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Immigration by Mexicans into the US has led to a large demographic change in some States. While the US is made up of immigrants from countries all over the world, Mexico deserves special attention since it contributes to 30% of all immigrants making them the largest group of foreign-born immigrants (Jimenez, 2007). North Carolina has experienced an influx of people who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.
With a 400% increase in the Latino population between 1990 and 2000, the US Census Bureau has identified North Carolina as the state with the fastest growing Latino population (U.S. Census, 2001). At the onset, the influx of immigrants in North Carolina was necessitated by the labor demands of the State. However, this flow of immigrant has reached high levels and the citizens of the State are divided as to the value of Mexican Immigrants.
While supporters of the immigrants state that they provide valuable services to the State, opponents argue that these immigrants are responsible for a myriad of negative outcomes including increased violence and social insecurity. In light of these conflicting views, this paper will set out to conduct a research on Mexican immigrants in the US in order to illustrate that while they have both positive and negative aspects, the negative far outweigh the positive.
Negative Aspects of Mexican Immigrants
Mexican immigrants make the streets unsafe by engaging in practices such as drug dealing. Morris (2000) notes that “a disproportionate number of those charged with drug crimes are men of Hispanic descent” (p.116).
Mexico has established itself as the country that provides most of the illegal drugs that get into the US. The immigrant Mexicans play a significant role in this drug industry and Morris (2000) asserts that the amount of drugs entering the American boarders through Mexicans immigrants is overwhelming. This has negative and dire impacts on the American economy as well as the citizens themselves.
Drug traffic is suppressing other business from thriving while creating an environment that favors economic stress such as inflation. As a matter of fact, most of these drugs end up in the hands of the minority communities. These drugs are sold to the youth with negative consequences on their future lives. In addition to this, the volume of drug-related violence is on the rise due to Mexican immigrants.
Opponents of Mexican immigrants argue that this group poses additional strain to the social facilities provided to the country’s citizens. Specifically, Mexicans engage in habits that increase their chances of suffering from lifestyle diseases. Latino men consume alcohol at a rate that is significantly higher than that of men of other races in the US.
The CDC (2006) reports that 23% of Latino men engage in binge drinking which is the overconsumption of alcohol at single occasion. The percentage of Mexicans who smoke tobacco is also significantly high with the CDC (2006) reporting that 23% of Mexican men are smokers.
These habits are detrimental to the well being of the individual. Tobacco and alcohol use are the major causes of preventable deaths in the use with tobacco contributing 445,000 and alcohol use 85,000 deaths annually (Mokdad, 2004). These substances also lead to many negative health consequences. Critics of immigration argue that the Mexicans overburden the health care system since alcohol and tobacco uses have serious health consequences.
Mexican immigrants add a strain to the already burdened welfare system in the US. Most of the Mexicans are attracted to the US by the higher earning power that is available in the US. However, the cost of living in the US is much higher than in Mexico and many immigrants living in poverty.
Camarota (2001) observes that there is an overrepresentation of Mexican immigrants in the number of uninsured and poor Americans with 50% of the immigrants living in poverty and 33% of them having no health insurance. This group of immigrants ends up depending on the government because they experience job insecurity problems (Lacy, 2007). As such, the infiltration of Mexican immigrants into the country has greatly strained the social amenities meant for the native US citizens.
Mexicans immigrants are involved in high-level crimes and their presence therefore increases the security risk in the State. Due to the low levels of income and job insecurities experienced by many Mexican immigrants, the levels of crime in majority Mexican neighborhoods are high.
Further reinforcing the idea that Mexican’s are involved in criminal activity is the fact that Mexican immigrants are disproportionately represented in the list of most wanted criminals in the country (Jimenez 2007).This high rate of crime has led to the criminal justice department being involved with the Mexican population at a significantly high rate.
Perhaps the most significant issue with Mexican immigrants is that most of them enter into the US without authorization. Jimenez (2007) states that the large numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants has led to numerous policy debates about immigration. The problem of illegal Mexican immigration has led the US government to invest significant amounts of money to try mitigate the problem.
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For example, the government has established a Secure Border Initiative that is aimed at controlling the immigration problem by closing off all non-ports of entry used by Mexicans to come to the US. The government has deployed national guards to protect the border and employed more border patrol agents. The money required to carry out this deterrence exercises if provided by the taxpayers.
Mexican Immigrants have reduced the earning power of Americans especially in the non-skilled market. Most of the immigrants work in the state’s secondary labor market, most of them filling jobs in restaurants, construction, landscaping, and agriculture. The immigrants provide cheap labor due to the lack of professional skills.
The alternative population of Americans is quite educated which makes their labor a bit expensive compared to the Mexican immigrants. Odem and Lacy (2009) notes that Mexican workers are preferred by some employers since they are highly productive and willing to work for low wages. This trend lowers the wage rates and this is detrimental to the native-born labor force.
Positive Aspects of Mexican Immigrants
In spite of the many ills attributed to Mexican immigrants, the US gains enjoys some major benefits because of these group. Most notably, the Mexican immigrants have contributed to the growth of the economy (Griswold, 2012). As was previously noted, the major motivation for immigrating is to seek better job opportunities.
The immigrants take on jobs that the Americans cannot take and in addition to that, they are willing to work with a very low wage reward. This has boosted the US economy and has led to more production with the cheap and efficient labor that these immigrants provide.
By employing the unskilled immigrants, employers keep the cost of operation down hence enhancing productivity, which is an advantage to the US economy. The unskilled workers are mainly employed in the hospitality industry and transport. These are low-income jobs that locals are unwilling to take. The immigrants do not mind these kinds of jobs and hence they come in handy in such industries and the greater good is that the economy grows.
Mexicans immigrants contribute to the cultural diversity for which the US is well known. Most immigrants come to the US and continue to practice their cultures and traditions including taste in food and music.
This has a positive effect as more people are exposed to the cultural practices of Mexico. Jimenez (2007) observes that the huge influx of Mexican immigrants has “facilitated the entrance of Mexican popular culture into mainstream popular culture” (p.613). Mexican immigrants therefore contribute to the enrichment of the American culture.
Mexican immigrants contribute to the growth of the American economy by using their money to buy consumer goods that are taxed and pay rent for their houses.
Even though most immigrants move to the US with the hope of making money and sending it back to their mother country, the major portion of their money is used in the US. Lacy (2007) notes that the cost of living in the US is high and most immigrants end up sending very little money home. The immigrants therefore fuel economic growth by making money and using it in the US.
Discussion and Conclusion
Immigration is an important issue that has attracted the attention of most Americans. Mexican immigrants have been singled out due to their huge numbers in states such as North Carolina. Most Immigrants consider their presence in the US as temporary and they intend to move back to Mexico once they have saved up enough money. The major advantage of Mexican immigrants is the economic value that they add to the country.
Even so, the immigrants cause some significant negative social and economic outcomes during their stay in the US. For this reason, there has been a rise in anti-Mexican sentiments in most border line States and North Carolina. These sentiments have been fueled by the substantial financial and economic costs associated with Mexican immigrants. A solution therefore needs to be developed to deal with this problem that poses significant social and economic costs for the country.
This paper set out to discuss the merits and demerits of Mexican immigrants in the US. It began by noting that Mexico has provided the highest number of immigrants to the US. It then proceeded to outline some of the problems that arise because of immigrants in the State. These problems include high rates of crime and drug dealing, an overburden of the health care system, and increased load on the social welfare system in the US.
However, there are also advantages accrued from Mexican immigrants and this includes economic growth, and cultural diversity in the US. From this paper, it can be concluded that while Mexican immigration to the US has some positive results, it has mostly led to many serious problems. Policy makers therefore need to take action to mitigate the growing population of Mexican Immigrants in the US.
Camarota, S.A. (2001). Immigration from Mexico: Study Examines Costs and Benefits for the United States. Retrieved from: https://cis.org/Immigration-Mexico
Griswold, T.D. (2012). Introduction Is Immigration Good for America? Cato Journal, 32 (1), 1-4.
Jimenez, T. (2007). Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Mexican Immigration: The Mexican- American Perspective. Social Science Quarterly, 88(3), 599-618.
Lacy, E. (2007). Mexican immigrants in South Carolina: a Profile. Retrieved from: http://www.asph.sc.edu/cli/pdfs/final_final%5b1%5d.pdf
Mokdad, A. (2004). Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000. JAMA, 291(10), 1238-1245.
Morris, M. (2000). Translation and the Law. NY: John Benjamins Publishing.
Odem, E., & Lacy, C. (2009). Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South. Georgia: University of Georgia Press.
U.S. Census. (2001). United States census bureau interactive census database. Web.