There are various forms of contentious issues in the U.S. The contention mostly reflects the high level of diversity among Americans. America has always taken pride in being the land of opportunity. It is a vast nation that emphasizes that every person has an equal opportunity to prosper through hard work. This American Dream is a huge attraction for many people with unique aspirations and dreams. The result of this attraction has been the rise in illegal immigration, a phenomenon which is debated in equal measure by the proponents and the opponents. Some of the issues that have been correlated with illegal immigration include the loss of American jobs, drug cartels, high crime rate, and a deterioration of the living standards of life. It was estimated that the U.S. had approximately 11.2 illegal immigrants in 2015, raising more concerns about the quality of the U.S. immigration policy (Hainmueller et al. 530). Many people have come to believe that illegal immigrants are detrimental to the rest of the population while others point out that they play critical roles in the American economy. Recently, with the rise in domestic terrorism across the world, some opponents of immigration are calling for profiling to stifle terrorism and other related vices. The issue of illegal immigration has, therefore, continued to spark debate across the nation.
The Proponents of Illegal Immigration
Some people believe that illegal immigrants complement the labor force by introducing a wide range of skills. Survey reports have also supported this assertion by showing that corporate organizations have increasingly adopted immigrants in various positions. Some of the professions that the undocumented immigrants have taken up have contributed to job growth for other American people. Woods, Joshua, and Arthur cite that there “were about 8.5 million illegal immigrants employed in the U.S. labor force in 2015” (438). This population of undocumented immigrants represented 5.3% of the national labor force. There is no doubt that without the immigrants, the labor force would decrease by a huge proportion causing a significant impact on the states’ GDP. Some economists argue that the American economy relies on the illegal immigrants because they accept low salaries, pay taxes, and consume goods, all of which contribute to the expansion of the national economy. From this point of view, it is evident that undocumented immigrants complement the labor force by introducing a wide range of skills and supporting the economy. Not only does immigration provide a reasonable and complementary source of labor, but they also influence the efficient allocation of resources, improve productivity and create more opportunities for others. This is a positive influence on the labor economy.
The Opponents of Illegal Immigration
At the same time, there have been concerns that illegal immigration takes away jobs from the American population. Illegal immigration does contribute to the loss of jobs. This is because illegal immigrants are most likely to take up low-paying jobs. The employers take advantage of their asking prices because they have limited opportunities in a foreign land. The impact of this practice is the emergence of a trend where general employment in the economic sectors becomes less attractive to the native residents (Mayda et al. 108). Given that there are over 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the labor sector in 2011, the situation could not be any worse as the number of immigrants threatens to continue rising. Should this number continue to rise as predicted, more jobs will be taken away by the undocumented immigrants who will continue to lower the wage rate. The unemployment levels in the economy will rise as a result of poor wages.
Ngai cites that “it is the Americans at the bottom who increasingly suffer from illegal immigrants’ job competition” (11). This is because a majority of immigrant workers in the U.S. arrive with limited education but can perform similar tasks as Americans with no specialized training or college education. Immigrants are clustered more in the service industry and other factory positions, which are some of the jobs that are mainly held by the American-born population with limited education.
There have also been reports that illegal immigrants have overwhelmed the nation with serious crimes. Golash-Boza cites that “undocumented immigrants account for disturbingly high levels of violent crimes” (12). This is an assertion backed by data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission which indicates that, while illegal immigrants make up about 3.6% of the American population, they represent 7% of prison sentences for convictions on charges of murder (9%), assault (12%), and kidnappings (30%). The rise of terrorism-related cases among undocumented immigrants has also escalated the correlation between illegal immigration and crime.
According to Mastrobuoni, Giovanni, and Pinotti, “foreign-born terrorists who entered the U.S. as immigrants were responsible for 88% of the 3,432 murders caused by terrorists on American soil from 1975 through the end of 2015” (178). In 2015 alone, about 30,000 undocumented immigrants entered the U.S. from nations of terrorist concern. Knowing that terrorism is a major hazard to human life and prosperity, the rise in the number of immigrants from countries of terrorism concern has escalated the level of potential threat that the public could be facing each day from undocumented immigrants. The potential threat of illegal immigrants from such nations cannot be ignored for the sake of public safety. This is a daunting task for security agents because efforts to curtail the phenomenon only serves to drive migrant laborers underground, thereby promoting the culture of illegality. This is a security dilemma brought about by illegal immigration.
Handling Illegal Immigration
Illegal immigration is of huge concern to the Americans for various reasons. We can all agree that the presence of many illegal immigrants in the U.S. is a strong testament to the attractiveness of American Dream. Typically, illegal immigrants enter the U.S. for the search of a better life. America will always be the nation that was founded on the principles of equality and opportunity, which have attracted other people to join in search of this promise. Both sides of the illegal immigration debate desire a safe society, perhaps the society should focus more on providing an efficient legal entry that must be contingent upon a considerable waiting time. This would allow for the security agencies enough time to screen immigrants against criminal and terrorism database. Djajić, Slobodan, and Michael cite that “a provision for efficient legal entry will encourage many migrants to exit the nation, knowing that they have the freedom to return under reasonable regulations” (821). This will mitigate the present situation where the difficulty of re-entering America discourages migrants from leaving.
Illegal immigration is a contentious issue in America. Some of the concerns that have been linked with illegal immigration include increased unemployment and insecurity. Some proponents of illegal immigration claim that it is necessary for the economy because a majority of migrants take up jobs and contribute towards administration in taxes. Though this debate is likely to continue, the proponents and opponents desire to see a safer and economically stable U.S.A. With this objective in mind, the society requires more appropriate security measures that screen and register individuals as they enter the country. This will be a major step towards solving the concerns associated with illegal immigration. Immigrants epitomize the attractiveness of America.
Djajić, Slobodan, and Michael S. Michael. “Controlling Illegal Immigration: On the Scope for Cooperation With a Transit Country.” Review of International Economics, vol. 22, issue 4, Sept. 2014, pp. 808-24.
Golash-Boza, Tanya Maria. Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post-9/11 America. Routledge, 2015.
Hainmueller, Jens, and Daniel J. Hopkins. “The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes Toward Immigrants.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 59, issue 3, July 2015, pp. 529-48.
Mastrobuoni, Giovanni, and Paolo Pinotti. “Legal Status and the Criminal Activity of Immigrants.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol. 7, no. 2, April 2015, pp. 175-206.
Mayda, Anna Maria, Giovanni Peri, and Walter Steingress. Immigration to the US: A Problem for the Republicans or the Democrats? No. w21941. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2016.
Ngai, Mae M. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton University Press, 2014.
Woods, Joshua, and C. Damien Arthur. “The Threat of Terrorism and the Changing Public Discourse on Immigration after September 11.” Sociological Spectrum, vol. 34, issue 5, Aug. 2014, pp. 421-41.