Should We Give Illegal Immigrants a Path to Citizenship?
The issue of immigrants in the United States has been a heated topic in the past decade. The nation is currently having a large number of immigrants that have taken some roles that that seem to reduce opportunities for the locals. Initially, America forged its identity grounded on the fact that individuals who come in and work hard obeying the rules and regulations besides contributing positively to the success of the nation will be part of it. This implied that citizenship in the nation would encompass identity. Nonetheless, this long standing promise has been overridden by many change of events. For instance, in the just concluded presidential elections, the issue of immigrants took a center stage, with the POTUS elect, Donald Trump promising to have a stern standing on the immigrants in the US and construction a wall on the American Mexico border. Others have called for a somber manner in dealing with the immigrants whom they believe play a significant role in the economy of the nation. The main question is, should we give immigrants a path to citizenship?
2. Reasons Against Giving Illegal Immigrants a Path to Citizenship
Currently, it is estimated that there are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants occupied in the shadow economy of the United States (House, 2013). It is apparent that a good number of employers hire these illegal undocumented employees, thereby damaging the business sector. Furthermore, enrolling illegal immigrants in the business sector also poses a threat to the general wellbeing of the American society. Several edicts have been passed in the nation with an aim of providing an opportunity to sort out the damaged immigration system, for instance, the Bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act among others. The rational legislation that was conscripted and backed by both Democrats and Republicans entailed four main pillars in addressing the immigration concept. They were aimed at:
• Strengthening the national borders
• Dealing with organizations that hire undocumented employees
• Holding the undocumented immigrants answerable before they get citizenship by requiring them to go through the necessary checks like paying penalties, taxes and learning English among other requirements
• Reorganizing the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers
Therefore, immigrants should not be allowed for a path to citizenship since there is no need to provide amnesty to individuals who do not respect and acknowledge the nations rules and regulations by using illegal means to enter the nation. This is similar to rewarding criminals, which, will send a wrong message other nations and nationals to encourage illegal immigration.
Another argument provided as to why immigrants should not be given a path for citizenship is that it sends a wrong message to the individuals who respect the nations rule of law and follow the required procedure in entering into the nation. Furthermore, the illegal immigrants entering the United States have had a negative impact on the general population by taking away the employment opportunities since they are ready to provide services at a low standard wages.
Economically, the immigrants have also had a damaging implication to the nation. One reason that is given that despises the notion of giving the immigrants a path to citizenship is the fact they are sabotaging the economy in terms of not remitting taxes. Given the fact that immigrants are not duly registered citizens in the nation, they end working at the same time not paying taxes thus putting the whole burden to the legal and other hard working citizens.
3. Benefits of Giving a Path to Citizenship
Generally, the majority of the American population support the concept of path to citizenship. Nonetheless, numerous suggestions emanating from the Congress hold on to the fact that reforms need to only offer legal status and not providing individuals on the right side of the law an opportunity to get their way to citizenship (House, 2013). Therefore, this legalization style undermines the basic norm of the country, which provided that regardless of where individuals come from, they can become American citizens if only they are ready to work for it and assume other responsibilities of citizenship. This concept is aimed at providing a system that enables the undocumented immigrants to become fully Americans subjected under equal rights like other citizens in terms of benefits and responsibilities like paying tax. Despite the fact that the act provides an opportunity for earned citizenship, it is not a simple process since not all individuals will be qualified, but only those who meet the requirements.
Providing a path to earned citizenship will enable construction of a stronger American nation where all individuals are involved in fulfilling their responsibilities as well as investing in their collective future. For example, it is ambiguous to have illegal and undocumented immigrant who are willing to work hard and take up other constructive responsibilities but they can never access full citizenship in the nation. Certainly, this would weaken the principles that make the Unites States strong. Therefore, a strategy to immigration restructuring, which does not entail the path to earned citizenship, is a jeopardy to the concept of immigration reforms and the economic and fiscal benefits of the nation.
Several researches that have been undertaken indicate that a large population of the undocumented illegal immigrants living and working in the United receives low remuneration as compared with regards to their potential. Despite this having a negative implication to individuals, the effect is also felt in the economy since they remit fewer taxes, thus, negatively impacting the United States as compared to when they are given full citizenship and responsibility.
The reforms in the immigration need to effectively address the issue of illegal immigrants in the United States. This is because there are noteworthy economic costs that are associated with this population, for instance, lost growth, earnings, and tax revenues among others as a result of failing to provide them a path to earned citizenship. Additionally, the legalization-only would directly enforce numerous constraints on the legal status existing to the current undocumented immigrants, which can make them fear coming to light. This will have a damaging effect that would have been beneficial from the economic gains of getting these individuals out of the shadows (House, 2013). Therefore, all the American stakeholders, for instance, the Economists, business leaders, and American employees among others need to agree on the past failures in the immigration systems and take advantage of the available opportunity to resolve the systems in an inclusive manner. All the administrative units like the Presidency and the House of Representatives also need to take action through incorporating all parties in coming up with reasonable immigration reforms. Several benefits come along with giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
4. Economic Significance of giving a Path to Earned Citizenship
Despite the fact that citizenship comes with rights, it also comes along with responsibilities. According to the Migration Policy Institute (2012), all immigrant-receiving nations in the current commercial world offer an avenue for the immigrants to become citizens (Sumption & Flamm, 2012). This development, therefore, necessitates the naturalizing of immigrants through a revelation that they have attained a positive level of assimilation into the host nation by meeting a set of aptness standards, for instance, paying fees, or undertaking tests. Nonetheless, the United States has been an exception to this norm. Generally, the United States has been known to allow immigrants in the nation who meet the aptness principles to make an application for citizenship. There has been an increased number of individuals annually who have been naturalized in the past decade.
Therefore, establishing a path to earned citizenship provides the United States with an opportunity to uphold its rich tradition as a nation of immigrants as well as laws. This notion has made the United States to be envied by other nations across the earth as a global economic engine. According to a report by the independent Social Security Actuary (SSA), and nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) among other institutions, it is approximated that immigrants will have an opportunity of paying taxes in both the federal and state levies once they get out of their hiding places, thus raising more income to the nation’s economy.
A research undertaken by the CBO attests that the supplementary duties that will be paid by new and validating immigrants will be significant in offsetting the assessed cost of the Senate immigration bill, besides being considerably sufficient to decrease the shortage by nearly $850 billion in the next 20 years (Act, I., & M., 2013). Furthermore, since offering an earned path to citizenship will permit the present day undocumented illegal immigrants employees to work above board, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy approximates that they will remit more than $2 billion annually in extra state and local tolls. This amount is far beyond the normal $11 billion in taxes received from these employees annually (Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, 2013). These explorations make it apparent that allowing a path to citizenship produces even larger economic benefits as compared to legalization. According to an investigation conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, it was apparent that between 1993 and 2010, naturalized populations in the United States netted between 50 and 70 percent more than noncitizens besides being employed at higher rates in 2010 and 2011 (Sumption & Flamm, 2012). The wage difference among these groups of individuals is attributed to the fact that naturalized immigrants have advanced educational accomplishment, improved English language aptitude, greater representation in high-income segments, and more work experience in the nation.
5. Citizenship and Immigrant Incomes
It is apparent that allowing a path to citizenship for the American immigrants will provide substantial economic and real-world benefits to employees, families, and the general economy of the United States. This is attained through the creation of an effective relationship between naturalization and improved wages, occupation, and procuring power that results in affiliated benefits for the US economy.
There has been adequate evidence to show how citizenship earnings and their significance to the economy are related. According to an investigation by a famous economist, Barry Chiswick in the 1970s, premium, which dates back to the 1970s indicated that citizenship was responsible for 15 percent growth in the wages of men immigrants that decreased to 7 % following the amendment of the period of the United States residence (Chiswick, 1978). Furthermore, in his preceding research carried out in 1992 encompassing an examination of an extensive group of immigrants according to 1980 Census information, Chiswick together with an economist Paul Miller acknowledged a naturalization grounded wage premium of about 5 %.
With regards to these cross-sectional assessments, economists Brent Bratsberg and James Ragan of Kansas State University alongside Zafar Nasir also scrutinized the naturalization premium in 2002 through a longitudinal examination (Bratsberg, Ragan & Nasir, 2002). Their investigation was conducted on a group of young immigrants involving young male from 1979 to 1991. In their findings, they realized that naturalization enhanced wages by averagely 5.6 % in their sample. In summarizing their findings that were available in the Journal of Labor Economics, the researches acknowledged the significance of the literature on integration, particularly for the U.S. strategy on naturalization citizenship. According to the investigations, the scholars attested to the fact that naturalization is a relevant action that takes place during the assimilation process. Allowing a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United Sates hastens the process of labor market integration. This has a positive implication to the United States labor market, which in turn impacts the immigrants and the US population positively.
Furthermore, recent investigations have also stretched the examination to women and endeavored to segregate the impact of citizenship by equating naturalized immigrants with alike non-citizen legal residents. For instance, according to a research in 2008 by economist Ather Akbari of St. Mary’s University, using the 200 Census Bureau microdata, he identified a statistically noteworthy wage premium that was linked with citizenship of approximately 9 to 12 % for immigrants from developing nations (Akbari, 2008). Akbari went ahead and summarized his findings, which indicated that naturalization has an evidently important and encouraging impact on the wages of immigrants, both men and women, in the country from developing countries. The assessment by Akbari also appraised the fiscal impacts of an earned citizenship provision in legislation and asserted that there is an advantage to American taxpayers through the acquisition of citizenship by immigrants.
According to a research by Manuel Pastor and Justin Scoggins in 2012 both from the University of Southern California that scrutinized individual-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there was a positive attachment on the concept of allowing a path to citizenship to immigrants (Pastor & Scoggins, 2012). In their findings, considering the demographics and other variables that envisage discrete earnings, the researchers estimated premium earnings associated with citizenship of about 8 and 11 %. Additionally, an investigation carried out by economists Robert Lynch of Washington University and Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress in march 2013 indicated new results that acknowledged substantial income achievements from citizenship. In their conclusions, they ascertained the fact that citizenship is significant and it would enhance illegal immigrants’ income by a further 10 percent, thus affecting their lives and the US economy positively (Lynch & Oakford, 2013).
6. Better Employer-Employee Compatibility
Another benefit of allowing a path to citizenship for immigrants is to enhance better employer-employee matching and compatibility. There are specific employment opportunities in different sectors of the United States economy that entail specifically licensed professions and many other positions that are associated with public wellbeing besides other necessitating security authorizations. In these occupations, it is apparent that due citizenship is a requirement, which locks out authorized immigrants with no citizenship. Additionally, the noncitizens are also constricted from working in certain sectors, for instance, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and other state police forces in Georgia, Arizona, and Utah. In the same way, many metropolises, including New York, Atlanta, and Detroit, also have the concept of citizenship necessities for firefighters. Despite the fact that noncitizens can be enrolled in the U.S. Armed Forces, their profession opportunities are restricted until a time when they become full citizens. Having a superior pool of military men and women who are not restricted in their careers and can ascend through the military ranks and render their services in other employment opportunities does not only offer opportunities for young loyal individuals to serve, but also fortifies military enthusiasm. Furthermore, the U.S. citizenship requirement is not limited to the law enforcement or public safety. According to a research conducted on public job publications intended at Ph.D. economists by nonacademic employers, they discovered that more than 40% of employees plainly required the U.S. citizenship (Bratsberg, Ragan & Nasir, 2002).
Moreover, employees who acquire citizenship are more attractive to employment opportunities that necessitate recurrent travel that is frequently easier with a U.S. passport. Having a United States passport simplifies entry into numerous nations across the globe as well as the inspection process for U.S. citizens upon their return, which is more prompt as compared to the non-citizens. On the other hand, permanent United States residents who travel abroad faced the danger of losing their legal position.
It is also obvious to several employees in the United States that the concept of paths to citizenship implies that the individual immigrant candidates are generally assimilated into the community and are devoted to remaining in the U.S. for a longer period of time (Sumption & Flamm, 2012). Moreover, the citizenship is also significant in enhancing the employee –employer relationship since it is an indication of better characteristics, such as good command of English and possession of respectable moral character that are necessities for the path to citizenship. In some instances, many employers in the United States legally base on the concept U.S. citizenship as the foundation for employment. As a result of this and many others reasons, the issue of citizenship among immigrants has been considered a better economic opportunity for them to seek citizenship. Many immigrants attest to the fact that their sought for better employment opportunities is the major reason for pursuing citizenship (Ramirez & Medina, 2010). Therefore, the path to citizenship provides immigrants an opportunity to work in a more flexible environment and employment opportunities in industries and locations that they would not have qualified. This is significant since it allows employees to penetrate into different sectors where their skills are most valuable. Consequently, it provides an effective matching between companies and employees that results in an efficiency output that is beneficial to the whole economy.
7. Investing in Education and Training
Providing a path to earned citizenship is also beneficial because of the significance that results from investing in education and training. Apart from other benefits that accrue from enhanced labor market associated with access to higher-paying jobs, other less tangible advantages are gained from the citizenship concept. As the employees congeal their pledge to the United States through assimilation and assurance of living in the nation permanently, it is apparent that they are likely to obtain surplus skills that are treasured in the U.S. labor market or aimed at making other dynamic new investments (Bratsberg, Ragan & Nasir, 2002). The immigrants who are planning to work and live in the United States deserve a smooth transition to citizenship because their intention in the labor markets on a long-term basis entails a great encouragement.
Furthermore, several studies that have been carried out indicate that citizenship often leads to the attainment of the United States precise human capital that is far from the one connected with the legal status. Since the path to citizenship offers the immigrants concrete assurance of affiliation in the American society, the naturalized employees have a greater inducement to establish long-term investments in United States, particularly the specific human capital like education that leads to an enhanced wage growth. Additionally, this better inevitability can also result in a wide range of new investments that will enhance employees’ productivity and benefit the economy in general. For instance, any immigrant that acquires citizenship can go head and easily obtain tailored education as well as vocational training to enable him/her to open a new business in the United States. This is significant since it promotes deeper investments in the society as well as the labor markets. Nonetheless, this initiative is only possible if the persons are assured of living and staying in the nation for a longer period through an enhanced path to citizenship.
8. Widespread Economical Significance of Giving a Path to Citizenship
Additionally, allowing immigrants a path to citizenship by the American authorities will have far-reaching benefits to the extensive economy. Initially, the concept of citizenship promoted an enhanced economy through identified wage gains. According to an investigation by Pastor-Scoggins and Lynch-Oakford, this fact is still emphasized. A research by Lynch and Oakford (2013) points out that the wage advantages are not relished by the immigrant employees alone. The consequent production and earnings’ advances cut across the economy since immigrants do not only form part of employees but also consumers as well as taxpayers. Therefore, the wages that the immigrants earn from the employment sector in the United States will also be spend on areas like purchasing food, clothing, housing, and cars among other human needs. Consequently, this employee spending will trigger the demand for related goods and services in the economy, which in turn will create employment opportunities and have a significant impact of expanding the economy.
In a research conducted by Pastor and Scoggins (2012) by utilizing data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, it was evident that the concept of allowing a path to citizenship is significant to the economy of the United States. The researchers established that enabling an environment in which the populations of legal immigrants are eligible to becoming citizens would enhance the total income of the United States bay raising it from $9 to $13 billion per year. This is because of higher wages, which is a key advantage of citizenship. Depicting from these outcomes, the researches assert that the strategies intended to enhance a high rate path to citizenship will have significant economic implications to both the immigrants and the entire economy of the United States.
In the research conducted by Lynch and Oakford (2013), it was also determined that a direct wage premium is a consequent of citizenship. According to the research, the examination evaluates the indirect impacts of citizenship by looking at higher labor productivity as well as the indirect outcomes of higher spending in the entire economy, which have a positive implication. In the assessment, the study specifically points out the evaluations of the economic impacts of immigration path to citizenship that have economic benefits. According to the research, it was apparent that despite the fact that the legalization only design will have positive implication to the economy, allowing a path to citizenship would have far-reaching economic benefits to the economy at large. According to the investigation by the two scholars, the economic benefits of citizenship are almost 70% better as compared to the economic benefits of legalization. In a situation where immigrants are granted legal status, the nation will only witness an increase of cumulative GDP by $832 billion, upsurge cumulative personal income by $470 billion thereby resulting in $109 billion in supplementary state and federal taxes that will be remitted by the current immigrant employees. This will lead to approximately 1.2 million new employment opportunities. However, allowing a path to citizenship was estimated to escalate cumulative GDP by $1.4 trillion. In addition, this will also increase cumulative personal income by $791 billion thereby providing for about $184 billion in further state and federal taxes to be remitted to the undocumented immigrants. Subsequently, this will also lead to additional 2 million employment opportunities.
It is therefore apparent that there are several arguments presented for and against allowing for a path to citizenship in the United States as suggested in this discussion. There are several reasons against allowing for path to citizenship as discussed, for instance, its wrong message it sends to the world at large. Dealing with immigrants need to begin from clearing up the mess that has already been created since two wrongs cannot make a right. Nevertheless, allowing immigrants a path to earned citizenship also have significant implications to the nation at large, particularly economically. Allowing for a path to citizenship will enable identify serious individuals who are committed to becoming assimilated in the nation. Furthermore, this process will also enable the hiding undocumented illegal immigrants to come out in the light and seek the legal ways of being assimilated. This process will save the nation from lost taxes that are never reemitted from these populations. When these immigrants are also allowed to go through an earned path to citizenship, they will be determined to fulfill the requirements of paying levies and learning basic language. Despite this action being beneficial at personal levels, the impact will also be felt in the economy. Allowing immigrants an earned path to citizenship also empowers them to take up investment risks in the nation because of assured stay. It also enhances employer- employee relationship. Therefore, allowing for a path to citizenship has several benefits to the American society
Act, I. M. (2013). The Economic Impact of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
Akbari, A. H. (2008). Immigrant naturalization and its impacts on immigrant labor market performance and treasury. The Economics of Citizenship.
Bratsberg, B., Ragan Jr, J. F., & Nasir, Z. M. (2002). The effect of naturalization on wage growth: A panel study of young male immigrants. Journal of Labor Economics, 20(3), 568-597.
Chiswick, B. R. (1978). The effect of Americanization on the earnings of foreign-born men. The Journal of Political Economy, 897-921.
Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. (July 2013). “Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions. Retrieved from http://www.itep.org/pdf/undocumentedtaxes.pdf.
Lynch, R., & Oakford, P. (2013). The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants. Washington: Center for American Progress.
Pastor, M., & Scoggins, J. (2012). Citizen Gain: The Economic Benefits of Naturalization for Immigrants and the Economy. Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, University of Southern California.
Sumption, M., & Flamm, S. (2012). The economic value of citizenship for immigrants in the United States. Migration Policy Institute, Washington, DC.
Should We Give Illegal Immigrants a Path to Citizenship?
Should We Give Illegal Immigrants a Path to Citizenship?