Illegal immigration is a crime highly condemned by every government in the world today. Despite the policies and laws put in place to curb illegal immigration, cases of illegal immigration are still experienced in almost all countries in the world. Even in the most restricted areas like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, there are still cases of illegal immigration. The American government estimates that there are above 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. This is a big challenge to the US policymakers because they have to review the immigration laws to reduce the rate of illegal immigration. Vanessa (29) defined illegal immigration as the act of people moving to another country without official permit, thus violating the laws guiding immigration to that country.
According to the United States immigration laws, a person can become an illegal immigrant if they reside and work in the US without a legal permit; if their visa expires while still resident of the US and fail to do apply or notifying immigration authorities in good time; or if someone acquires a visa to the US through fraudulent means. Most illegal immigrants find their ways in America through visa fraud. Illegal immigrants risk six months incarceration with additional civil fines when proven guilty (Flores 88).
Every country has guidelines on visa application procedures that have to be adhered to. The United States is not an exception to this. They have put in place stringent visa application procedures aimed at curbing cases of illegal immigrants. Despite all these efforts illegal immigration across her borders has persisted. But how do these illegal immigrants find their way to US land? How do they affect their destination country? Are they of any benefit?
The objective of this paper is to find out how people move to United States illegally. The paper will also seek to address the economic issues resulting from illegal immigration and the positive and negative effects of illegal immigration. It will also explain the policies and laws regarding illegal immigration.
Where do illegal immigrants come from?
The United States has immigrants from almost all parts of the world. The source of these illegal immigrants can be traced from the means that they use to enter the United States. There are many ways through which illegal immigrants enter the US. For instance, fake marriages have played a big role in bringing illegal immigrants to the United States. These fake marriages take different forms. For example, some are arranged by immigrants and US citizens. In this case, the immigrant alleges to have gotten married to the US citizen and therefore moves to the United States and settles there together with the spouse (Vanessa 37). The immigrants in the marriage context will live in US under the pretence that he or she is married there.
Some trick the US nationals and make them believe in untrue marriage. In so doing, they accomplish their mission of entering the US illegally but through that marriage trap. On the other hand, there are also US nationals who participate in a paper marriage for money.
There are also other arrangements where the US citizen helps an alien to enter the US and is paid for that assistance. The assistance may be on how to get an illegal or fake US visa and move to America. An estimated 400 000 US citizens are reported to marry foreigners and aid them in petitioning for permanent residence as spouses are recognized by law as one immediate relatives. Some citizens also get temporary visas for their fiancés before they set foot on American soil so that when they come marriage is organized. This is a very tricky arrangement because the citizen understands his country well and knows the ways of sneaking an alien to the US (Magana 27).
Certain US companies engage the services of illegal immigrants because they are cheaper to higher. Moreover, the penalties that such activities attract are minimal. Wall Mart was only fined $11 million for employing illegal immigrants against its profit margin of $285 billion in 2005.
From the year 2000 the number of illegal immigrants increased by 23 per cent. When Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was enacted, the Mexicans who worked in American companies crossed the borders into America in search of any job available. Such regulation made the Clinton Administration collect $ 3.68 billion from 890 companies engaging in that malpractice compared to Bushes $ 188 500 from 64 companies employing undocumented workers. The current policy on immigration states that the company is also subject to punishment due to illegally bringing people into the country.
The US government delay in processing work permits and visas also causes many people to look for illegal ways of entering the country (Laham 45). The government should facilitate visa and work permit processing to reduce the number of people looking for illegal ways of entering US. Others move to US through their relatives who already live there. They visit their relatives but they overstay. US immigration policy allows an alien who legally lives there to be visited by some relatives, but they must also follow the right procedure and not overstay. They must visit only within the stipulated time in the visa. When they overstay, they automatically become illegal immigrants.
Most of the people move to US in search of opportunities. The lack of opportunities in their mother country causes them to look for every way possible to enter US, which is a land of great opportunity. Because of these restrictions, and the delay of the US government to give people visas and work permits, people look for illegal means of entering the country, thereby becoming illegal immigrants (Martin 65).
Positive implications of immigration
Despite the criticism on illegal immigration, the illegal immigrants also bring advantages to the destination country. For instance in the US, the immigrants are advantageous in several ways. To start with, the US enjoys high supply of unskilled labor from immigrants. The immigrants move to US in search of employment. They are willing to take up jobs at lower wages than the natives would. The employers take advantage of this cheap labor and they save a lot through it.
This was witnessed with the Wall Mart profit margin in the year 2005 where they raked a massive $285 billion in annual sales by employing illegal immigrants. The immigrants are also very devoted in their job as they fear losing it (Laham 51). They also boost agricultural production through working in farms for relatively low wages. This also keeps the price of agricultural products and other foodstuffs low (Magana 34).
The immigrants also contribute a lot to the government revenue through payment of taxes. The immigrants make a lot of money and they proportionately pay taxes to the government. In 2005 undocumented workers contributed $ 7 billion to social security kitty. In the year 2008, it was estimated that illegal immigrants contributed about $9 billion per year (The Associated Press 2). Although many illegal immigrants pay payroll taxes such as FICA and Medicare using either an invalid Social Security number or a Tax Identification Number, they never collect the social security benefits because the Social Security Administration requires individual to be a US citizen or permanent resident card holder.
It is however ridiculous that the social security administration uses such moneys in their projections. But at least this is an advantage to them. This boosts economic growth and development because the government will have a lot of money to finance public projects and provide other social and public goods. In the year 2006 alone illegal immigrants contributed a massive $ 428 billion to America’s $813.6 trillion gross domestic product (AP 2).
The immigrants also boost the US domestic industries/companies. The immigrants are also consumers of the products produced in the US. Illegal immigrants are likely purchase essential products such as food, clothing and also are likely to purchase real estate.
About 2.4 million illegal team up to buy foreclosed homes in the US. By purchasing products and real estate, they are helping economy by contributing in paying sale taxes and real estate taxes as well as helping real estate agents, generating commissions from the real estate deals. This means that with the immigrants in the US, the domestic companies make more sales than they would with the natives. This increases the revenue made by the local companies (Rajeev 69). These companies are also able to expand because they have funds to do so. They also pay more corporate tax to the government than they would with the natives only as customers. This adds to the already growing economy.
The immigrants also enable some local companies to be recognized internationally without costing anything. This is because the immigrants will buy their products and send them to their relatives in their mother countries. Shoes that are manufactured by Mexican migrant workers in California are normally exported to Mexico. This helps advertise the companies’ products internationally. This develops a soft spot in the international market that these local companies can use to enter the international market. These companies can even start operations in these foreign countries with ease because their products are already known.
The professional immigrants who have skills in various disciplines are employed in important sectors like hospitals and accounting firms. Children to some of the immigrants who got here illegally have been educated to become doctors. This is advantageous to the economy because the expertise of these professionals is exploited within the economy. Most of these professionals move to the US because of lack of jobs in their mother country. They are therefore willing to devote their expertise in a country where they are valued and paid for the service they provide.
Sportsmen who get scholarship in the US colleges and would wish to live and work in America after their visa expiry acquire the status of illegal immigrants before their papers are processed by immigration officials. These athletes (Gordon 43) are important to the US economy as they help in generation of revenue.
Some of the immigrants are innovative and have good business acumen but lack an environment within which to apply them (Gordon 34). This contributes to the growth of small and medium size enterprises which also contribute greatly to the growth of the economy.
Disadvantages of illegal immigration
Despite the many advantages of illegal immigration, the economy also feels the pinch in some areas by having illegal immigrants in the country. For instance, there is a lot of cash drained from the US economy through illegal immigrants. These immigrants do not invest in the US because they are not legally accepted in the country. They therefore send back their wealth to their mother country thus draining a lot of money from the US economy.
This also hits the economic growth because the money earned by these illegal immigrants is not spent in the US. Illegal aliens in the US earn $ 60 billion annually. Mexico revenue earnings come from remittances made by both the illegal and illegal immigrants in the US. California alone spends $ 9.6 in remittances to Mexico followed by New York’s $ 3.6 billion, Texas $3.2 and Florida’s $ 2.5 billion. 26 per cent of these monies come from illegal immigrants (News Batch 15). It therefore develops other countries at the expense of the US economy.
The illegal immigrants may also slow down the growth of the GDP per capita. This is because the jobs that they take are of lower value than for the native average workers (News Batch 15). This means lower GDP than if those jobs were taken by the natives because they will demand more pay than what the immigrants are paid.
The influx of illegal immigrants exceeds the number of jobs available in the US economy. The illegal immigrants take up jobs that the pool of American unskilled laborers can do thereby denying them job opportunities. Because of difficulties in getting work permits illegal immigrants tend to engage in criminal activities to enable them get basic life requirements (The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration Para. 4).
It has also been argued that sexual crimes have increased with the increase in the number of illegal immigrants. Most of the sexual crime cases are committed by the illegal immigrants. Of the child molestation cases reported, Hispanics took part in 47 per cent of them. Illegal aliens took part in 130, 909 sex crimes that were reported (Usillegalaliens 6). This causes great threat to women and children in the economy. These further increases the cost the government is incurring in preventing further occurrence of sexual crimes. The productivity of women in the economy is also affected because they are always under fear of being sexually defiled.
They work for short working hours for fear of leaving for home late and being attacked on the way. In Los Angeles alone, 95 per cent of the 1500 warrants of arrests issued for perpetrators of homicide are for illegal immigrants. 25 per cent of the federal jails are made up of illegal aliens servicing sentences for having committed felony, burglary or thefts. Furthermore, it is also argued that majority of illegal immigrants are involved in criminal activities.
According to Usillegalaliens article, in recent Testimony of District Attorney John M. Morganelli before the House Subcommittee on immigration, Border, Security and Claims he stated, “Unfortunately, the majority of illegal aliens who are here are engaged in criminal activity. Identity theft, use of fraudulent social security numbers and green cards, tax evasion, driving without licenses represent some of the crimes that are engaged in by the majority of illegal aliens daily merely to maintain and hide their illegal status.”
Some illegal immigrants are tax evaders. This makes the government lose revenue. Since these illegal immigrants are not legally allowed to live in the US, the government does not have their details regarding where they work or live (Camarota 54). These details would help the country collect the taxes from them but because they do not declare their whereabouts and what they do for fear that they will be apprehended, it becomes hard for the government to tax them. The government collects less money in terms of taxes than it would. As a result the government budget is less than it would. The government also spends a lot of money on these illegal immigrants. For example, in Florida alone in 2008, illegal immigrants cost the state about $3.8 billions (Federation for American Immigration 3).
This year, 2010, being a census year, many local representatives encourage illegal immigrants to participate in US census; however, these immigrants are afraid of getting trapped. Government agencies responsible for planning for schools end up with wrong estimates because of underestimation of number of people who are supposed to use these services. This is contributed by failure by illegal aliens to participate in census. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing an individual’s data with other government’s agencies; even still, these individual especially illegal immigrant questions how data will be used.
There has been congestion in these facilities and the US citizens have been receiving poor services due to the inefficiencies caused by the illegal immigrants. Even where the costs of these infrastructures are subsidized for the US nationals, the illegal immigrants access them illegally at the expense of the US nationals. The government will expand these facilities thinking that they are not enough for serve its citizen which is not the case. This will make the government unnecessary spending. The money spent on these projects could have been used to finance other more profitable government projects.
Traffic accidents have also increased with the increase in illegal immigration to the US. State police records reports on auto accidents between 2002 and 2004 show that 128 0f the 395 arrested on DUI charges were Hispanics. Humbert Hernandez-Soto killed a university student Min Soon Chang. It was later realized that he had previously been deported to Mexico. This is because the illegal immigrants do not have experience in driving in US. They are also not conversant with the US road signs. This has caused a lot of accidents to happen on the roads and some claim the lives of innocent people. This is costing the government a lot more in deploying more traffic officers on the roads to control traffic and try to mitigate the road accidents.
The cases of terrorism are also thought to have increased with increase in illegal immigrants. Three of the pilots who executed September eleventh attack in the US were in America illegally. The illegal immigrants are used to organize terrorism attacks that have claimed many lives. The government is spending a lot of money in fighting terrorism. The illegal immigrants are used by the terrorists to assist them in attacking certain parts of the country. These terrorism attacks have threatened the US security. People are living in fear of being attacked.
According to Camarota (56), US politics has also been influenced by illegal immigrants. The politicians use illegal immigrants to win their way to the congress. It said that Bush won the Hispanic votes because of moderate stance he had on illegal immigrants of Hispanic origin. In the recent elections carried out in US, it has been argued that many illegal immigrants have been used and have voted illegally. This is doing injustice to the US citizens because their choice of president and other government officials has been compromised. These dirty politics have denied them leaders of their choice and given them leaders illegally elected. This affects people and makes them lose confidence in the government in power and do not give the government the support it expects from them. The government therefore experiences problems in serving its people.
The illegal immigrants have denied the legal immigrants their legal opportunities. The legal immigrants have opportunities and are paid well like the natives in the US. The illegal immigrants accept the same opportunities for lower wage than what it should be.
Illegal substances have also found their way in to the United States through illegal immigrants. The illegal immigrants are likely to be used to bring illegal substances in to the country like the spate of drug trafficking that comes from Mexico to the United States. The presence of these illegal substances in the economy means that there is money laundering. That is there will be money that is illegally acquired. The government is trying its best to avoid smuggling of illegal drugs although the illegal immigrants are increasing the chances of illegal substances.
According to Magana (32), illegal immigrants transfer diseases from their country to the US. Michael Worobey, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at The University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues investigated how the HIV got to the US. Their study titled “The emergence of HIV/AIDS in the Americas and beyond,” shows that the virus HIV that caused the epidemic of AIDS in The United States came from Haiti in or around 1969, which is lot earlier of what was thought until today. Although the person was not an illegal immigrant, the illegal immigrants can as well transfer diseases from their mother country to the US.
This was witnessed when Swine flu spread from Mexico to the US. This is very dangerous because it causes the government to spend a lot of money in treating diseases that would otherwise not have been there. Care should be taken to ensure that any person migrating to US is medically fit and does not have any transferable disease. This will help in reducing the causes of diseases spreading to US from other countries.
Although we count the benefits that illegal immigration has to the economy of the United States, the cost that the US government pays in providing the resources that these immigrants use is much higher. For instance, the government uses a lot of money in providing resources like schools and hospital facilities.
Arguably, there is also the danger of distributing the US wealth to people who do not have right to it. This is because the illegal immigrants acquire a lot of that would otherwise be for the US natives. Consequently, the some states with high concentration of illegal immigrants would experience greater constraint on allocated resources. This is primarily motivated by the fact the number of illegal immigrants remains unaccounted for by the federal government (Rajeev 64). The local citizens have made major contributions to the development of the country, thus making it a “land of great opportunities”. Therefore, illegal immigrants may appear as robbers; people who use unfair means to reap where they did not sow.
The other negative impact of illegal immigration is high cost of deportation. The government of the United States incurs many expenses when deporting illegal aliens back to their country. This includes some $1 million non-refundable to the US government and additional costs on essential items issued to deportees on arrival to their home countries. This also affects the economy of the United States because this money drains the treasury. The government is forced to budget of things that are not profitable at all. Although we can argue that it is cheaper to deport the illegal immigrants than be with them in the country because they will cause more harm to the economy (Vanessa 35).
Maintaining illegal immigrants as criminals in jail is very costly for the nation. Feeding them, paying attendants and prison maintenance costs are very high. The US government feels the pinch. It is costly looking for the illegal aliens, arrest them jail them and maintain them in jail. But however costly it is, criminals have to be arrested and punished as appropriate. The huge costs of punishing these criminals cannot be compared with the damage that they can cause if they are set free (Becker &Becker 45).
The government of the United States also incurs the cost of ensuring the welfare of the illegal immigrants. In a study conducted by Flores (88) It is estimated that over 11billion dollars are spent yearly in maintaining the welfare of the illegal immigrants as put by department of immigration.. Like any other person, the illegal aliens have the right to be treated well. The government is counting losses that have been incurred in ensuring the welfare of the illegal aliens.
The issues surrounding the education of illegal immigrant children are social, political, moral, and economic. The education given to the illegal immigrants is also very expensive. About 12 billion dollars are incurred in providing education to these children of the aliens (Becker, Cynthia, and Becker 25). It is ironic that even after all this money spent on education, these children cannot speak English fluently.
As per National Center for Educational Statistics, in 2006 there were 53.4 million children in the United States and 10.8 million spoke a language other than English at home. Most illegal aliens are working in lower paying jobs and often sharing houses and apartments with other families. Most of them pay little or no state or federal income taxes and, because they have low incomes and frugal lifestyles, they pay little sales taxes as well. The local and state taxes illegal aliens pay, come nowhere near paying for the education costs of their children. The difference is picked up by the taxpaying public.
According to Federation for American Immigration, the cost of providing medical care to the illegal immigrants is also very high about 2.5 billion dollars per year. Ensuring that there are hospitals where these aliens can go for medication is the responsibility of the government (Martin 53). The government also has natives who also need medical care. In addition to Medicaid costs, other costs such as treatment for the uninsured is 2.2 billion; food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches is 1.9 billion; the federal prison and court systems is 1.6 billion, and federal aid to schools is 1.4 billion (Martin 54). The cost the government pays is very high.
All these costs; welfare costs, medical costs and education cost the government is paying is not refundable and is drawn from the treasury. This drains the treasury and the government is left with relatively a small for other development projects. The aliens do not contribute to the country a value that can be compared to what the government is spending on their head. These costs are great loss to the government and can only be recovered if the aliens are deported to their mother country. In so doing, the country is spared these huge annual expenses (Bourne Para. 5).
The increased presence of illegal immigrants, especially in the low-wage sector, seems to have a downward impact on wages and employment of native workers in that sector. George Borjas of Harvard University, one of the foremost economists on the effects of immigration, concluded that the influx of immigrants from 1980 to 2000 had pushed down wages for native-born workers by an average of 3.7 percent or $1600 a year. (Greenhouse 228) According to Borjas, the wave of immigrants reduced the wages of native-born Hispanics by 5 percent, African Americans by 4.5 percent, whites by 3.5 percent, and Asian by 3.1 percent (Greenhouse 228). These studies suggest that presence of additional workers available who are willing to take the jobs for reduced wage have caused wages to fall.
Illegal immigration is therefore advantageous and disadvantageous to the economy of the United States. The government needs to enforce the law and policies that exist to stop illegal immigration because the benefits they give to the country are cancelled by the high cost of maintaining them (Calavita 45). The government should come up with more strict laws that will minimize entry of illegal immigrants in the country. On the other hand, focus of the most affected states such as California and Arizona should be on deporting illegal immigrants found in their territory. already existing illegal immigrants should be deported to their mother country so that they do not continue affecting the economy.
If all of them are deported, the government will be able concentrate on more productive development instead of spending all the time solving the problems caused by these illegal immigrants (Calavita 45). While deporting majority of the illegal immigrants may provide the ideal scenario for handling the problems posed by illegal immigrants, both federal and state governments have to embark on more expansion programs in the economy since this will create flexible conditions of dealing with the issue.
Economic Issues of Illegal Immigration
There are several economic issues of illegal immigration. Although most of these issues have been discussed above, it is important to point out what in reality illegal immigration does to the US economy.
Firstly, the US natives lose their wages to the illegal immigrants. Statistics has it that above 40% of US low skilled natives who lose their jobs is because of illegal immigrants who take up those jobs at much lower wage (Card 43). The number is about 1.88 million natives who lose their jobs each year. To ensure the welfare of these natives, the government spends about 15 billion dollars (Card 43).
The economy also suffers cash drain. The illegal immigrants repatriating their wealth to their mother country is a cash drain to the US economy. The economy loses a lot of money in this manner. Bulk of Mexico’s revenue comes from money repatriated from US by legal and illegal immigrants.
There is increased deployment of security officers at the American borders to mitigate the causes of illegal immigration. This is also a big drain of money from the economy.
Cases of terrorism have also increased thus costing the country a lot of money to fight it. There is also increase in theft, sexual crimes, crimes et cetera. The government budget is greatly affected by these disasters. Every year, the government is spending a lot of money in solving the problems caused by illegal immigrants. There is an argument whether these illegal immigrants should be given amnesty or not. The fact remains that granting them amnesty is encouraging more to come to the US.
This has made the government concentrate on fighting against terrorism, crimes and other danger caused by illegal immigration. This is at the expense of economic growth and development.
United States Laws and Policies Regarding Legal and Illegal Immigration
The United States has set laws and policies regarding illegal immigration. The US immigration laws provide two ways that one may live and work in US. One may choose to become a permanent US resident. This has to be legalized. The US government is also issuing a temporary work visa to persons who wish to live and work in the US on temporary basis (Rajeev 76). The third method may be through illegal immigration where one may live in the US but without authorization.
There are various laws and policies already passed about how an illegal alien should be dealt with. These policies and laws are explained below.
Firstly, there are laws concerning the documents required for immigration. The laws and policies of both federal government and states prohibit entry of foreigners into the country with fake documents. The US government shall not tolerate any forged document for matters of immigration or otherwise. Forgery is illegal and the perpetrators shall face the full force of the law. The genuine documents must be produced before any person enters US. This policy will help mitigate the causes of illegal immigration because no person shall be allowed to enter US until they produce the genuine documents (Gordon 54). Forgery of documents attracts a fine of over 250 dollars to a maximum of 2000 dollars for every forged document. Repeated cases will attract a fine of over 2000 dollars to a maximum of 5000 dollars for every forged document (Gordon 54).
Since the US natives sometimes assist the illegal immigrants to enter and settle in the US, the government has come up with the law to curb this. The law states that no person is authorized to grant assistant of any form to an illegal alien in the US. It is against the law to assist an illegal alien entering US. Any violation regarding this law results in a penalty and/or 10 years imprisonment. This is to discourage the natives from being involved in illegal immigration. This law best discipline the natives who conspire with aliens to produce fake documents and have them enter the United States (Rajeev 67).
An illegal immigrant once deported to their mother country shall not be let again to the US. This will help keep law breakers away from the US. Great care must be taken to ensure that the deported person does not sneak in to the US through any mean. Illegal immigrants will always look for ways to get back to the United States (Laham 4).
An illegal immigrant should never be found with a fire arms or ammunition. Since the immigrant is not a citizen, he/she should never be in possession of fire arm or ammunition. This is punishable by law.
Before entering US or on arriving at the ports, every alien regardless of type of visas, they all must be tested whether they have any disease or whether they are mentally fit. This is to ensure that no diseases are brought to the US by the aliens. As discussed earlier, the immigrants are likely to transfer diseases from their mother country to the US or any other country of destination. The examination made before entering the border will help to curb the spread of diseases. Governments spend a lot of money in treating people of diseases that are brought in by the aliens (Card 34). As mentioned earlier, AIDS was introduced to US by a Haiti immigrant. There is therefore great danger in letting people in to the country before they are tested for any infections. This will ensure that the spread of diseases is curtailed.
In as much as circumstances may force illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, they must know the history of the United States. One must understand the history of the US so that they can understand where the country has come from and where it is heading. This will help somebody to know how to behave while in the US land. History will enable somebody know the culture of people in the US, their likes and dislikes. This will help somebody to live in harmony with the Americans and interact well with them.
According to Card (42), an immigrant to the US must also know the laws and the principles that apply in the country. This will help the immigrants not to break the laws unknowingly. Law helps one to know how to conduct himself in a country. Laws define the expected code of conduct of the citizens of that country. It also explains the do and doesn’t in a certain country. Therefore a person must be conversant with the law of the land that applies in the US for him to migrate there.
Illegal immigrants are liabilities to a country and should be eliminated at all costs. American people need to wake up and realize little by little our nation is disappearing. Despite the many advantages, the fact remains that they cannot be contained in the United States. Many have argued about legalizing illegal, but legalizing illegal will not solve any issues rather invites many more illegal immigrants to enter in United States by any means.
The government should enforce the immigration laws to completely stop illegal immigration. The US should also deport the apprehended illegal aliens to their country. The economic issues caused by the illegal immigration must be addressed so that they do not affect the economic performance of the United States. The immigration policies should be reviewed to make them more effective.
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