Home Human Rights 6 Remarkable Pros and Cons of Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

6 Remarkable Pros and Cons of Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

Real-estate mogul Donald Trump makes the news for a variety of reasons, but his latest foray into the headlines cost him relationships with Univision, NBC and Macy’s.

Trump is running for president of the United States in the 2016 elections and his apparent way of wooing voters is by vilifying illegal immigrants. He called them rapists and drug criminals. Then again, this wasn’t the only time Trump has said words against undocumented immigrants.

In a March 25, 2015 interview with Iowa-based conservative podcast host Steve Deace, Trump referred to illegal immigrants as “destroying America”: “People are flowing into this country by the millions, not by the thousands, by the millions, and destroying the fabric of the country.”

Apparently, the man has been doing it for quite some time and it’s just now that people are taking notice.

As you can see, illegal immigration is such a conscientious topic – anywhere. But maybe most particularly significant in big nations like the US with thousands upon thousands of undocumented immigrants coming from not just close to their borders but from other countries as well.

In November 2014, US President Barack Obama announced that he will be granting temporary legal status and work permits for close to five million illegal immigrants. However, the deal is only applicable to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country for at least five years. It asks them to register, pass a background check and be granted a stay of deportation and a work permit valid for at least three years.

A lot, particularly Republicans, did not agree at all with the decision. For President Obama, the action was necessary to address the immigration issue in the US. In addition, Obama reached a decision as Republican lawmakers refused to pass an immigration bill that he favored.

The Senate – which is led by Democrats – passed a bill in 2013 that would grant long-term pathway to citizenship for most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in America.

The decision was not met with applause unlike the recent decision to legalize gay marriage across America. Even those who are immigration reform advocates didn’t quite like the decision as they felt more could be done. For Wilfredo Seda, a radio host and immigration activist from Lancaster, Pennsylvania: “This will impact less than half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living here right now. By ignoring that many people, we are still leaving most people in the shadows.”

So what are people in favor of and against with this amnesty for illegal immigrants?

List of Pros of Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

1. It helps contribute to the economy.
Illegal immigrants don’t contribute to the economy even if they work. That is because their pay isn’t taxed because they don’t have the legal right to work in the US. In essence, there are millions of dollars that goes unpaid in income taxes each year. With the amnesty program, unauthorized immigrants would be recognized and hence, their pay will be considered as legal income and can be taxed.

2. It can result in a stronger nation.
Illegal immigrants don’t feel as part of the nation because of their status. They are always left out in terms of benefits and such. By lifting them to legal status, they might be a bridge towards building a stronger America.

3. It gives people a second chance.
They may have committed a crime by coming to the US without consent, but amnestying them would allow them a new start – not in hiding anymore. As some say, when people are given a second chance, they can do great things.

List of Cons of Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

1. It encourages more illegal immigration.
In February 2015, Judge Andrew S Hannen rejected an argument raised by Texas in trying to establish legal standing. The state showed that the amnesty policies of President Obama would cause an increase of illegal residents and would also put a dent on state coffers as a result.

The state of Texas even included a written testimony from Karl Eschbach, a Harvard Ph.D. who was a former demographer for the state as well as an expert in racial demographic trends, ethnic health disparities and illegal immigration, but that didn’t even help their cause. Texas has been paying out close to $1.7 billion in the last two years in uncompensated health care associated with illegal residents.

In the testimony, Eschbach noted that amnesty policies “encourage those eligible [for it] to stay in the United States and incentivize other ineligible unauthorized immigrants to remain in the United States with the hope that they will be the beneficiaries of a future adjustment of status.” He added, “the effect of DACA and DAPA is to incentivize residents of other countries to come to the United States.”

This isn’t just speculation though, it has happened.

The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act is a legislative proposal for undocumented US immigrants that would grant them conditional residency and when they meet further qualification, permanent residency. In June 2012, Obama suspended enforcement action against Dreamers. Within three months, 150,000 teenagers and families from Central America crossed across the border.

2. It erases the fact that people broke the law.
While advocates do feel for the plight of those who want to hopefully better their lives by immigrating to the US, it also doesn’t change the fact that they broke immigration laws. Everything that has been proposed absolves unauthorized immigrants of their sins – basically, the slate is wiped clean.

With the latest amnesty for illegal immigrants, Obama has seemed to forget what he said in the past. For some time, he has pleaded for relief for the young ones who were unknowingly brought into the country by their parents. For the president, the children “often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license or a college scholarship.” The message at that time was: don’t blame the children for the faults of their parents. However, fast forward to 2014 and the policy Obama has put in place exempts the parents from their wrongdoing.

3. It is costly.
Let’s face it, not everyone who illegally migrate ends up being wealthy. Most of the time, they end up poor and employed in low-income jobs because of their status. Amnestying them would mean they would qualify for means-tested social programs. Data shows that 41% of net growth in the Medicaid population between 2011 and 2013 were made up of immigrants and their children. By legalizing millions more, programs such as Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers and food stamps will grow astoundingly.

Put simply, immigration policy in the US has increased the number of poor people living in the US dramatically.