Reformsin Immigration Laws
Immigrationreforms that deal responsibly and practically with the 11 millionundocumented immigrants living in the United States have been elusiveover the past decade. Immigration law is a politically divisive issuein the country (Solis). Ten years ago, the previous government triedto pass a law that would legalize the immigrant’s status, but theCongress rejected it. Studies show that most Americans want thegovernment to enact reforms that will allow more avenues foracquiring citizenships for those immigrants who are living in thecountry illegally (Solis). Hence, the current administration hasstruggled to pass comprehensive immigration laws that would introducereforms to have the undocumented immigrants legalized. Even so, theirefforts have been challenged and blocked by the conservatives whoview immigrants as a burden on the economy. The opposition favorsmore security at the border and restrictions on asylum immigrants orguest workers. Some people go to an extent of advocating deportationof all undocumented immigrants (Solis). Nonetheless, the law allowslegalization of immigrants who have been in the United States formore than ten years.
Immigrantsare given visas based on the principles of uniting families, if theyhave skills that are valuable to the country’s economy, to promotediversity, and protect refugees. The United States provide 675,000immigrants with a chance to become American citizens. Despite theseopportunities, many immigrants do not have the necessary familyrelations, required expertise, or qualify as refugees to apply forlegal entry. Besides, most undocumented immigrants do not work inprofessions where they can be eligible for a green card (AmericanImmigration Council). On the other hand, some immigrants meet thequalifications, but they wait for years before they can get a visa(Bolick and Bush 57). The United States immigration system is unableto uphold the demands of changing and growing economy. Thus, thecurrent immigration laws do not reflect the needs of a diversenation. Furthermore, the laws have overly restrictive limits on greencards, which mean that all undocumented immigrants have no legalavenues for entering the United States (American ImmigrationCouncil). According to surveys, 98 percent of the illegal immigrantsprefer to work and live legally in the America, but they lack theopportunity to apply for legal citizenship. Consequently, the UnitedStates is still receiving an influx of illegal immigrants because thecurrent system makes it almost impossible for uneducated immigrantsto get visas (American Immigration Council). Ifthe country does not change the current immigration laws in thecoming decade, it will cause problems such as reduced availability oflow-skilled workers and loss of economic and cultural benefits ofimmigrants.
Thecountry needs to change the immigration laws because the immigrantshelp meet the demand of low-skilled employees. The demand forlow-skilled labor in the service sectors has increased while thesupply of available United States’ workers has steadily decreased.For example, the immigrants represent approximately 20 percent of allworkers in industries such as construction, agriculture, and foodservice (Solis). Research shows that the current annual limit of500,000 green cards for the low-skilled immigrants is insufficientfor the nation’s labor needs. The number of low-skilled labor isdecreasing because more Americans are becoming better educated andhaving fewer children. Accordingly, the number of employees in theservice industries is expected to reduce even further in the comingdecade (Solis).
Itis impossible to ignore that the immigrants are woven into the fabricof the American society (Bushand Bolick 63).Low-skilled immigrants perform the essential tasks such as increasingthe productivity of the skilled workers, which benefit the UnitedStates’ economy. For example, the low-skilled immigrants facilitatethe productivity of agricultural land that would otherwise beunprofitable (Solis). Hence, the policymakers must acknowledge thebenefits derived from having low-skilled workers even as they work toreduce illegal immigration in the country. Currently, millions ofworkers are vulnerable to employers who seek unfair competitiveadvantage by paying their workers less than the stipulated minimumwage or ignoring the labor rights (Solis). However, if theundocumented workers are provided the same protection as the Americanworkers, it will prevent the employers from driving the wages downfor everybody. Businesses are also losing employees due to the agingAmerican workforce and the increased rapid retirement of the babyboomer generation. The country should have a policy that maintains astable and balanced workforce using younger workers, especially inthe manual labor. Therefore, the immigration reforms will ensure thatthe country can retain jobs in the informal industries (Solis).
Thenagain, immigration reforms will allow the government to conduct aseries of background checks on the immigrants before they can becomeAmerican citizens. Since the September 11 terrorist attack, thecountry has been on a high alert to minimize the possibility ofhaving terrorists enter the country through the illegal immigrationchannels (Bush and Bolick 57). The border security has beentightened, but the country is still receiving an increasing number ofimmigrants (Bush and Bolick 52). The situation shows that it isnecessary to change the requirements stipulating that an immigrantcan only be legalized if they have stayed in the country for morethan ten years. The time the immigrants remain in the country beforelegalization means they have not undergone the proper backgroundchecks to determine if they pose any security threat to the safety ofthe other people in the society. Consequently, the reforms willcreate a screening process that will separate ordinary immigrants whocome to the United States to improve their lives from those who maypose a security threat by exploiting the current system (Solis).
Moreover,legalizing the immigrants will require them to fulfill theirobligations as any other American. The changes in the currentimmigration policy should stipulate the registration of undocumentedimmigrants, which will also require them to pay taxes even as theywork towards their American dream (Wolgin & Fitz). For example,the immigrants will contribute to Medicaid, Medicare, and socialsecurity. It will increase the government resources, which can beused to improve some of the essential services such as healthcare.According to Wolgin & Fitz, “undocumented immigrants willincrease their salary by 15 percent over five years, which willaccumulate to $832 billion in economic development and $109 billionmore tax revenues over the next decade.”
Furthermore,the immigration reforms would contribute to cultural diversity in thesociety. “Immigration is closely attached to America’s history.Each year, more immigrants take the citizenship pledge and committhemselves to improving the future of the country. Thus, peoplecannot deny the significant role that both immigrants and native-bornAmericans play in creating a better society” (Solis). The reformsthat would allow illegal immigrants to become American citizens willpromote incorporation of people from different backgrounds andbeliefs in the society. Hence, their nurtured experiences willstrengthen the society without eroding the American principles(Bandow). It is unfeasible to spend billions of dollars each year tofind and deport people who are trying to assimilate into the societyby learning English and contributing to the economic success of thecountry (Bush and Bolick 58). Besides, most of the immigrants havejobs, families, and even properties thus, they have developed deeperroots in the United States than in their countries of origin(Bandow).
Conversely,the people against immigration reforms should stop exacerbating thesocial cost of undocumented immigrants (Bandow). The immigration lawsstipulate arresting and deporting the illegal immigrants, whichincreases the vulnerabilities of the immigrant communities andreduces their compliance with the police (Wolgin & Fitz).Instead, the immigration policy should ensure that the employers arecompelled to check the documents before hiring. Likewise, the lawsoffer very few legal options for attaining American citizenship,which forces many people to use the illegal immigration channels.Moreover, the current system has created a market for smugglers,which makes it difficult to stop the influx of immigrants despite theincreased border security (Bush and Bolick 50). Therefore,immigration changes will make it easier for the undocumentedimmigrants to reunite with their families using legal channelsinstead of seeking the services of the smugglers. Besides, it willrequire the immigrants to register with the government and go throughthe necessary background checks (Wolgin & Fitz).
However,some people argue that the immigration of low-skilled workers is amajor problem to the economy. The claim is based on the idea thatillegal immigration will result in the influx of low-skilled workers,which will be a burden on the government finances and decrease thewages for the Native Americans (Bandow). Some opposition alsoindicates that undocumented workers bring up the issue of wagecompetition in most industries in the country. The illegal immigrantsdo not pay taxes thus, they readily accept low paying jobs.Additionally, the legalized immigrants will now require assistancefrom the welfare programs, which will increase the governmentspending on these programs. Others claim that legalizing the statusof undocumented immigrants would be pardoning an act that violatesthe law hence, it will be an incentive for more illegal immigrantsto come to the United States. There are other objections based on theimpact of immigrants on the quality of the American society. Thereare arguments that the illegal immigrants erode the social bond andhinder the cooperation required to establish vibrant and safecommunities. For example, the illegal immigrants are usuallyreluctant to corporate with the law enforcement due to fear ofdeportation. Hence, it becomes challenging to obtain the necessarypersonal and work information, which increases the security threatsin the country (Solis).
Onthe contrary, these assumptions are not entirely accurate becauseresearch shows that the low-skilled immigrants have a minimal impacton the federal finances although the local governments may facegreater financial burden. Nonetheless, the overall effect is small inthe long-term. Evidence from various studies suggests that theincrease in low-skilled immigration for the past two decades has hada minor influence on the wages of low-skilled American workers.Conversely, the availability of low-skilled labor attracts investmentin the industries that require the services of these workers(Bandow). The American workers are improving their education levelsthus, they are not competing directly with the low-skilledimmigrants. As such, the employers should have an opportunity toemploy the immigrant workers without the fear of prosecution, andthis can only be achieved with immigration reforms that will legalizethe large numbers of undocumented workers already in the country.Then again, changing immigration laws will protect all employees fromunfair competition and exploitation (Bandow).
Finally,the people need to face the reality that the border walls, tightenedsecurity, and harsh policies have not prevented immigrants fromentering the country illegally (Bolick and Bush 52). Therefore, it isnecessary to have immigration changes that seek to benefit from thehigh population of the undocumented immigrants instead of incurringhuge costs of deportation (Bandow). On the other hand, the UnitedStates unemployment rate is at 10 percent and some people believethat it is not yet the right time for immigration changes that willinclude creating legal channels for the legalization of theimmigrants already living in America. People are ignoring the factthat a large population of immigrants is already in the country andincorporated in the workforce hence, they are not the sole cause ofthe high unemployment rate. Besides, a policy devised to deportapproximately 11 million undocumented immigrants would cost thegovernment billions of dollars (Bandow). It would also create a hugegap in the workforce and lower the demand for goods, which wouldreduce the country’s GDP. Consequently, comprehensive immigrationreforms will help meet the labor demand at a time when the economy isrecovering and creating more demand for both skilled and low-skilledlabor (Solis).
Inconclusion, the current immigration system is broken as it costs theAmerican economy billions in wasted resources, productivity,underdeveloped human capital, reduced wages, and uncollected taxrevenues. Immigration reforms are necessary and time-sensitivebecause they will benefit not only the immigrants but also the UnitedStates’ economy, security, and workers. The current immigrationsystem keeps families apart for years, which discourages theimmigrants from working within the legal system. Therefore, it isimperative to have immigration changes because they will strengthenthe immigrants’ families. Hence, an immigrant who has the supportof a family is more likely to contribute to the society by payingtaxes and starting a business, which creates jobs and improves thenation’s economy. Constructive immigration reforms will alsobalance the rule of law with protecting the country’s prosperityand civil liberties. The changes will benefit the human rights, theAmerican economy, and education. It will also move the countryforward by improving the skilled and low-skilled workforce. Illegalimmigration is a crime, but the immigrants want to stay in the UnitedStates, which means that they avoid crime because it may result intheir arrest and deportation. Thus, not all immigrants pose asecurity threat. Then again, until the country can have more legalopportunities for employers to hire immigrant workers, undocumentedimmigrants will fill the gap when the demand increases. Therefore,improving the laws can address the immigrants currently livingillegally in the country, but any new policies must be accompanied bya realistic to meet the demands the labor demands in the country.
AmericanImmigration Council. “Why they don’t just get in line?”AmericanImmigration CouncilMarch 2013. Web. 30 June 2016.
Bandow,Doug. “Immigration benefits the U.S., so let’s legalize allwork.” Forbes16 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 June 2016.
Bolick,Clint, and Jed Bush. ImmigrationWars: Forging an American Solution.Simon and Schuster, 2014. Print.
Solis,Hilda L. “Immigrants and America’s future.”Americas Quarterly2011. Web. 30 June 2016.
Wolgin,Philip E. and Marshall, Fitz. “Top 10 ways the Senate’simmigration reform bill will fix our broken system.” Centerfor American Progress16 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 June 2016.