As a common knowledge, illegal immigration is the act of living permanently across national borders, violating the immigration laws of the host country. However, in politics, illegal immigration may be denote considerable social issues pertaining to health care, crime, voting rights, human rights, social welfare, slavery, prostitution, education, legal protections, and even problems in the economy.
There are several reasons for illegal immigration. One is due to war in the country of origin. Individuals tend to immigrate illegally to another country to escape dictatorship or conquest by another country causing the war. Second is due to family reunification. Individuals tend to live with loved ones, who are in another country, thus, they turn to illegal immigration as a means of reunification. Third is due to poverty in the country of origin. In the United States, illegal immigrants seek higher wages to escape poverty. Finally, population growth also causes illegal immigration if it exceeds the carrying capacity of one country. If the country of origin is affected by overpopulation and causes poverty, increased crime rate, and pollution among others, individuals of such country tend to immigrate illegally to another country with less population or one that may provide them sufficiently with their basic needs.
In the United States, endless debates over immigration policies continue to transpire. The U.S. Congress consistently pursues legislation in controlling the flow of illegal immigrants. More laws are being implemented as the rate of illegal immigration rises. It is estimated that illegal immigrants in the United States are nearly 12 million. Most of these illegal immigrants are said to be low-skilled, which naturally means they content themselves with low-waged jobs in constructions, hospitals, and manufacturing industry.
People who are for and against illegal immigration both foresee dramatic changes in the United States if illegal immigration is diminished. Those who are against illegal immigration claim that the country will benefit from curtailing illegal immigration since employers will be forced to increase wages in order to motivate or arouse the interests of American workers. On the other hand, those who are in favor of illegal immigration claim that curtailing illegal immigrants will only cause growth impediment to the U.S. economy since illegal immigrants do large numbers of jobs that Americans do.
In this light, it is apt to say that illegal immigration both has its positive and negative effects on different parts of the United States economy. Although the wages of low-skilled workers go down, it does not necessarily mean that all Americans would benefit by paying lower prices for construction, agricultural products, hospitalization, and others. It is a fact that illegal immigration may yield positive effects on some parts of the United States and negative effects for the rest of the country.
Advocates of illegal immigration in the United States determine that cheaper labor is obtained by business because of illegal immigration. Businesses benefit from illegal immigration by choosing not to pay minimum wages for illegal immigrants who are willing to work for lower prices. Thus, businesses gain competitive advantage. People who believe in the value of illegal immigration also claim that it provides diversity in the cultures of the United States as businesses are expanded to other parts of the world. These people believe that in so doing, Americans also gain understanding of other cultures. Another positive effect that advocates of illegal immigration determine is the decreased cost of products, which are produced in the United States. Consumers are able to pay a lower price for the products and services they purchase because businesses product such at lower prices with low overhead costs. This is because most illegal immigrants are skilled workers. In so doing, economies in other countries also benefit as workers send money to their families in other countries that have lower currency value compared to the United States dollar. Other benefits believed by illegal immigration advocates are as follows:
- Establishes large numbers of consumers to purchase various goods and services
- Planting and harvesting of farmers can be done inexpensively
- Sales taxes are paid by illegal immigrants
- Real estate taxes are paid by illegal immigrants who own properties
- Many illegal immigrants live in rental properties where tenants are rare or difficult to find
- Mortgage loan profits are being contributed by illegal immigrants
- Bankers obtain interest and dividends from illegal immigrants who open bank accounts
- Profit margins of insurers increase as illegal immigrants purchase auto insurance
On the other hand, some individuals and groups have determined a number of negative effects in the pursuance of illegal immigration in the United States. These are as follows:
- With the burden on tax-based resources, taxpayers pay billions of dollars
- Course of justice and persecution is carried out difficulty as illegal immigrants who perpetrated the crimes flee from the United States
- Inequalities between legal immigrants following laws and rules from illegal immigrants who ignore the laws
- Illegal immigrants who were successful in crossing the country illegally may encourage others left in their home country to do the same
- Cheap labor and low wages continue to increase in demand
Although legislators in the United States consistently focus controlling illegal immigration for national security, proposals should consider the advantages and disadvantages of illegal immigration for the country. Laws on illegal immigration should ensure that bilateral relationships as well as internal conflicts are taken into consideration.
Desipio, L. and De La Garza, R. (1998). Making Americans, Remaking America: Immigration and Immigrant Policy (Dilemmas in American Politics). Colorado: Westview Press.
Mills, N. (1994). Arguing Immigration: The Debate over the Changing Face of America. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Yoshida, C. (1987). Illegal Immigration and Economic Welfare (Contributions to Economics). New York: Physica-Verlag Heidelberg.