When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This quote is from current President Donald Trump’s announcement for his presidency on June 16, 2015. Illegal immigration is a heated debate within U.S. politics and political parties. During this current political administration, this discussion has escalated from a rational debate to attacks upon opposing views and illegal immigrants. As individuals have argued over how the U.S. should address illegal immigration inconsiderate and unfair terminology has been repeatedly used to address all illegal immigrants.
Some political figures immorally assume all undocumented immigrants as “job stealers”, “criminals”, and “rapists” without considering the facts about illegal immigration. While illegal immigrants have made a small minority of low-class native workers poorer, illegal immigration isn’t entirely negative as the politicians portray it. The truth is that illegal immigrants have improved the economy, are being denied forms of citizenship even though most are fleeing violent countries, and the country founded on immigrants is flatly denying a chance for those to achieve better lives. So why can’t we change our policies? Is it stubbornness or the belief of false truths? As a young citizen, I currently have little power to change the argument for creating better systems for illegal immigration, but you do. According to the New York Times, illegal immigrants “account for 5 percent of the total U.S. labor force, and at least a quarter of the workers in industries like construction, agriculture, groundskeeping, meat processing, and textile production.”(Where the Undocumented Work, 2014). If the U.S. were to follow the current administration’s idea of deporting all illegal immigrants our economy would collapse due to our reliance on these immigrants filling the low class, blue collar jobs.
In a study done in 2006 completed by the Texas State Comptroller, it was predicted that “The 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas alone added almost $18 billion to the state’s economic output, and more than paid for the $1.2 billion in state services they used by generating $1.6 billion in new state revenues.”(Where the Undocumented Work, 2014). Under these circumstances, if undocumented immigrants within Texas alone contributed to the economy in such a positive way, imagine if these results were found across America if our borders were open. Not only would it make America wealthier, but by allowing a steady influx of legal immigrants additional assistance could be provided to the native population by producing more taxpayers (Borjas). By creating immigration policies that better match the circumstances of immigration, not only does the U.S. economy benefit as a whole, but so do more local governments and the native population. Yet another economic professor named Giovanni Peri who works at the University of California states similar conclusion that states with a higher population of undocumented immigrants “skilled workers made more money and worked more hours; the economy’s productivity grew.”(Adam Davidson).
So why are we not looking towards making better and more sufficient immigration policies that would better benefit our economy? For while politicians may portray undocumented immigrants as our enemy, using provocative language to evoke emotion steering individuals away from the fact that undocumented immigrants help native citizens financially. Undocumented immigrants also contributed to the pay of legal workers from 1990 to 2007 where “undocumented immigrants increased legal workers’ pay in complementary jobs by up to 10 percent.”(Adam Davidson). Allowing more undocumented immigrants would kill two birds with one stone; where there prospect of helping legal citizens financially and help immigrants obtain better lives. To continue, illegal immigration acts as a way to spread and redistribute wealth. According to George J. Borjas a professor of economics and social policy at Harvard “Immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants—from the employee to the employer. And the additional profits are so large that the economic pie accruing to all natives actually grows.”(George J. Borjas).
The benefits of undocumented immigrants upon the economy are significant but by allowing them to obtain legal status, their contributions would increase. For according to a New York Times article “Workers who are not part of an underground economy and don’t live in fear of deportation are better able to acquire new job skills and move up the career ladder. That translates into higher wages, more money paid in taxes, and more money to spend.”(Walter Ewing and Mark Krikorian). Currently, within the political debate on immigration policies, the presidential administration has unrealistic ideas to deport all immigrants, which according to Gordon H. Hanson a professor a the University of California “stemming illegal immigration would likely lead to a net drain on the U.S. economy—a finding that calls into question many of the proposals to increase funding for border protection.”(The Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration). Additionally, our government is looking past what illegal immigration contributes to the U.S. economy and ignores that the main reason behind why most individuals come to the U.S. illegally. Which is to not steal our jobs, take advantage of our healthcare, to be drug dealers and criminals, but they are searching for better economic and socials opportunities.
The statue of liberty is one of the most iconic symbols of America. Hence, as time has passed since the statue first arrived, American views have changed of her representation. Most believe she stands for our liberty and freedom, but this barely shines a light on what she truly represents. The poem “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus on November 2, 1883, is inscribed upon the statue and gives human light upon famous, copper woman where she says “With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”(The New Colossus). Many forget that she stands as a welcome to immigrants onto American soil. In contradiction to what America once stood for as a place of refuge for immigrants seeking better opportunities, we have in current times closed our doors to illegal immigrants seeking similar opportunities. Is it ethically right for the country founded upon immigrants to turn our backs to undocumented immigrants seeking refuge as our forefathers once did? For it was through illegal immigration that the United States of America would begin.
Perhaps many Americans view illegal immigration in such a negative connotation is because many current government officials paint a world where all illegal immigrants are criminals looking to take advantage of “natives” and aliens. To portray such a group as individuals without human characteristics is unfair and cruel. For most of those “aliens” Immigrating to the United States are searching for better, more safe, and healthy opportunities for themselves and their families. Aren’t those the same reasons our ancestors who came to America? Our constitution does include differentiation of legal and illegal citizens but is also includes that all people, legal or illegal, should be given equal processes and treatment under the law(Victor C. Romero). Has America resorted to racial stereotypes and unsupported assumptions? Before one can say no, think about how we refer to undocumented immigrants as “aliens” as though their going to invade our country and take over. How criminality is commonly related to discussions of immigration. Where we have ignored the legitimate values of those wishing to obtain and vilified those who are not legal citizens. Under the Trump Administration, the press for the eradication of illegal immigration has increased.
To meet these ends, drastic decisions have been made to bar, separate families, and not provide secure legal refuge for the undocumented. Isn’t it immoral to block these individuals when most are fleeing for countries of civil war, gang violence, and economic issues? According to your speech given on December 15, 2017, you quoted when speaking about DACA and illegal immigration “First, you’re going to encourage parents from around the world who live in poverty and oppression and war to illegally immigrate to our country with small children. What could be more dangerous and even immoral than that?”(Cotton Calls Democrats Bluff on Immigration on Senate Floor). This lense of viewing why many immigrants travel to the United States is in human and inconsiderate. Considering that the places these people are escaping from are in such bad conditions that the small chance that they could make a better life for their children and family in the United States is worth the risk. According to The Atlantic many “Families arriving at the border from countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala leave behind a myriad of stories, many of them connected to their homelands’ plague of armed violence.”(Martínez). Many are fleeing from gangs, sexual violence, poverty, and there is no party in those countries that are handling the problems well. As the land of opportunity shouldn’t we make better policies to help the less unfortunate, much like the soils of America once did to our ancestors? Currently, our policies for immigrants applying for visas and asylum are hard to obtain and can take a numerous amount of years.
Additionally according to the Washington post this presidential administration “has embraced even tougher measures: “zero tolerance” for those arriving illegally, by requiring criminal prosecutions; family separation, a policy from which Mr. Trump was forced to retreat after images of children wailing for their parents provoked a public outcry; and eliminating domestic violence and gang violence as grounds for granting asylum to migrants who arrived at legal crossing points.”(Nicholas Kulish). For those individuals suffering from violent countries and with granted asylum through domestic and gang violence being taken away from this current administration, it makes sense why the risks to travel to the united states are worth it. If you were in such a situation, wouldn’t you as well? In a speech in 2017 you mentioned and I quote “Shouldn’t we have an immigration system that focuses on the needs of America’s workers and economy, not one that gives out green cards by random chance, the way we have today? Shouldn’t we be focused on the jobs and the wages of American citizens?”(Cotton Calls Democrats? Bluff on Immigration on Senate Floor). Here’s the thing, while illegal immigration does lower the wages of some natives who are in competing jobs alongside immigrants, this is only a small minority of Americans.
Undocumented immigrants working in industries such as Agriculture, Grounds Maintenance, Food Preparation and Serving, Textile, Apparel, and Furnishings Workers, Cooks, Construction Trade Workers, Helpers, Construction Trades, Building Cleaning, Pest Control, and Food Processing(Where the Undocumented Work). According to the 1A podcast from the National Public Radio or NPR “High costs of living and a lack of interest in pursuing blue-collar careers are affecting the labor market across the nation.”(Why Some States Are Experiencing A Labor Shortage). Meaning, that the areas that you have mentioned that are affecting American’s wages and jobs are not currently being filled. Illegal immigration provides cheap labor to areas that are currently lacking. Also considering the fact that if the guest worker and citizenship programs were designed to work the the benifit of the United States economy, it would prevent the lowering of wages, create more money from tax payments, and fundamentally more money to spend(Walter Ewing and Mark Krikorian). So wouldn’t changing policies to make these immigrants path to citizenship easier more benefit Americans? By preventing lowered wages, supporting natives through tax payments, and raising the economy of America.
Isn’t that better than wasting the money of American taxpayers trying to eradicate a nearly impossible influx of immigrants? Viewing the idea of making legal citizenship a more straightforward process for those suffering from violence as immoral for risking the lives of their family and themselves is misguided. Isn’t it our imperative to help those in suffering achieve a better opportunity? Isn’t it immoral that the United States is making it nearly impossible to achieve citizenship for those who are facing poverty, war, domestic and gang violence? Those who are coming here understand the consequences and dangers there are, but they have no better option. You have mentioned “We often hear that children ought not to pay for the crimes of their parents. That may be so, but surely parents can pay for the crimes of the parents.”(Cotton Calls Democrats? Bluff on Immigration on Senate Floor). If one is to think that way of punishing those who have caused the influx of illegal immigration, isn’t the U.S. one who should suffer the consequences of our actions? For many of U.S. foreign interventions are a large part in the causation of the violence, civil wars, dictatorships, and criminal activity in many areas in Latin America, which has forced many Latin Americans to travel illegally to the U.S.(Amanda Machado).
In a time where each political party is currently acting as a group of three-year-olds, fighting over a toy; there are not mature and beneficial conversations being had to discuss global issues, like illegal immigration. There are solutions to our issues with immigration. By creating more straightforward laws for individuals wishing to get citizenship, green cards, guest worker permits, or asylum the United States could help those who are suffering and mend the broken relationships we have made with these countries that we once caused issues in. For the worry of lowered wages, if policies were introduced that would somehow tax companies benefiting from low-skilled immigrants and through this taxation help the native population suffering from these wage cuts(“Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers”). For shouldn’t policies try to benefit American’s and the U.S. economy? For currently illegal immigration is very beneficial to America and this would increase if more of these immigrants were here legally. With such benefits as low-cost labor to money that supports the native population.
Unfortunately as a high school student and youth of America, I don’t have as much power to create change. I may be able to start a conversation but not execute an over vision. But that is where you as an influential Senator can start the open conversation. While we may not agree upon illegal immigration you have the power and the duty to start a better world for the youth going to inherit this world. And shouldn’t we make a more diverse and open world for those to inherit it? I would like to take the time that is necessary to thank you for kindly reading my letter and taking your time to address my issue of conversation. For not only the future of the United States and these individuals who are looking for a better life I hope that you can start a mature conversation leading to more straightforward policies for immigrants to obtain some form of legal citizenship. In the future, I do hope to hear from you to further create a healthy debate. Once again thank you so much for your time.