Push/ Pull – Are politicians exacerbating the impacts of illegal immigration?

Mark Anbinder and Connor Wielgos

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Connor Wielgos

Push

In today’s political climate, many politicians are quick to vilify illegal undocumented immigrants, blaming them for job loss, crime and exploitation of federal services. There are 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, with one side of the nation seeing them as undesirable and the other as innocent chasers of the American dream.

Illegal immigration is painted as a crisis, but the truly pressing problem with this nation is the broken political system surrounding illegal immigration. Rather than having policies that make sense for a truly globalized world, politicians have focused on creating a villain of a class of America that is already ingrained in our society. A wall on the southern border takes the center stage as virtually no attention is tied to the failure of our country to make legal immigration accessible.

During his nationally-televised address on Jan. 8, the president asserted that there was a “humanitarian crisis” regarding illegal immigration on the southern border. At best, characterizing the situation in this light is misleading and detracts from the actual issue. Border apprehensions have dropped from over 1.6 million in 2000 to just 400,000 in 2018, according to FactCheck.org. Most illegal immigration occurs through expired visas, putting the need for intensifying security on the southern border in question.

The solution to this problem would not be solved by buying into an “us vs. them” mentality. True progress can be found in the D.R.E.A.M. Act, a bipartisan bill that would make a path to legal citizenship easier, or D.A.C.A., which allows the children of undocumented children to become permanent citizens. Yet, politicians have continued to shift from a united view towards immigration in exchange for divisiveness.

America isn’t a country that can be represented with both a massive border wall and the Statue of Liberty. Our country has welcomed immigrants for centuries. Immigrants provide economic growth and social development that can’t be replicated. No other country should know that as well as the United States, which relied on immigrants to increase GDP, lower unemployment and finish infrastructure projects for the past century. The United States should pride itself on this fact, not try to reverse it. Our country is best when we help the impoverished seeking a better life, and both parties need to realize that.

America has had its fair share of mistakes when it comes to immigration. Whether it be the Chinese Exclusion Act,  literacy tests, or the decision to reject Jewish refugees from Europe as the Holocaust began, the U.S. has made crucial missteps on immigration that will forever haunt the legacy of our nation’s institutions.

One would expect a country to rise from its mistakes, not repeat them. The truth is, the vast majority of Americans came from immigrants looking for prosperity and freedom. They looked toward the promise etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” When it comes to immigration, we should strive to keep that promise rather than treating it as a relic of what we once used to be.


 

Mark Anbinder

Pull

Illegal immigration is a topic we’ve heard about in politics for quite some time. Whether it be calls for amnesty or calls for a border blockade, both parties can’t deny that there’s something to pick at out there. However, what both parties can’t seem to agree on is from which side to poke the beast.

With the ever so looming promise of a Great Wall of America floating around amidst a recent government shutdown, the public is torn between whether or not our current immigration problem is really a big enough deal to provoke such a severe federal response.

We shouldn’t be denying that illegal immigration is a national problem. According to the Department of Homeland Security, illegal immigrants make up between 3.4 to 3.7 percent of the total population, this is about 12 million people. However the numbers could possibly be higher as it is extremely difficult to count immigrants who leave no physical proof of entry.

Aliens entering the country without proper documentation are a much larger risk to the well being of the nation than those who were properly vetted before being granted a visa.  First off, one of the biggest reasons we have to document immigrants legally is so that we can make sure they aren’t bringing anything illegal or damaging into US society. Entry becomes problematic when it’s impossible to check for illegal substances or unlicensed weapons, among other potential dangers.

Additionally, if we are to continue to let immigrants come unchecked into our country, it will only contribute further to an imbalance of social status across America. Programs like US-VISIT and E-Verify, which check for documentation of an immigrant, make it very difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain higher paying jobs. As a result, most illegal immigrants, despite their skill level and education, will inevitably choose not to pursue higher skilled careers in this country for fear of being discovered, fired and potentially deported or detained.

Despite, possibly a better living standard in the US than their native country, immigrants will still widen the gap between the rich and poor by contributing to the latter. Due to their lack of proper opportunities and a much higher chance of striking an illegal labor deal with an employer, illegal immigrants take up lower paying jobs and more often than not, find themselves below the poverty line. Infact, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, about 17% of all immigrants live in poverty, including one in four Mexican immigrants, those numbers drastically increase when we account for illegal aliens.

More problems arise when we think about simply legalizing all that have entered. According to a report by the US Commision of Civil Rights, there is already a huge competition for low-skilled jobs. If many illegal immigrants become legalized, the competition for welfare programs, educational opportunities, jobs and low income housing will inflate greatly for both native and immigrant low-income workers. Not to mention how unfair legalization would be to those who have been deported or are currently seeking entry into the US.

Despite the recent negative press around securing the border, it’s important to understand that illegal immigration is no political puppet. While the issue may have become controversial in a time such as this, we need to make sure that we understand that illegal immigration isn’t something we should think of as one of many America’s ignorable flaws. We must treat it as a relevant and contemporary concern that goes beyond what is talked about on the news.

Extra evidence I cut out: Another notable issue is that we will see a large influx of unauthorized immigrants when the economy starts to shoot up. According to the Center for Migrant Studies, there is substantial evidence that the economic crash after 2007 saw a large decline in the amount of illegal entries. The study suggests that when the economy goes up, so does the number of unauthorized immigrants. This becomes a more current issue considering that our economy is currently growing at 4.1%, the fastest in four years.

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