Illegal Immigration Threat in the US
There are approximately twelve million illegal immigrants in the United States alone. Statistics also show that this population is growing by 700,000 people every year. Most of these immigrants enter the country through the Mexican border (Camarota, 2012). Several issues have emerged as a result of the influx of illegal migrants into the country. Policy makers and Americans in general are concerned about increasing security issues, drug-abuse among youth, and job loss owing to the proliferation of illegal South American immigrants into seemingly every corner of the United States.
Studies have conclusively shown that the economic benefits accrued from immigrant labor are far greater than the economic costs of their presence. Unfortunately, many American residents believe that the influx of immigrants into the country is costing the country greatly. Many residents and policymakers assume that immigrants take the jobs that could have been done by natives, resulting in an increase in unemployment for the native workforce. The truth of the matter is that immigrants (documented or not) are actually beneficial to the economy.
Normally, illegal immigrants come to America in search of better jobs, and higher living standards. The increase in the population translates to higher productivity, which advertently adds value to the country’s economy. Illegal immigrants actually contribute significantly to the supply side of the economy, and this is the major reason that the business community has resisted any crackdown efforts on immigration.
Thus, the argument that undocumented immigrants contribute to significant economic losses can easily be dismissed. America’s current foreign population is twelve percent higher than in other decades. Yet the country is exhibiting stronger economic growth in terms of higher GDP, increased productivity per worker, more Americans in the workforce, and an increase in GDP per person.
Furthermore, according to the Council of Economic Advisers (2005), the unemployment rates for immigrants are below the national average. The advisers also stipulate that a 10% increase in immigrant labor result in approximately a 1% reduction in the wages of natives, which is a minor displacement. Finally, the advisers also cite that the majority of immigrant workers have a positive fiscal impact on the country. Such families contribute $88000 more in taxes than what they consume as services. It is therefore not prudent to assume and argue that immigrants are hurting the economy when it is actually improving.
Another important point of criticism against the illegal immigrants is the premise that they overburden the social insurance institutions that the country has set up. In reality, the undocumented immigrants have contributed to a $463 billion surplus owing to the Social Security payroll taxes that they pay on a monthly basis. Thus, they are not exhausting the social security nets that the country has put in place.
However, the presence of undocumented immigrants in the country poses a far bigger security issue that economic gains cannot cover. The influx of undocumented aliens into the country undermines the security and legal environment of the country. The way that the undocumented immigrants enter the country is illegal and yet it has become the norm in the country. Flouting the rules regarding the security of the country has created a dangerous environment where terrorism and insecurity seem to flourish.
Drug traffickers are on the increase due to the illegal entry of immigrants into the country. Most traffickers use the same route as the undocumented immigrants to enter the United States. There are also instances when the drug lords in the South American countries use the immigrants as drug mules (Larsen, Krumov, Van Le, Ommundsen, & van der Veer, 2009). Most immigrants come to the country to look for better job opportunities but due to their vulnerability, they end up being used by the drug lords to transport drugs into America.
The biggest potential security issue with illegal immigration is the problem of terrorism. The rise in terrorism activities especially those targeted at the US has become a major concern for all Americans. Perceptive terrorists may be to infiltrate the country’s borders using the same routes that illegal migrants use. Once they arrive in the country using such routes, they are able to carry out their terrorist activities, leading to massive death, destruction, and pain in the country.
The economic costs of terrorism far outweigh the economic benefits of having illegal immigrants in the country. When the economic costs of drug trafficking and abuse are added to the costs of terrorism, then the effects are detrimental for the entire nation. The fact of the matter is that undocumented immigrants are a threat to the country’s national security. Drug trafficking and terrorist activities continue to rise with the number of undocumented immigrants in the country.
Policy makers are at an impasse on the matter. They cannot formulate legislation that cracks down on illegal immigrants. They are also not in a position to sit back and wait for the next terrorist attack or drug-related crime spree to occur. One solution to this impasse is to create a guest worker program. Such a program will ensure that all foreign visitors have been documented regardless of whether they are visiting for a few days or looking for a job in the country. The program will ensure that the country continues to reap the economic benefits of having an immigrant population without necessarily suffering losses due to drug trafficking and terrorism activities.
Several attempts have been made to develop a guest worker program that benefits all the stakeholders involved. The latest guest worker program that was proposed during George Bush’s administration was cancelled after the 9/11 attacks. In 2004, the president reiterated his commitment to allow guest workers into the country for a specified period. However, his plan fell through due to lack of adequate support in Congress (Morgan, 2004).
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 was introduced during the early years of the Obama administration (McKenna, 2005). The Act is supposed to create the Bureau of Immigration and Market Research that would monitor the guest worker program. The program would provide W-visas to temporary low-skilled workers and monitor their stay in the country.
The Act also stipulates that the W-visa holders need to be paid a similar wage to that earned by native employees in a similar position. W-visa holders cannot be hired if there are American workers who are willing and ready to fill the position (McKenna 2005). The guest workers will also be entitled to the same labor rights as American natives. The W-visa holders are entitled to be in the country for three years but they can renew their permits once after that.
Camarota, S.A. (2012). Immigrants in the United States: A profile of America’s foreign-born population. Retrieved from http://www.cis.org/articles/2012/
Council of Economic Advisers (2005). Economic Report of the President. Washington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Kane, T & Johnson, A. (2006, Mar 1). The real problem with immigration and the real solution. Retrieved on 1/6/2016 from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2006/03/the-real-problem-with-immigration-and-the-real-solution#_ftn3
Larsen, K. S., Krumov, K., Van Le, H., Ommundsen, R., & van der Veer, K. (2009). Threat perception and attitudes toward documented and undocumented immigrants in the United States: Framing the debate and conflict resolution. European Journal of Social Sciences, 7(4), 115-134.
McKenna, E. (2005). Guest worker programs: problem or solution? Salve Regina University.
Morgan, K.L. (2004). Evaluating Guest worker programs in the US: A Comparison of the Bracero program and |president Bush’s proposed immigration reform plan. Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, 15 (2): 125.