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Illegal immigration in the United States has caused political, social, and economic repercussions and has elicited a raging debate in various circles. Millions of illegal immigrants flood the United States and threaten the rights of the US citizens.
Holzer argues that the broken immigration system has affected the United States immensely because it reduces security, lowers economic growth, undermines national values, and diminishes international image (9). Therefore, reformation of the system is necessary to curb millions of illegal immigrants from causing political, social, and economic problems in the United States.
The policy reform debate of immigration revolves around aspects such as the introduction of work permit, regulation of visas, offering amnesty, interior enforcement, helping immigrants to settle, and fixing border enforcement. Therefore, this paper seeks to examine policy reform debate of immigration in the United States with the objective of comparing and analyzing various views.
Comparative and Analysis
From the perspective of the social contract, the citizens of the United States have given authority to the government to protect them from external aggression and invasion by foreigners. In this case, illegal immigration is a form of social and economic aggression because it affects social and economic status of the natives.
Immigrant workers offer stiff competition to the native workers; hence, creating social and economic repercussions. Holtz posits, “Most analysts suggest that fiscal impacts of unskilled immigrants are mixed, perhaps generating a net drain on local public resources at federal and national levels” (8).
Therefore, introduction of working permit is critical for only legal immigrants to access jobs. Moreover, regulating visas and fixing border enforcement provide means of protecting the citizens from the impacts of immigrant workers.
In the perspective of classical liberalism, individuals have inalienable rights of freedom to operate within the regulations of liberalization. Classical liberalism postulates that employers have the freedom to employ workers irrespective of whether they have a work permit or not.
Moreover, immigrants should have rights to apply their knowledge and skills in various forms of employment so that they empower themselves economically.
DeLaet explains that liberal immigration policies have made “employer associations push for employment access for workers with particular occupational characteristics” (p.3). Hence, employers exercise their liberal freedom by employing and helping immigrants to settle in the United States.
The perspective of pluralism envisions that a diverse society is robust because it amasses the strengths of different races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures thus strengthening a nation. In this view, immigration offers a means through which the United States can accommodate diverse societies and consequently strengthen its diversity.
Since illegal immigrants have formed part of the United States’ population, the government seeks to permit “legalization for some of the 12 million or so unauthorized immigrations living in the United States” (Rosenblum 6). In addition to legalization, the government also wants to help immigrants settle and contribute to the development of the United States like other citizens.
Elitism is a social belief that is contrary to pluralism. Elites view immigration as an invasion by foreigners, who do not belong to the elites’ class. The immigration reforms associated with elites include fixing border enforcement, regulating visas, and interior enforcement to ensure that immigrants do not enter into the United States.
Moreover, elites are against reforms that allow legalization of illegal immigrants and provision of working permits because they believe that immigrants do not deserve equal rights as other legal citizens.
Holzer asserts that an increasing number of immigrants integrates into social and economic classes of the society hence, threatening the natives (p.2). Consequently, the elites suppress immigration reforms that favor the immigrants.
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Federalism supports decentralization of government powers from the federal government to state governments. Therefore, in the aspect of illegal immigrants, federalists’ view it as disadvantageous because federalism strengthens state governments politically, socially, and economically.
DeLaet asserts, “Because immigration policy preferences influence election outcomes in most cases, interest groups become particularly influential in the immigration policy debate” (p.3). Federalists do not want policy reforms that enhance immigration such as providing amnesty, helping immigrants to settle, removing of work permits, and provision of legal avenues for immigrants to gain entry to the United States.
Thus, federalists do not support increased immigration into the United States through various aspects of immigration reform.
Anti-federalist position is to let immigrants into the country since they have rights to become citizens of the United States. Anti-federalists perceive immigrants as a source of social, political, and economic benefits that is necessary to strengthen state governments. Law states that while federalists view democracy as an opportunity for mob rule, anti-federalists view it a way of uplifting the rights of people (55).
Anti-federalists recognize that immigration reforms should adhere to human rights and focus on the interest of states. Therefore, anti-federalists support immigration reforms in aspects such as assisting immigrants to settle, offering amnesty, and providing immigrants with work permit so that they can live humane lives.
Additionally, anti-federalists support provision of flexible regulations for immigrants to obtain visas and gain citizenship.
From the constitutional perspective, illegal immigrants violate the laws and regulations of immigration and thus deserve sentence. The constitution also stipulates how an immigrant should obtain a visa or citizenship through a legal process. Hence, in the aspect of visa and citizenship, constitution provides avenues through which immigrants can obtain visas or gain citizenship.
Swain argues, “Immigration and Nationality Amendments, which removed racial quotas for certain nations and increased the percentage of legal immigrants the nation would take in and the weight given to family reunification, allowed increased immigrants” (1). Hence, constitution has a significant impact in determining the number of immigrants in the United States.
The Bills of Rights equally protect immigrants and citizens in the United States. Immigrants have inalienable rights that protect them from undue treatment by the government or other citizens, which results into violation the basic human rights.
Since some immigrants are refugees and asylum seekers, the American government has a duty to protect and provide them with the freedom to enjoy the alienable rights as stipulated in the Bill of Rights.
Rosenblum asserts, “Border enforcement must be balanced by more systemic protection of the human and civil rights of immigrants and members of the border communities” (17). Protection of human and civil rights would ensure that immigrants receive human treatment during entry and their stay in the United States territory.
Solutions: the principle of compromise and consensus
Federal government should not employ stringent measures in curbing the problem of illegal immigration because immigrants have their inalienable rights. Before implementation of stringent measures such as an introduction of work permit, regulation of visas, fixing border enforcement, and interior enforcement, the federal government should provide amnesty and issue work permits to illegal immigrants who are already in the United States.
Swain asserts that the federal government has a duty to protect illegal immigrants by enabling them to settle and access job opportunities. Therefore, if the federal government can register illegal immigrants and provide them with work permits coupled with job opportunities, it will empower and protect them from exploitation.
From state perceptive, immigrants are beneficial because they bring significant changes in social, economic, and political aspects. A state with a diverse population promotes intercultural relationships thus eliminating racial and ethnical prejudices, which have clouded many states.
Moreover, a state that has more immigrants has substantial economic capacity and political power to influence decisions in the federal government. Since states allow illegal immigrants, they should exercise caution as immigrants pose significant economic challenges. Holzer states that immigrants increase the rate of unemployment because most of the immigrants belong to class of unskilled and semi-skilled employees.
Federal government should cooperate with state government in ensuring that immigrants in the United States use legal means to enter into the country. If the federal government does not secure borders and pass essential legislations that regulate the acquisition of visas and citizenship, then states cannot control the issuance of work permits and enforce interior checks.
Rosenblum points out, “The American political system is strongly biased against comprehensive legislation of any kind” (14) as opponents of visa and legalization reforms have managed to disrupt cooperative efforts of state and federal government. Therefore, federal government should endeavor to approach opponents of the comprehensive immigration reform and dialogue with the immigrants constructively.
Since illegal immigration is posing significant challenges to the United States, I propose that comprehensive immigration reforms should be implemented. Over the decades, different regimes have failed to address the issue of immigration completely.
DeLaet affirms that the immigration system “has not provided strong and effective measures to reduce illegal immigration; moreover, the system explicitly authorizes high levels of legal immigration” (1). Therefore, comprehensive immigration reforms should cover aspects such as an introduction of work permit, regulation of visas, interior enforcement, fixing border enforcement, provision of amnesty, and helping immigrants to settle.
The debate of immigration reforms in the United States is still raging because current reforms have not addressed issues associated with illegal immigration. The debate rages in the political arena, human rights circles, and among the citizens since illegal immigration has serious social, economic, and political impacts.
Comparative analysis of the immigration issue from various points of view shows that it is a complex issue, which requires a comprehensive approach to address it conclusively. Therefore, I propose that comprehensive reforms should address all aspects of immigration, viz. introduction of work permits, regulation of visas, interior enforcement, fixing border enforcement, provision of amnesty, and helping immigrants to settle.
DeLaet, Debra. U.S. immigration policy in an age of rights. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. Print.
Holzer, Harry. Immigration policy and less-skilled workers in the United States: Reflections on future direction for reform, 2012. Web. <http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/Holzer-January2011.pdf>
Law, Anna. The immigration battle in American Courts. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
Rosenblum, Marc. U.S. immigration policy since 9/11: Understanding the stalemate Over comprehensive immigration reform, 2011. Web. <http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/RMSG-post-9-11policy.pdf>
Swain, Carol. Debating immigration. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.