control and enforcement, it failed to curtail illegal immigration. Over the last few decades, efforts such as the enactment of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 elucidate the increase in interior enforcement at the expense of the majority of immigrants without clear legal status in the country. More than half of the States have adopted numerous immigration policy and laws aimed at driving out undocumented immigrants (Hotchkiss & Quispe-Agnoli, 2013).
While these strict policies have achieved success in reducing the inflow of illegal immigrants, the great recession of 2008 relatively weakened the economy in the United States. Whether to provide a legalization program as part of efforts to address unauthorized immigration, policymakers must also consider the array of the economic implications of an amnesty. Consequently, many politicians and other prominent voices continue to argue that unauthorized immigrants are a huge economic drain based on the economic costs associated with law enforcement, education and the inevitable use of state and federal health and social services by people without clear legal status in the country. In this case, the continued entry and presence of these undocumented individuals in the country is seen to have a negative impact on the economic opportunities for Americans with verifiable legal citizenship.
The economic arguments against alien workers include the cost to taxpayers in the form of ‘illegal’ and ‘criminal’ facets of illegal immigration, such as the law enforcement costs, border patrol and security systems, measures to deter, detain and deport the unauthorized, and related crimes including human trafficking and drug smuggling. It is highlighted in the Heritage Foundation report that, financial and material costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants costs the public billions of dollars, with a growing number of states, including California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and New York absorbing the greatest economic impact (Orrenius & Zavodny, 2012).
Economic Effects of Unauthorized Immigrants
i. Crime, Law Enforcement And Incarceration
Following increased efforts to crack down illegal immigrants, incarceration of ‘criminal aliens’ has contributed to the disproportionate representation of undocumented immigrants in the American prison system. Popular stereotypes to link the undocumented with criminality have often shaped public discourse, which to a great extent influences policy and decision making of many current local, state and federal legislations against illegal immigration (Orrenius & Zavodny,...

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