In the United States, there are over 40 million immigrants, both legal and unauthorized (Auclair, Batalova, Nwosu 1). Of that 40 million, an estimated 11 million immigrants are not authorized to be in the country (Krogsadt, Passel 1). In recent news, there has been quite the debate over whether or not there should be amnesty or citizenship offered to some or all of the undocumented citizens in America. I have a personal attachment to the subject. I believe there should be a clear and easy pathway to citizenship for immigrants with some restrictions. I support this idea because they provide for older generations, younger generations, and fill jobs Americans will not take. First, the term ‘illegal immigrant’ is politically inaccurate. As Garcia points out in his article, the term ‘illegal immigrant’ was first used by the British to describe Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. As Garcia also quotes Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, “No human being is illegal.”
Garcia shows in his article that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote for the majority on a case about using the terms ‘illegal immigrant’, ‘illegal alien’, or ‘illegal’, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and three other justices in this case. In the case SB 1070, a case regarding Arizona’s immigration reform and enforcement bill, the majority ruled that in general, a removable alien is not considered a criminal, which the term ‘illegal’ implies. They also stated that seeking out or engaging in unauthorized employment is not a crime (1). Going with this point, I will be referring to this group of people as unauthorized and undocumented immigrants or workers. My family is about as American as they come. My grandfather is from Kentucky and my grandmother is from Ohio. My uncle is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and his son is training in Texas as I type this to become an Air force military policeman. My cousin, who I will talk about a little more later on, just recently completed the criminal justice program at Sinclair and will soon go into the police academy.
My grandfather looks at my cousins’ husband, who is an undocumented worker from Mexico, with so much respect and admiration. We started to notice how much alike they are, down to the way they dress and what they watch on television. One common misconception about undocumented workers is that they take money from native born Americans, especially older Americans because of a common problem of not doing enough research about how they contribute to Social Security. Davidson talks about how Stephen Gross, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration, touches on how undocumented workers contributed $15 billion to Social Security through payroll taxes while only taking out $1 billion because most undocumented workers are unable to receive the benefits (1). Contributing that much money while taking out so little benefits more than just the American government. According to the Social Security Administration website, over forty–two thousand Americans sixty five and older received Social Security benefits in November (1).
On the flipside of the economy is how deporting and detaining undocumented citizens would affect the government budget. Davidson gives one example of how much one undocumented worker spends every year. This particular person spends over $10,000 annually, including one thousand four hundred dollars paid to the IRS to have a taxpayer identification number. When I said I have a personal connection, I meant my cousin, who asked that her and her family (including her husband who is in the process of becoming a legal United States citizen) remain anonymous and their real names not be used. So when I cite her throughout this paper, she will be referred to as Lisa, her husband will be referred to as Juan, her son as Daniel, and her younger sister as Brittney. Lisa has told me Juan has paid to have a taxpayer identification number so he can pay taxes just like a natural American citizen would. I have seen him work so hard to support himself, my cousins, and to send money back to his family in Mexico.
How many men do you know that would step up to be a parent to a child they did not have to care about? Within my family that seems to be a common theme. My grandfather was not my aunt and uncles’ biological father, but he raised them. I have a step brother and step sister. Their father raised me. Juan is raising Brittney’s son with Lisa. Not only have I seen how younger generations will be impacted positively by some of the actions of these undocumented people, I have seen how their work will benefit younger people with their contributions to the economy and government. In the article mentioned above, Gross also says that undocumented workers have contributed about $300 billion to the Social Security trust fund of $2.7 trillion dollars (Davidson 1). This trust fund, according to the Social Security Administration and the information they have on the website about the trust fund, is split into two separate funds. One of them, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) fund, provides benefits for retired people and families of the deceased (1). If undocumented citizens are taking from our children’s futures, then why would they put so much into something to help families of people who have passed away?
Lisa has a younger brother as well. For this paper, we will call him George. George has always been kind of a troublemaker. Juan would constantly try to get him a job and he knew that he would get paid after two weeks. After the two weeks would be over, he never showed up again to the jobs. How was my family supposed to believe he wanted to make a better life for himself if he refused to accept help in getting a job? Undocumented workers have been accused of taking jobs from native born Americans. There is a viewpoint shared between myself and my family. The view is that if an American is unwilling to take a job they believe they are above or feel does not pay enough, why shouldn’t some who is trying to make a better life for themselves or their family have the job. Employers who are looking to hire people to help them run a successful business do not want to stretch their employees too thin. This paper is not about me, but I can say there were days at jobs I have had where we didn’t have enough people, and the whole of everyone who was there was miserable and stretched to the limit.
Trying to have too few people doing more than they can handle makes for low morale amongst workers. Lisa told me she lived in Mexico for quite a while and had a job that paid seven hundred pesos a week. I did some research and learned that the exchange rate for pesos to U.S. dollars is 0.068, making her seven hundred pesos a week equal forty seven dollars and twenty seven cents in America. Imagine trying to live on $47.27 a week. Jobs that were thought to have higher number of undocumented workers than native born workers have actually been shown to be misrepresented. These professions include: maids/housekeepers, taxi drivers/chauffeurs, butchers, grounds keepers/maintenance, construction, porters/bellhops/concierges, and janitors (Camarota, Zeigler 1). Griswold talks about how immigrants move more native born Americans up in the job world (1). So the misconception that undocumented workers are forcing Americans out of jobs is simply outrageous.
Before I go in further in the paper, I want to tell you how long I have known Juan and how long he has been with Lisa. This is where my personal interview comes into play. Lisa told me that Juan came to America in 2001. At that time, I would have been just five or six years old. I can say that I have known Juan for the majority of my life, seeing as how Lisa and Juan have been together for eleven and a half years, officially getting married last year. My family always knew they would be together and so did they. Before they even thought of getting married, they got matching tattoos. They say ‘Til death do us part’ in Spanish. Lisa has a younger sister, Brittney, who is not emotionally stable and has never completed high school and has not gotten her GED. Their mother died when I was just ten years old. It was a rainy Thanksgiving Day. Once Juan saw screwed up our family was, he could have run far away. He could have deserted my family. The thing was, he didn’t. He never has. When Brittney was sixteen, she got pregnant and knew she could not take care of the coming child. Lisa said she would take care of him. Juan could have run this time too. He didn’t. He stayed and helped Brittney with her pregnancy.
She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in October of 2010. His name is Daniel and Juan treats him as his own. Never have I seen a man so committed to taking care of a child that was not biologically his. One day, I overheard Lisa asking Daniel, who is now four years old, if he wanted Daddy to go back to Mexico or to stay with him. He said “He has to stay here because I can’t go to work with you, Mom.” Obviously, the whole family got a giggle from his matter-of-fact tone, but what he said got me thinking. What about all the children whose parents were taken from them, no warning given? What would they say? I could never imagine having my mother taken away from me. In the case of my family, Brittney knew who the father was, but never wanted anything to do with him because he was a good for nothing liar. There are some people that should never be taken away from a child. President Obama has offered a plan for amnesty or a pathway to citizenship for a large population of undocumented citizens. DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was proposed and passed in 2012.
This action expand an offer made to immigrants under the age of thirty who were brought here without authorization the ability to apply for a deportation deferral. Obama’s executive action also relieves some stress concerning the constant threat of deportation for parents of legal American citizens who have been here at least five years, like Juan. This group may also be able to access work visas with more ease. This action will not, however, provide coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Estimates have come out saying that around four million undocumented workers and citizens will be effected by this reform (Ehrenfreund 1).
I would rather have men like Juan stay in the country and try to make a better life for themselves and care for people they are not in any way inclined to than people who refuse to take a job available to them. In conclusion, I tend to side with a more liberal point of view when it comes to ‘illegal immigration.’ I do not believe any one group or race of people should be called ‘illegal’, especially if they are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. In conclusion, I firmly believe that there should be fighting for the right for immigrants to become American citizens immigrants because of how they provide for elders, the younger generations, and fill jobs that would otherwise go undone.
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