Immigration is the process of people moving from their native country to another country for the purpose of establishing residence in that other country. There are two different types of immigration: legal immigration; and illegal immigration. This paper will discuss the process of legally immigrating to the United States; and the process of people immigrating to the United States illegally. The research will provide data to support that legal immigration is an accepted form of moving to the United States from another country. Evidence will also be presented to show that illegal immigration is an unacceptable means of moving to the United States and that this type of immigration creates economic problems and increases crime in the United States. Based on the research, recommendations will be outlined regarding potential solutions to illegal immigration.
The United States has many laws that govern who can immigrate here. Immigration laws are in place to organize and keep legal entry, how long the stay can be, and laws are in place to also regulate the removal of non US citizens. Immigration laws in the United States have been restrictive or expansive for different countries and at different times. Immigration laws are in place to allow a small percentage of people to be able to immigrate to the United States legally ("Energy of a," 2014).
- For freedom and safety
There are also many different types of non US citizens that are allowed to live in the United States legally. This class of people includes legal non-residents, students and people that may be here on a temporary visitation basis. Annually, about one million people immigrate to the Unites States legally. Strict immigration categories prohibit most people from all over the world from establishing permanent legal status ("Energy of a," 2014).
The woman’s name is “Hoda” and she told me how arduous it was for her parents to apply for a visa. Hoda said that her mother had a first cousin who lived in New York City and that this cousin needed to “sponsor” her family and file paperwork stating that if her family was not able to earn a living on their own after their immigration to the United States that the cousin would need to support them. Without this critical step, she said, there would be no way to move the application for immigration forward. After the cousin’s sponsorship was approved, which took almost two years to accomplish, next her parents had to apply for temporary visitation with intent to permanently reside in the United States. She remembered that they had to pull together reference letters from employers, family members and any friends that had clout or authority in their home country. They also needed to collect college transcripts and verification of income. This process took another six months to get approved.
Once all of the paperwork was approved, Hoda said that her family received their “green cards” in the mail. Green cards are the name for an Alien Registration Card. They were given the name “green card” because they are green in color. Alien Registration Cards signify permanent resident status for an alien ("Green card," 2014).
Hoda said they would be able to use these “green cards” to gain entry into the United States and to gain employment and register the children in school. A process that began late in 1966 finally culminated in her family’s ability to immigrate to the United States in July of 1969.
Hoda’s interview confirmed that legal immigration is not a quick process, nor is it a simple one. To immigrate to the United States legally, the person or people seeking this transition to the United States must have time, money and a family member that is willing to support them in the event that the move to the United States turns out to be disastrous. The good news is, in Hoda’s case, her parents had strong letters of recommendations, excellent references and marketable skills and they both were retained by large, stable companies. Meaning, within the first three months of moving to the United States, Hoda’s parents began paying income taxes, and their fair share into Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and other fees imposed on documented immigrants that are in the United States legally.
Hoda’s story is a good story about immigration. It shows that when executed properly that people from other nations can come to the United States and contribute well to its economy and pay their taxes. More importantly, because her parents had specialized skills, they brought talent from abroad that advantaged American companies. This story represents a true win-win for the country and for the family.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Not everyone that immigrates here has the time, money, sponsoring family member, or evidently, ethics to follow the correct process.
According to The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers more than $100 billion each year (Fahmy, 2010). The $100 billion dollar figure was estimated based on the cost of healthcare and public schools for illegal immigrants, as well as the cost of their incarceration. These are costs that can be measured – but other costs, such as wages earned without paying taxes, and contributing to the so called “underground economy” are difficult to measure. Either way, illegal immigrants are not contributing in any meaningful way to the American economy, and in fact, are taking jobs away from capable, unemployed American citizens who demand higher wages, but also pay their fair share of taxes and other fees which are imposed on their income.
It is ultimately the states that end up with the huge burden of this hefty cost. Arizona is one such state that has been fighting hard to enact much stricter Immigration laws to fight the problem of the number of illegal immigrants that come to Arizona, gain employment and never pay any taxes. In 2010, Arizona passed a law that gave Police the authority to stop and arrest anyone that they felt had entered the country illegally. The law also made all people living in the state of Arizona that had come there in an undocumented way, now criminals, and sought their swift deportation (Goldman, 2010).
Some states have a bigger problem than others, as this map of the United States shows ("Illegal immigration," 2014).
Homeland Security has stepped up its actions to deport illegal aliens. In the graph below, it is clear that the business of deporting illegal immigrants is on the rise. What is confounding in this research is that the graph is labeled as the deportation of “criminals”. Per the legislature passed by Arizona, for example, an illegal alien is considered a criminal! Therefore, the deportations described here are not necessarily those illegal immigrants that have committed crimes, per se, but are considered criminals as a result of their presence illegally in the United States ("http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/11/obama-under-fire-from-the-left-over-deportations/ ," 2014).
The conclusion that Homeland Security and our government has made is that all illegal aliens are criminals. Criminals are costly because they require incarceration, and they may need healthcare. Both contribute to a huge cost that our country needs to absorb.
Criminal aliens, or those immigrants that are here illegally are a growing threat to public safety and national security. The criminals are also a big drain on the criminal justice system, which is already woefully under-resourced. Back in 1980, federal and state prisons had less than 9,000 criminal aliens incarcerated. By 2012, this number has ballooned to about 55,000 criminal aliens in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities. There are also an additional 297,000 criminal aliens incarcerated in state and local prisons. This is a growing problem in the United States ("Criminal aliens," 2012).
The illegal alien problem is growing, it’s expensive, and it poses a threat to our safety and national security. This subject has been hotly debated by the government, and although it has been the subject of many debates, other than the rise in the number of deportations under President Obama’s watch, not much has been done on the national level. States have taken matters into their own hands. California for example, has implemented check points that are staffed by Border Patrol Officers where every vehicle is stopped, a subjective call is made on the part of the Border Patrol Officer and then the car is allowed to proceed ("I-5 border patrol," 2014).
Illegal immigration is a big problem for the United States, and one that is not going away. As long as people living in other countries believe that they will be successful at getting into the United States illegally and will flourish as a result of this migration, it will be difficult to make this problem smaller. Therefore, actions must be taken to reinforce that gaining illegal access to the United States is against the law, is considered criminal and leads to incarceration, and ultimately deportation. It’s not clear that we have done enough to promote this change of mindset. One of the recommendations based on this research is to launch a Public Service campaign aimed at getting this very message out. A campaign as ugly and effective as the ones that the American Cancer Society launched to inform smokers about the harmful effects of continuing to smoke. A probable outcome of this type of campaign would be for relatives to view this advertisement, and tell their relatives that had intended to get into the United States illegally to stay away.
Another recommendation based on the research is to get national and local immigration authorities to work more closely together to find and deport illegal aliens. It is not clear that any type of organized effort is occurring here. It seems ad hoc and requires rigor and discipline.
Energy of a nation: Immigration resources. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.energyofanation.org/Who_Can_Immigrate_to_the_U_S_Fact_Sheet.h tml
Green card. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/greencard
Fahmy, D. (2010, May 21). Expensive aliens: How much do illegal immigrants really cost?. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/illegal-immigrants-cost- us-100-billion-year-group/story?id=10699317
Goldman, R. (2010, March 26). Arizona law promises to be 'toughest' on illegal immigration. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/arizona-state-law- promises-toughest-illegal-immigration/story?id=10212698
Illegal immigration. (2014). Retrieved from http://banaszak.weebly.com/illegal- immigration.html
http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/11/obama-under-fire-from-the-left-over-deportations/. (2014, February 11). Retrieved from http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/11/obama- under-fire-from-the-left-over-deportations/
Criminal aliens. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.fairus.org/issue/criminal-aliens
I-5 border patrol checkpoint. (2014). Retrieved from https://foursquare.com/v/i5-border- patrol-checkpoint--weigh-station/4b626fc9f964a52093472ae3