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Effects of illegal immigration on the economy of the United States and the measures that be taken to minimize the effect Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 11th, 2020

Abstract

Considering that the legal migrants have high selection of the jobs available makes them less productive to the economy of the United States. One can become a legal migrant through relatives. Others are temporary legal immigrants with invitations by employers in the United States. The government should consider that illegal immigrants contribute to the economy of the United States when enforcing the reforms. The illegal immigrants provide the United States with the type of workers the country needs, any time, and anywhere in the country.

However, policy reforms that support legalization of illegal immigrants because of their timing of arrival, occupational mobility, and skills would lower than raise the economy of the United States. The government needs to be cautious when controlling the illegal immigration to ensure that the costs do not outweigh the benefits. The study will include the demographics of the illegal immigration, its history, the immigration policy, and the impact that the illegal immigration has on the economy of the United States.

Introduction

According to Anrig and Wang (2004), illegal immigration is a major concern in the government of the United States. The population of illegal immigrants in the United States has risen from five million to approximately 12 million in the last 10 years creating the image that the country has lost control of its borders. The congress has approved measures to ensure that the borders have restrictions on the flow of unauthorized migrants.

The politicians are also in the process of enforcing immigration laws that promote legal immigration and discourage illegal immigration. This will help the United States to improve its economy. High numbers of illegal migrants cause threats to the economy of a country. A comprehensive review of the incentives, disincentives, benefits, and cost of the illegal immigration contributes to additional analysis of the economy of the United States.

The country should consider legalizing the illegal immigrants with potential of contributing high tax, individuals with skills, and high net of the costs of public services. These immigrants will yield an increase the income of the United States leading to fast growth in the economy. However, illegal immigrants with low contribution to the economy slow down economic growth in a country (Passel & Cohn, 2008).

The United States considers both skilled and unskilled workers because the low skilled workers are high-income earners in jobs, such as cleaning services, construction, and food preparation. These jobs have high demand in the United States leading to relative high wages. The United States politicians should consider balancing the skilled and non-skilled workers to avoid labor shortage and to increase tax contribution into the economy.

The impact of illegal immigration in the United States is a challenge to the immigration policies associated with the economy, such as those with effects on the civil rights, national security or political life leading to obvious flaws. The increase in the number of illegal immigrants is a threat to the rule of law and weakens power of the government of the United States in enforcing regulations on the labor market.

Illegal migrants expose the United States to international terrorism because of large inflows of illegal people in the country. The government of the United States has to accomplish a successful debate on the reform of immigration policies through analyzing the benefits and costs of promoting illegal immigration (Camarota, 2004).

Demographics

Birth Estimates of Region and Country

Illegal immigrants are non-citizens crossing the borders into a foreign country without the permission of the government and leads to violation of the law of nationality. Ille3gal immigration arises when individuals enter the United States with temporary admissions and have prolonged the stay without departing for the territories of the country and other individuals fail to pass through examination that legalizes immigration

It is difficult to count the population of illegal immigrants, but estimates show that illegal immigrants contribute to about a third of the total population in the United States leading to an estimate of 12 million people. In 2008, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reported that about 50% of the illegal immigrants arrived in the country through temporary legalization but they extended their stay beyond the period stated in the visas.

Moreover, according to reports of CIS in 2009, 63% of all illegal immigrants entered the country in 2000 and Mexico had the highest percentage of illegal immigrants that year that estimates to 62% (Seminara, 2008).

Latino makes 75% of the total illegal immigrants whereby the majority that is 59% are from Mexico. The regions that contribute to the increase of illegal immigrants include South America with 7%, Middle East with 2%, Asia with 11%, Caribbean with 4%, and Central America with 11% estimates. This makes illegal immigration to contribute to more than 4% of the population of the United States. An estimation of two thirds of the illegal immigrants has been in the nation for less than 10 years.

According to the department of homeland security (2009), the number of illegal immigrants decreased in 2009 from 11.6 million in 2008 to 10.8 million in the United States. However, the population had grown by 27% between 2000 and 2009. In 2000, the population of illegal immigrants was 8.5 million but increased to 11.8 million by 2007.

This means that more than 470000 illegal immigrants entered the country at that time totaling to 3.3 million. Nevertheless, this estimate is difficult to enable conclusions on the trend of each year in the United States and may lead to serious sampling errors over time (Tavares, 2007).

In 2007, the estimates of population of illegal immigrants rage 11.9 million to 12.9 million people. The accuracy and reliability of the information estimates to 90% confidence interval creating a strong support that by the beginning of 2006, there were about 11.6 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Centers that deal with growth of illegal immigrants supported this estimates on the indication of estimates between 11.5 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States by the beginning of 2006. The Current Population Survey estimates about 11.1 million illegal immigrants by end of 2004 in the United States.

The census bureau estimates 9 million illegal immigrants, which is low comparing to the estimated number of 20 million people in the United States. Combination of surveys on the current population shows that an estimate of 9.3 million people are illegal immigrants as at 2002 and represent 26% of legal foreign immigrants in the country (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010). The chart below shows the estimates of illegal immigrants in the United States between 1969 and 2009.

Graph of Undocumented Immigrant Population Estimates.

Figure I: (Source: Graph of Undocumented Immigrant Population Estimates, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010)

Monthly Estimates of Increase in the Foreign-Born Population by Country.

Figure II: (Source: Monthly Estimates of Increase in the Foreign-Born Population by Country of Origin, Terrazas, 2009)

Estimate of Residence of the State

International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA) offers opportunities for illegal immigrants to acquire documentation of nationality in the United States. People from other countries entering the United States in 1992 acquired used the same procedure of IRCA applicants. This procedure of documentation applied also in 1988. However, the government recommended for improved methods of estimating the population in 1992 and 1996 that would reflect the patterns of the recent geographic settlements.

Entry Without Inspection (EWI) formed to determine the estimates of foreign immigration into the United States. This was essential to offer temporary permission and data of the foreign immigrants distributing in the country and prolonging overstays. This led to distribution of foreign immigrants in groups in the 1988-92 and 1992-96 according to the period of overstay in the country in the 1986 to 1989 (Tavares, 2007).

The EWIs used INS statistics to determine the number of foreign immigrants in the early 1990s and those that had legalized into the country under IRCA. This survey led to evaluation and analysis of the geographic concentration patterns of the illegal immigrants in the United States. California had the highest number of illegal immigrants totaling to 2.0 million making up 40% of the total number of illegal immigrants in the United States.

Other states of residence included the Illinois with 290000, Arizona with 115000, Texas with 700000, New Jersey, and New York with 540000 estimates of the population. This seven states accounted for approximately 83% of the population of illegal immigrants in the United States in 1996 (Warren, 1994).

Undocumented Immigrants.

Figure III: (Source: Undocumented Immigrants 1996, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010)

The legalization of IRCA program in 1988 led to an increase of approximately 100000 of illegal immigrants in California each year. This contributed to the population increasing to 83% in the seven states.

Massachusetts became a challenge too with increase of illegal immigrants annually with 6000 compared to other remaining 43 states that had less than 3000 illegal immigrants each year. In most of the states approximately 23 states, the population grew by approximately 1000 annually (Smith, 1996). The table below shows the estimates of illegal immigrants according to the country of origin and the state of residence.

Country of origin State of residence
All countries with 5,000,000 All states with 5,000,000
El Salvador 335,000 Texas 700,000
Mexico 2, 700,000 California 2,000,000
Canada 120000 Florida 350000
Guatemala 165000 New York 540000
Haiti 105000 Illinois 290000
Trinidad and Tobago 50000 Michigan 37000
Philippines 95000 New Jersey 135000
Poland 70000 Washington 52000
Ecuador 550000 Maryland 44000
Honduras 90000 Arizona 115000
Colombia 65000 Colorado 45000
Dominic republic 75000 Massachusetts 85000
Jamaica 50000 Pennsylvania 37000
Nicaragua 70000 Virginia 55000
Pakistan 41000 New Mexico 37000
Portugal 27000 Nevada 24000
Korea 30000 District of Columbia 30000
India 33000 Oregon 33000
Peru 30000 Connecticut 29000
Ireland 30000 Georgia 32000
Other 764000 Other 330000

Figure IV: (Source: Estimates Of Unauthorized Immigrants Population Residing in The United States, Warren, 1994)

History of Illegal Immigration in the United States

According to US Department of Homeland Security (2009), the government began making attempts of dealing with the problem of increase in the number of illegal immigrants into the united sates in the end of the twentieth century through enforcing laws that discouraged illegal immigration. Therefore, history of illegal immigration dates back to hundred years ago in the late nineteenth century.

The government enforced a federal law in 1875 to create barriers to entry illegal immigration in the United States, especially of prostitutes and convicts. In 1982, Chester A. Arthur, the president of United States at that time forbade almost all Chinese from entering the United States. He also banned entry of criminals, mentally ill, and paupers into the country. Although this created little difference to the population of illegal immigration into the United States, it helped differentiate illegal and legal immigration in the country.

He created regulation of entry of the Chinese population. In 1892, a new policy formed on examination of foreigners in the immigrants’ station in the New York known as Ellis Island. It required that new arrivals into the country go through tests on who they6 are, answer questions, medical checkups to be considered as a potential legal immigrant. By the time Ellis Island closed in 1954, 12 million people had legal documentation of nationality in the United States (Passel & Cohn, 2008).

Immigrants Landing at Ellis Island in 1910.

Figure V: (Source: Immigrants Landing at Ellis Island in 1910, GJENVICK-GJONVIK, 2000)

It estimates that before enforcement of this law, almost 23.5 million people from 1881 to 1920 entered the territories of the United States from all over the world. This stimulated the government to pass the Quota law that minimized the number of new immigrants from one country and the total number of new immigrants to 357000 in the United States. The number of new immigrants reduced to 160000 in 1954 and 157000 in 1929.

This showed the effectiveness of the law in minimizing this number leading to a reset of the origins of nationality in the census of 1920 in the United States. These laws targeted assimilating and maintaining the ethnic composition of the new immigrants, especially those from eastern and southern European countries who totaled to 15 million in the previous forty years. This led to a strong congressional debate on the problem of illegal immigration in the United States in the 1920s (Camarota, 2004).

The vice president of the federation of labor California, Edward H. Dowell mentioned to the senate committee on immigration in the United States that there was uncontrolled flow of Mexicans affecting the hospitals, prisons, wages of American workers, and taxpayers on the states. He estimated a total of legal immigration of Mexicans at 67000 annually into the United States. The Los Angeles Times reported that there was large number of illegal immigrants on most of the ranch workers in California Imperial Valley in 1926.

These workers failed to go through the tests required and did not pay the required entrance fee of $18. The government brought the issue of problems at the Mexico and Canada borders into consideration to the House Immigration Committee in 1929 in the United States. The government of the United States resisted the elimination of visa mill at Juarez that helped reduce connections of illegal immigration through providing visa for legal residency (Pokhrel, 2009).

The great depression led to a crash on the market share in 1929 stimulating the need for a decrease in the number of illegal immigration, especially Mexican immigration through enforcing strict rules on visa. The federal, state, and local government officials had to find a solution of eliminating the illegal immigrants already in the country. In 1929 to 1939, between 500000 to 1000000, the government deported illegal migrants from Mexico.

Hebert Hoover, the president of United Sates at that time ensured his administration maximized efforts to reach peak and extend the exercise all alien groups in the early 1930s. The president believed that aliens deprived American of jobs and had high illegal problems with the state.

Deporting them would be the ultimate solution to the problem. This exercise continued during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt as the president during the great depression. However, he exempted the Canadian and Mexicans in fear of them sneaking back to the country (Tavares, 2007).

Nevertheless, war broke in the 1940s leading to creation of chances of entry of illegal immigrants. This war created the foundation of large numbers of illegal immigration in the United States. The federal government had no other choice but to import Mexicans to overcome the problem of labor shortage in the country. This program for foreign workers became widely known as Braceros as the government imported foreign workers to the United States as illegal immigrants to the same employers they served.

This led to an increase the number of illegal immigration in the proceeding years in the name of temporary workers through the Bracero program (Calavita, 1992). These workers settled in Southwest to work in agriculture and had to go to their homeland after the harvests. More than 4.8 million Mexicans provided cheap labor in the country. However, this program received objections from Mexican Americans and unions for depriving Americans of jobs leading to its end in 1964.

Employers preferred the foreign workers because they demanded low wages violating the law that requires hiring of foreign workers only because of insufficient American workers. In 1950, the report of Los Angeles Times estimated 21000 national of Mexico in demonstration claiming mistreatment by patrolmen at the border.

Dwight D. EisenhoweR, as the president had to appoint General Joseph Swing as the head of Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1954 to deal with the problem of increasing number of illegal immigration that had rose to 1 million Mexicans, corruption on profits of illegal labor, and low wages of American workers. The operations involved 1075 patrol agents at the border returning millions of illegal aliens from Mexico.

By the end of 1950s, number of illegal immigration decreased by 95%. The pass of the Immigration Act in 1965 led to increased legal immigration with illegal immigration increasing at the same rate. Senator Edward Kennedy declined the support of this bill that allowed citizenship through family relations because of violation of the ethnicity of Americans and allowing large numbers of population in the country states.

This was a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment on the constitution that offers citizenship to those born in the soil of America. Ronald Reagan as the president accepted the method of acquiring citizenship. However, this created document fraud leading to excess legalization of illegal aliens. In 1986, IRCA was unable to control entry of illegal immigrants raising the number in millions because the politicians failed to enforce laws against the employers in the United States (Seminara, 2008).

President Bill Clinton made efforts to reduce illegal immigration in the 1990s but the situation did not change. The government of the United States passed immigrant responsibility act and illegal immigration reform of 1996.

Leaders from Caribbean and Central America nations’ enjoyed untaxed transferable from the United States and become worried during the period of Clinton as the president that the benefits would end. Before the period of Clinton ended, there were approximately 7 million illegal immigrants in the United States (Pokhrel, 2009).

President George W. Bush in his eight years of operations supported the legalization of illegal immigrants. He ensured that the illegal immigrants had low enforcements. This led to drop in the arrest of illegal immigrants from 3000 in 1999 to 445 in 2003 and the criminal cases reported by employers decreased from 182 to four. By 2005, there were approximately 10-20 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

The Washington post recorded a number of 92 criminals among 6 million businesses and more than 7 million illegal foreign workers (Marshall, 2007). The Bush administration pushed through with the plans of legalizing illegal immigrants despite the opposition, past problems, and increase in the number of illegal immigrants in the United States. He supported the fact that the Americans were selective in the jobs they do that the illegal immigrants were ready to do.

A Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act 2007 received opposition in the government leading to its failure passing. The Americans oppose legalization of illegal immigrants because of the serious negative effects they have on the country, such as overcrowded schools, bankrupted hospitals, and increased crime (Tavares, 2007).

Taxpayers incur additional costs because of the cheap labor provided to employers and politicians who have undermined the immigration laws. For example in California the costs of taxpayers because of illegal immigrants is about $9 million each year. The Americans are against these steps by the government but the advocates of open borders keep on pressuring President Barrack Obama to allow the illegal immigrants to enter the country.

The debates vary from the overpopulation, sovereign, fiscal costs, and illegality. The open border advocates used excuses through amnesty euphemisms, such as “pathway to citizenship”, “comprehensive immigration reform”, “temporary worker plan”, “guest”, “undocumented immigrants”, and “out of the shadows” (Nuñez-Neto, & Viña, 2006). They claim it is difficult to depot more than 12 million people and the only possible solution to these problems is providing them with citizenship.

However, there are cost effective and humane ways to resolve the problem of increased numbers of illegal immigration in the United States without resulting to mass amnesty or deportation. This is through “attrition through enforcement” where the jobs available for the illegal immigrants are cut off by enforced laws forcing the illegal immigrants to return to their native countries over time. Real immigration reform groups, such as ALIPAC and NumbersUSA endorse this middle ground strategy (National Immigration Law Center (NILC), 2006).

Immigration Policy in the United States

According to Calavita (1992), immigration in the United States began as non United States citizens entered the country. Immigration is a major problem in the history of the United States. Immigration into the country was difficult because of crossing oceans and racial prejudices in the United States and this made acquiring citizenship complex. The United States has the highest acceptance of legal immigrants in the world as at today.

The immigration process requires procedures where an individual is to have a visa to the United States. Visa classifies to fit different activities in the country. For example, the tourist visa is for people travelling on vacation. People entering the United States with tourist visa that is valid have the ability to change to their status to temporary workers or permanent residents (Pokhrel, 2009).

The individual after transferring the visa to a permanent resident becomes eligible to obtaining a Green Card. A person proves to have changed status to a permanent residence through a Green Card. After getting a Green Card, an individual has the right to work and live in the United States. Permanent residents can apply full citizenship after a certain period. Other forms of gaining status of permanent residence are through marriage or work to a citizen of the country.

Once a person gains the full citizenship of the United States, he or she has rights equal to a native citizen of the country. The qualifications for this status include ability to speak English, pass on the test of a citizen of the United States, and have positive judgment over America. However, the government depots people from the United States to their native countries if not successful in obtaining full citizenship. Deportation occurs because of many reasons.

An individual should ensure the proper documentation and approval before migrating into the United States because inappropriate paperwork leads to deportation. Another major cause of deportation is committing crimes while still with a Green Card or visa making knowledge on laws important for foreigners in the United States (Martin, 2006). The graph below summarizes the immigration policies in the United States.

Obtaining Permanent Resident Status and Key Immigration Legislation.

Figure VI: (Source: Obtaining Permanent Resident Status and Key Immigration Legislation, Terrazas, 2009)

Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Economy of the United States

Labor contributes to production a key factor of economy. Labor determines the success of a countries economy in the international trade. However, the factor of production cannot be effective in the issue of illegal immigration because this brings imbalance in the international labor or assume mobility in a perfect labor of which none of these assumptions is true. The minimum wages in the United States relate to immigration of people into the country.

The reason for the cheap labor is reduced experience on the labor market, unskilled workers, and direct discrimination by the employer. The minimum but high wages are for jobs that even the Americans can do. The United States has established minimum wages stimulating the need for employers to create illegal markets for jobs attracting many people to migrate into the country (Borjas, 2003).

The former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo and the current director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization identified that the United States s in need of migrant workers and the government should focus on accepting the situation in the country. Professor of Political Science and International studies, Peter Andreas at Brown University confirms that the United States is in high demand for labor.

He adds that this high demand for cheap labor leads to high illegal immigration in the United States. This is supported by the high number of illegal immigrants in the United States totaling to about 11 million in 2006 (Hoefer, Rytina, &Baker, 2008). The Pew Hispanic Center survey shows that there was an increase of 11.9 million illegal immigrants from 1990 to 2006 and 1.1 million undercounted people in the estimates published of people who had dropped during recession (Passel & Cohn, 2009).

A change was identifiable when the number of illegal immigrants decreased below that of the legal immigrant residents in 2008. This decrease continued to 2010. This means the largest number of illegal immigrants in the United States was between 2000 and 2007 and this because of the high demand for cheap labor in the construction sector because of growth in the market of real estates.

The number of illegal immigrants decreased when the economic conditions slowed down in 2007. The Current Population Survey (CPS) with the support of the Census Bureau confirmed that there was a decline of illegal immigrants in the United States between 2008 and 2011. The decrease was by 14% after the number of illegal immigrants in the country reached peak in 2007. The decrease was because of the United States enforcement and the country’s economy.

There were larger number of immigrants going home and few immigrants entering the country. The department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates an increase of 3.3 million illegal immigrants between 2000 and 2007. The DHS added that estimates of a decline by 180000 occurred between 2007 and 2008 (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010). The government’s efforts in enforcing immigration laws in the future and stabilizing the economy of the country determine if the existing trend will continue.

The congress considered legalizing illegal immigrants because there was an increase in the number of illegal population in 2007. However, this law did not pass leading to many of the illegal immigrants returning to their native countries. The employers presented the undocumented employees through the local enforcement agencies.

The employers received threats of high fine charges on identification of illegal immigrants in their jobs. The Americans experienced high unemployment rates forcing the government to order for return of illegal immigrants to their native homes. When the economic conditions have grown fast, there are high chances that the number of illegal immigration will raise (Marshall, 2007).

Conclusion

Illegal immigration is a problem to the United States and the rest of the world today. Other terms used on illegal immigrants are undocumented alien, illegal alien, unauthorized migrant, undocumented worker, or migrant. Illegal immigrants can result from overstaying in a country even after the visa or documented permits have expired. People choose to migrate in foreign countries in search of jobs, economic, or political reasons.

People tend to migrate to countries with advanced technologies, high opportunities, and many resources. Other people are in search of good life for themselves and the family. To become a legal immigrant one must go through a procedure to of application for the documentation. This documentation is for people above the age of 18 years. Failure to follow the proper documentation leads to cases of deportation.

The illegal immigrants in the United States arte employed to provide cheap labor. Most of the illegal immigrants in the United States come from Mexico. A foreigner can obtain permanent status of residence in the United States through married, examination, or the Green Card.

The person with legal documentation as a permanent residence enjoys the same rights as the native citizens. In the history of illegal immigration, the government of the United States is putting effort to ensure control of the number of illegal immigrants to stabilize the economy.

Theory of economics identifies that illegal immigration has both negative and positive effects on the economy of the United States. There are sequence of debates by the public and the government on the need to regulate the number of illegal immigration in the United States. The laws enforced on immigration target the reduction of medical benefits, job enforcement, denial of medical assistance, and welfare reduction to discourage the increase in the number of illegal immigration in the United States.

The changes in the economy of the United States determine the number of illegal immigrants in the country. During the great depression, the number of illegal immigrants decreased because the government wanted to provide Americans with jobs and to reduce additional costs by taxpayers on the maintenance of the illegal immigration in the country.

The immigration reform and control act of 1986 had to increase the mechanism of legal inflow of low skilled labor. The businesses created pressure on the government to redirect the IRCA in enforcing the provisions of rights of illegal immigrants. The businesses in the united are in need of cheap labor to reduce the costs of production to ensure affordable prices of products or services to customers and to maximize profits of the businesses.

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