There are many opinions on the debate of illegal immigration. What is your opinion? Read the article and vote on the poll. Sign up for emails so that future articles are delivered right to your inbox.
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. They stepped onto the shores of America for one reason, to make a better life for themselves and their families. During the grueling journey across the Atlantic, lives were lost, and struggle was abundant. Life did not get any easier when they arrived, as brutal winters made caring for the ill and providing food an unprecedented challenge. Slowly, however, through hard work and determination, they began to realize the dream for which they had sacrificed so much. The Pilgrims indeed landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 to create a better life, but they did so without invitation.
The land they invaded was not theirs. A group of humans had already been living on that patch of earth for hundreds of years, and could, by today’s legal standards, claim it as their own. Indeed, America did not belong to the new European settlers. It belonged to the Native Americans. Unfortunately, however, the Native Americans would witness their entire continent become consumed by the glutinous white culture, until life as they knew it was eventually wiped from the earth forever.
The Europeans who settled in America in the 17th century were immigrants. The only thing preventing them from being labeled “illegal” was that there were no man-made laws that governed the borders of America at that time. To be sure, however, the European immigrants were invasive, as they spread rapidly through the ecosystem of America, destroying its biodiversity and all but extinguishing the “native species” of the land. And, in my opinion, it is often much more dangerous to be invasive than it is to be illegal.
Today, immigrants who are considered illegal are strikingly similar to the same folks we celebrate through a national holiday on Thanksgiving Day every year. They come to our shores in search of a better opportunity for themselves and their families. They face grueling journeys across a variety of landscapes, often resulting in death or severe illness. Life is often still difficult when they arrive. They face these extreme obstacles, not to make life for citizens of the United States more difficult, but to make their own lives better. They are in pursuit of the American Dream we so often take for granted in the United States.
No doubt, the same negative comparisons to the early settlers can also be made. They are, in a sense, invasive, in that they are coming from a foreign area, and through the shear factor of added population and the need for resources, are consuming the resources of citizens who are legal. For better or worse, the world we live in has borders, which are governed by laws. The laws of the United States regarding immigration, historically hypocritical as they may be, are laws that are in place to protect its current, legal citizens. Violation of those laws, regardless of how noble or honorable the cause is, is indeed criminal.
While there are a great deal of ideas for how we should deal with the problem of illegal immigration, the purpose of this article is not to address all of the potential solutions. The purpose of this article is to present to you the two perspectives that support the two main philosophies on the topic of illegal immigration. These two beliefs are briefly summarized below.
Illegal immigrants are actually good for the United States.
Because illegal immigrants work illegally, they are not protected by laws that govern the workplace, such as minimum wage laws. Still, they accept hard labor jobs for low costs, allowing companies to keep their overhead costs low and their product affordable to the American public. Without illegal immigrants working these jobs, the jobs would require companies to pay legal employees more money, leading to a higher overhead, and, therefore, a higher product cost for consumers. Therefore, because illegal immigrants work low wage, high labor jobs, we are able to buy products, especially food, at more affordable prices.
In addition to this, illegal immigrants pay taxes. According to immigrationpolicy.org, “a range of studies find that immigrants pay between $90 and $140 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes”. Further, despite paying into social security, Illegal Immigrants do not enjoy the luxury of withdrawing from social security if and when they retire. Therefore, illegal immigrants are increasing our tax revenue without realizing as many benefits as the legal tax payers.
When these two factors are considered, along with the fact the a mass deportation of illegal immigrants currently living in this country would be logistically impossible, it is understandable that a person might hold the philosophy that, while illegal immigration is, in fact, ILLEGAL, it is justifiable to turn a proverbial blind eye to the problem because the benefits actually outweigh the consequences.
Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL. Therefore, anyone who supports it essentially supports criminal activity. Further, illegal immigrants take jobs away from Americans.
Foremost, I believe, is that from a philosophical stance, it would hypocritical to label an activity illegal, and “allow” it occur simply because it is largely beneficial. It would be like allowing illegal drugs to exist, regardless of the negative effects they have on individuals, simply because there is an economic and/or political benefit (of course, some would argue this already occurs). If an action has been determined by the lawmakers of the land to be illegal, then it needs to be enforced by the law enforcers. The United States has set a legal course of action for individuals to come to the land. If an individual crosses the borders of the United States without adhering to those laws, then they are not welcome to the protection of the law, nor the land the law protects, nor any benefit entitled to those individuals who do come to this country by the procedures outlined by law.
In addition to the philosophical argument against illegal immigration, there is the argument that illegal immigrants cost the taxpayers of the United States billions of dollars. According to the Center for Immigration Studies,
We have previously estimated that taxpayers spend $4.3 billion a year providing healthcare to uninsured illegal immigrants.
Therefore, forget the fact that illegal immigrants work for less, ultimately resulting in lower cost of product for us at the stores, it costs us way too much money out of our own pockets to permit them to reside in our country.
Finally, there is the obvious argument that illegal immigrants take the jobs of could-be employed, legal citizens. It must be acknowledged, while considering this argument, that typically they are working long hour jobs that require a high level of physical activity. These are jobs that even Americans who are often desperate for work refuse to consider working themselves. Nevertheless, they are jobs, and they are being consumed by individuals who are not residing in this country legally.
On a final note, I think this world operates without a great deal of genuine consideration for their own beliefs and empathy for the feelings of others. The topic of illegal immigration requires a great deal of personal reflection and genuine empathy for other people to really understand the other side. Illegal immigrants really need to consider how their actions negatively influence the lives of the people whose country they are invading. On the other hand, citizens of countries like the United States do need to consider that most illegal immigrants are coming to this great country for the same reason their ancestors did, to make a better life for themselves and their family. Further, carelessly and thoughtlessly insulting another group of people, as Donald Trump irresponsibly did when he referred to Mexicans as “rapists” only drives an angry wedge between people in this world, and God knows we have enough hate in this world already. We will only be able to make real progress on sensitive issues when we consider how our actions and words affect our neighbors in the world, no matter what side of what issue we are on. Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” We know illegal immigration is a problem. Are we making the right efforts, however, to understand it?
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