Several candidates are prepping for the upcoming US presidential elections, and one of the key topics being addressed is illegal immigration. In an interview in College Station, Texas in 2014, former Florida governor Jeb Bush said that those who come to the US illegally are looking for opportunities to provide for their families which aren’t offered to them in their home countries. He adds, “Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family.”
Fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump released his immigration plan, and needless to say, not everyone felt it was appropriate. Ezra Klein of Vox wrote an article calling it “crueler than I expected.” Part of Trump’s strategy is to “inflict tremendous pain on vulnerable people, who have, in most cases, done nothing wrong.” Basically, it’s “…fundamentally an act of collective punishment. Most of these ideas punish legal immigrants for the actions of people coming here illegally.”
Current States of Affairs
While the majority of the world focuses on America, illegal immigration happens in other parts of the world as well. A Telegraph article highlighted that “The decision to impose prison sentences on illegal immigrants is a major shift in Government policy and shows the level of concern in Downing Street about the influx of foreigners coming to the UK.”
As mentioned, the UK is experiencing a rise in illegal immigrants. Since the start of June 2015, “more than 400 immigrants were found by British police hiding in vehicles or trains. As many as 148 are thought to have reached Britain on a single day in July,” according to the Telegraph.
In 2012, US President Barack Obama announced changes to deportation policies. It was a move that would see “up to 1.4 million children and young adults who are in the United States illegally” benefit from such a policy. In 2014, he announced new executive actions preventing the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants.
The American public overall doesn’t seem too keen on deporting everyone who is in the US illegally. A Pew Research Center survey which was conducted in May 2015 revealed that 72% of Americans believe that undocumented immigrants currently living in the US should be allowed to stay if they meet certain requirements.
While coming to a country under illegal means is definitely punishable by law, it also can’t be helped that certain ethical and moral issues crop up. For instance, why punish the children for the sins committed by the parents?
Whichever the case, there is renewed focus on immigration these days, particularly in the US which is headed for a presidential election. On that note, here’s a look at the arguments for those who are against and for illegal immigration.
List of Pros of Illegal Immigration
1. It provides people a way to improve their living conditions.
The neoclassical economic model of illegal immigration counts geographic proximity, border enforcement, probability and consequences of arrest, ease of illegal employment, and chances of future legal status as factors that govern the likelihood of “successful” illegal immigration. In this model, illegal workers find employment through the acceptance of lower wages compared to native-born workers, and often times accept wages that are below the minimum or are often “off-the-books.”
One of the issues raised in regards to illegal immigration is the job opportunities lost for native citizens. However, it is also highlighted that unskilled immigrant labor fills jobs that native-born citizens do not seek or want, regardless of the pay.
Poverty is also cited as a major issue in people fleeing their homeland. Interestingly, it is also noted that those who migrate illegally aren’t necessarily the poorest in their country. Most of the time, they have friends or family who are already in the destination country. Then again, studies have also shown that increases in poverty can increase the likelihood of illegal immigration.
Civil war or repression in a person’s country of origin may prompt them to want to leave. But in this case, there’s a chance for them to seek asylum when they reach their destination country. Asylum seekers aren’t considered illegal immigrants so as long as they are recognized as legitimate asylees by the destination state.
2. It provides an avenue for cheap labor.
Cheap labor has been cited as one of the main benefits of illegal immigration. As mentioned earlier, jobs like cleaning are mostly occupied by those who are not native citizens. It’s also believed that employing illegals makes the economy move smoothly since low-wage jobs can be easily filled up.
List of Cons of Illegal Immigration
1. Illegal immigrants expose themselves to being exploited.
Slavery was ended in the early 19th century, but the trend still continues to this day – although at reduced levels. People from Asia, Africa and Latin America are smuggled into the US and Canada. Sometimes, people are even kidnapped or tricked into slavery to work as laborers.
Prostitution is another big issue concerning illegal immigration as immigrants are forced into sexual slavery. Western Europe in particular is being confronted with problems related to sexual exploitation of illegal immigrants (particularly those from Eastern Europe) for the purpose of prostitution.
2. Those who choose to migrate illegally are risking death.
Every year, a number of deaths – ranging in the hundreds – are reported along the US-Mexico border, particularly with illegal immigrants. One of the factors cited as a cause is exposure to the deserts of the Southwest United States during the summer season. Other factors cited include heat stroke and dehydration.
Even worse, they may be subject to vigilante killings. In the first half of 2000, three immigrants were killed while seven were wounded in a showdown on the US side of the border.
While that may look grim, other illegal immigrants fall victim to intentional killings. For instance, on February 8, 2007, four gunmen opened fire on a truck which was carrying illegal immigrants in the Ironwood Forest National Monument.
3. Illegal immigrants take jobs away from citizens.
This is one of the major factors for those who are not very welcoming of illegal immigrants. Although Republicans see benefits from legalization of illegal migrants, a substantial percentage see a couple of downsides. According to Pew Research, 77% believe it encourages more people to come to the US illegally while 68% think it rewards illegal behavior. 68% believe that legalization would drain government services while 66% think it would cost US jobs.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.