DREAMers and MS-13 are two completely different groups of people, yet they are grouped together through one huge controversy: illegal immigration. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “[an] illegal immigrant [is] someone who lives or works in another country when they do not have the legal right to do this.” There are countless questions and issues that arise from discussing illegal immigration, but one of the biggest issues right now in this country is whether illegal immigrants should receive government benefits or not. Due to the increasing debt the United States is in and the level of poverty in the United States, illegal immigrants should not receive government benefits. With the United States debt reaching tens of trillions of dollars, the government should look at saving itself rather than people who are not supposed to be here.
According to the “U.S. Debt Clock”, the debt the United States is currently in is 21.49 trillion dollars. Also, according to the “U.S. Debt Clock”, the United States has the highest debt in the world, beating China by roughly 19 trillion dollars. Many my argue that illegal immigrants pay their fair share of taxes, but this is not the case. According to Matt O’Brien and Spencer Raley, researchers for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, gross national cost of illegal immigrants is 134,863,455,364, while the taxes paid by illegal immigrants is 18,968,857,700, equaling out to a national deficit of 116 billion dollars. The money is coming out of taxpayers’ pockets, both native born and legal immigrants. This may seem miniscule compared to the national debt, but according to “Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go”, illegal immigration would be the seventh most costly federal spending, which is more than what the United States spends on education each year. This means that the federal and state governments together spend more money on criminals than they do on educating the future leaders of this country.
Claire Felter and Danielle Renwick write, “The undocumented population is about eleven million and has leveled off since the 2008 economic crisis.” With these numbers, one illegal immigrant costs the United States 10,545 dollars each year. According to O’Brien and Raley, “the federal government spends 1.6 billion dollars on education of illegal immigrants, 17.1 billion dollars on medical cost of illegal immigrants, 13.1 billion dollars on justice expenditures of illegal immigrants, and 5.8 billion dollars on welfare programs for illegal immigrants.” The United States does not have room in the budget for this. No matter someone’s opinion on illegal immigration and the ethics behind the whole issue, it is evident that illegal immigration is costing the United States money it just does not have.
Poverty of United States citizens is a gigantic problem that will only get worse if the government does not turn to helping its own people. According to Paul Nyhan, senior writer for the Marguerite Casey Foundation, “[t]he number of people living in poverty fell again last year, reaching the lowest level since the Great Recession began in 2007, with 12.7 percent of Americans living below the federal poverty line, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on Sept. 12.” Although it is wonderful news that poverty made a decline, still 12.7 percent of people are living below the poverty line. These are men, women, and children who are citizens of the United States, yet they still suffer each day. In fact, about a third of those living in poverty are children (Nyhan). Poverty is a huge problem in the United States, and illegal immigrants are not helping. According to Gwynn Guilford, Quartz reporter, “[b]y 2014, unauthorized immigrants, on average, earned only 3.4% less than their legal peers.”
Illegal immigrants cost companies thirty-four cents less per ten dollars, which means that compared to their peers making minimum wage, illegal immigrants cost companies ten dollars less each work week. With hundreds of illegal immigrants working for years in these companies, it is cheaper for companies to hire them. This is taking jobs away from American families that need them. Many people may believe that illegal immigrants support the economy, such as Steven Zahniser, Thomas Hertz, Peter B. Dixon, and Maureen T. Rimmer, who write that fifty percent of illegal immigrants work in agriculture and if there was a loss if illegal immigrants, fruit and vegetable production would drop from two to five percent. According to the “U.S. debt clock”, there are eleven million people unemployed right now. If the eleven million illegal immigrants did not work in America, then those jobs would be open to those unemployed. Illegal immigration does not help the economy; it keeps hard working Americans from having a job.
Government benefits should be strictly for Americans because the escalating debt is taking away any extra money that is in the budget and poverty in America is still an epidemic. Whether one supports illegal immigration or not, it is obvious that there is no room for government spending on illegal immigrants. If one strictly looks at the laws of the United States and monetary availability of the United States, its obvious that America does not have the ability to care for those that are not supposed to be here. The debt keeps piling up and poverty is destroying the country. To help others, one must help him or herself first. This is no different in a country. America must fix itself first if this country wants to ever truly help others.