America has been a destination for immigrants for centuries. In fact, the entire American population is made up of people from different countries, with different cultures and social and economic backgrounds. Early immigrants moved to the United States (US) for various reasons which included political and religious freedom, but perhaps the most important reason; is the economic opportunity offered by the US (Ngai 26).
In recent times, the number of immigrants has gone up, some of them using illegal means to cross the US borders. Huge numbers of illegal immigrants come from the southern borders of the US and especially on the US-Mexico border and to the north; the US-Canada border. What constitutes an illegal immigrant or alien? The answer to this question will help in part to answer this topical question.
There are different categories of illegal aliens; first and foremost, an illegal alien is an undocumented or an unauthorized entrant to the United States territory. These nationals of other countries manage to enter the US borders, either by land, sea, or air, without prior inspection of their travel documents (visas and passports).
The second category is, people using fraudulent documents. The documents used might not be revealing the true identity of the person in question. People frequently use fraudulent documents to enter the US; some of them even go to the extent of impersonating other people to gain access. Some people just overstay, thereby violating the terms of their visas. Once the period of stay has expired, they are regarded as illegal aliens.
Last but not least, people may be regarded as illegal aliens if they willfully violate visa terms and conditions of stay; for instance, if they seek employment contrary to their reasons of going to the United States. There are laws aimed at fighting the issue of Illegal aliens; one of them under considerations is legalizing illegal aliens. This is a welcomed idea by the illegal aliens, but is it necessarily going to rid America of illegal aliens?
Or is it going to promote an influx of even more illegal entrants? America is currently home to over 10 million illegal aliens; this is almost half the population of some countries. So far the administration has been relying on the deportation system but this seems not to be effective, as people always find a loophole to get back.
The solution will be to give amnesty to the already existing illegal aliens and encouraging them to come forward and get documented, so that they can be integrated into the system (Conover 45-63). Background checks can be carried out; this will boost security and will allow them to contribute to the economy by paying taxes.
Economically, deportation proves to be an expensive exercise; deporting millions of people will require efforts of so many departments and thousands of staff. It would be of economic sense to explore simpler means of dealing with the issue; and legalization seems to be the best choice.
Furthermore, these aliens also contribute to the economy by working in various jobs. Most of them end up doing jobs that an American citizen would not consider doing; so in a way they complete the system (Yoshinda 56).
Those people, whose visas have expired, should be allowed to put in a formal request for renewal without fear of being arrested and deported. If this is encouraged, more illegal aliens will come out of hiding.
It is also important to note that, some of those people have married US citizens and have families; from a moral point of view, deportation will separate families, and break homes (Roth 109). This will lead to another set of problems. Legalization will also promote good working conditions.
Most illegal aliens work under poor conditions, get poor wages and have no avenues to air their grievances, as they are not part of any workers’ unions. This people are part of the driving force behind the American economic prowess; but they are treated poorly. If all of these millions of people are simultaneously removed from the US, there will be a surprising decline in the economy.
Concerns of the American people are perhaps that, legalization will further promote or encourage an increase in the number of entrants to America; causing an overflow of the population. Since 9/11, security has been an issue of priority to the US government; legalization of illegals might pose a potential security risk; as some of the people may be in the US with the agenda of causing harm (Krikorian 16-21).
Formulating new laws and systems will be strenuous and time consuming, therefore legalization seems to be the most suitable solution for this problem at this point; as further plans are made to deal with future illegal immigrations at the borders.
Legalization also poses an economic dilemma, removing all aliens will lead to economic decline; while retaining them will lead to many Americans losing their jobs as the aliens take over formal employment. Some of the aliens are doctors, engineers, pilots, but since they are illegal residents, they settle for small jobs.
Illegal immigrants by fact of their status do not have the benefit of enjoying a normal life. Some of the crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping go unreported to the police, because they fear being arrested for being ‘illegals’.
Some cases have also been reported, that illegal immigrants are detained at the point of entry for days with legal help accorded to them. This is a gross violation of fundamental right; they are just people like any other American and should be accorded their rights regardless of their status.
America is justified in carrying out whatever decisions they decide on this issue. They should also consider carefully the impacts of legalization and weigh them against other options. Whichever method is chosen, it should be humane and dignifying. It should however be noted that, there is not perfect way of dealing with illegal aliens.
Conover, Ted. Coyotes: A Journey across Borders with America’s Illegal Migrants. New York: Random House Inc., 1987. Print.
Krikorian, Mark. The New Case against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2008. Print.
Ngai, Mae. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004. Print.
Roth, Byron. The Perils of Diversity: Immigration and Human Nature. Augusta: Washington Summit Publishers, 2010. Print.
Yoshinda, Chisato. The Economics of Illegal Immigration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.