Leaky Borders; Immigration And America’s Future Essay, Research Paper
Immigration & America’s Future
Since the creation of mankind, our world has undergone many revolutionary changes. One of the more recent (20th century) changes has been a decline in the death rates around the world, led by the emergence of modern medicine and the practice of better farming methods. This was a great human achievement, but we cut the death rate without cutting the birth rate. Now population is soaring, and while human population has always moved to fresh lands, for the first time in human history, there are none, no new continents. What does this mean to the United States? Immigration! Immigration can be a healthy process for the world well as a positive asset to the U.S.; however, if poorly regulated, immigration will lead to a structural imbalance in our society, an economic nightmare and to a cultural disaster for our children .
There were about one billion people living in the world when the Statue of Liberty was built. There are 4.5 billion today (Encarta, 1998). World population is growing at an enormous rate with no end in sight. The world is going to add a billion people in the next eleven years—– 224,000 every day—— and experts say there will be at least 1.65 billion more people living in the world in the next twenty years (Lieber, 1996). We must understand how this will impact our country.
Eighty-eight percent of the world’s population growth takes place in the Third World (Brinkerhoff,
White, & Reidmann, 1997). A growing number of these poorly paid Third World citizens want to come to the United States. In the 1970s, all other countries that accept immigrants started controlling the number of people they would allow into their countries. The United States did not (Lieber, 1996). This means that the huge numbers of immigrants who are turned down elsewhere have turned to the United States. The number of immigrants is staggering. The threat they represent is a nightmare.
At this point in history, American immigration policies are in a mess. More than 1 million people are entering the U.S. legally every year (Brinkerhoff, White, & Reidmann, 1997). From 1983 through 1992, 8.7 million of these newcomers arrived —the highest number in any 10-year period since 1910 (Lieber, 1996). A record, 1.8 million were granted permanent residence in 1991, many of whom sought asylum(McClellan, 1993). Until a few years ago, immigrants seeking asylum were rare. In 1975, a total of 200 applications were received in the U.S. Suddenly, asylum is the plea of choice in the U.S., and around the world. U.S. applications were up to 103,000 last year, and the backlog tops 300,000 cases (McClellan, 1993). Under the present asylum rules, practically anyone who declares that he or she is fleeing political oppression has a good chance to enter the U.S.
Chinese are almost always admitted, many claiming that China’s birth-control policies have limited the number of children they can have (McClellan, 1993). Because present law stresses family unification, these arrivals can bring over their spouses, sons and daughters; some 3.5 million are now in line to come in (Encarta, 1998). Once here, they can bring in their direct relatives. As a result, there exists no visible limit to the number of legal entries. These people look to the United States. Right now, once aliens enter the U.S., it is almost impossible to deport them, even if they have no valid documents. Thousands of those who enter illegally request asylum only if they are caught (Lieber, 1996). The review process can take 10 years or more, and applicants often simply disappear while it is under way. Asylum cases are piling up faster than they can be cleared, with the Immigration and Naturalization Service falling farther behind every year. Doris Meissner, Clinton’s nominee as commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Services, conceded, ”The asylum system is broken, and we need to fix it.” (Lieber, 1996) The sad fact is that these numbers do not even reflect the masses of illegal immigrants that flood the borders of the United States every year.
In 1990, an estimated four million illegal aliens in the United States, and about 55 percent of them were from Mexico (Lieber, 1996). Our borders are totally out of control. Our border patrol arrests 3000 illegal immigrants per day, or 1.2 million per year, and Two illegal immigrants get in for every one caught. And those caught just try again (Lieber, 1996). The United States is no longer an empty continent. In 1886, there were 58 million people in the United States. In 1984 there were 240 million people; (Encarta, 1998) that is four times the total population in less then a century. Adding the numbers of legal and illegal immigrants, 50 percent of all U.S. population growth comes from immigration (Encarta, 1998). The U.S. cannot and should not be the home of last resort for all of the world’s poor. We are not doing a good job with our own poor, which puts us in no position to fix the rest of the world’s poverty stricken.
Supporters of immigration use many arguments to support their side. Let’s look at a few of these arguments: Illegal immigrants take jobs no Americans want. The fact is that the average illegal immigrant arrested in Denver, Colorado, made more than seven dollars an hour. Many were making over 100 dollars per day. Denver identified 43 illegal aliens making 100 dollars per day as roofers, while 438 people were registered in their employment services who would have loved those jobs (Lieber, 1996). The average illegal immigrant arrested in Chicago makes $5.65 an hour. More than thirty million American workers make less than that (Lieber, 1996). A common belief is that aliens fulfill many of the least desirable jobs. However, most experts agree that in today’s economy, there is no shortage of Americans competing for many of these same jobs (Lieber, 1996). Actually, many Americans already work in these low-paying jobs. For example, a poor single mother, who works as a seamstress, was asked by her boss to train a new employee, an illegal immigrant. As soon as she finished
training this person, she was fired. Her position, of course, went to the illegal immigrant, who was willing to work for less pay, and under deplorable working conditions. This is one example of how illegal workers depress wages, and prevent unionization or improvements to working conditions.
The International Labor organization projects a twenty-year increase of 600 to 700 million people who will be seeking jobs. More than a billion people today are paid about 150 dollars a year, which is less than the average American earns in a week. Latin America’s population is now 390 million people. It will be 800 million in the year 2025 (McClellan, 1993). Mexico’s population has tripled since the Second World War and 1/3 of the population of Mexico is under ten years of age. As a result, in just ten years, Mexico’s unemployment rate will increase 30 percent, as these children become young adults, in search of work (McClellan, 1993).
Another claim by supporters of immigration is that illegal immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and do not go on welfare. The sad truth is that these folks seem to learn the ropes of the welfare system with incredible speed. Today, illegal immigrants apply for and receive benefits from the government that citizens need. According to Donald L. Huddle, an economist at Rice University in Texas, legal and illegal immigrants cost the nation a net 42.5 billion dollars in 1992 (McClellan, 1993). The Huddle study also found that in 1992, more than 2 million Americans were displaced from their jobs by illegal immigrants. This resulted in an additional 11.9 billion dollars in public assistance (McClellan, 1993).
In California alone, they cost more than 18 billion dollars a year (Lieber, 1996). California currently has an estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants now attending grades’ 0-12 (Lieber, 1996). This will costs the California tax payers an estimated 1.5 billion dollars. This is 10 percent of the students currently enrolled in our elementary schools today (Bender & Leone, 1990)! California has 49.8 percent of the countries illegal aliens (Lieber, 1996); therefore, California pays multiple costs for its leaky borders. Providing health care for illegal immigrants costs California taxpayers 400 million dollars annually. Illegals drain about two billion dollars a year for incarceration, schooling and Medicaid from the budgets of such states as Texas, Florida and California (Lieber, 1996). For California alone, a 1993 study by the California Legislature estimates criminal justice costs involving illegal immigrants to be 385 million dollars to the state, with an additional 112 million dollars to local or county government. This is a total cost of 497 million dollars (Lieber, 1996), paid by the California taxpayer, each and every year!
Illinois did a study showing that it paid 66 million dollars in unemployment benefits to illegal
immigrants in one year, despite a law that was supposed to stop illegal immigrants from getting unemployment benefits. Los Angeles estimates that it spends 269 million dollars in social services on illegal immigrants each
year (Bender & Leone, 1990). Every person added to our population drains our natural resources and contributes to the destruction of our environment.
In a Pulitzer-Prize-winning study, the Des Moines Register found that for every person added to our population, 1.5 acres of the richest farm land goes out of production to make way for new houses, roads, and
shopping centers (Bender & Leone, 1990). How can the United States continue to feed the hungry people of the world? For years now, the battle has raged between the federal authorities who are supposed to control the borders and the states who pay the price if they fail. The national majority now says it favors cutting back on legal immigration (Lieber, 1996).
In an attempt to reduce illegal immigration, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, has introduced a bill that would establish an annual limit of 300,000 newcomers, including ”immediate relatives,” and a national identification card (Lieber, 1996). Congress passed legislation in 1986 that stipulates fines and other penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. The bill includes provisions to grant amnesty to illegal aliens who were in the United States prior to January 1, 1982, and to aid farmers who have relied on illegal aliens to harvest their crops.
Does anyone benefit from the rising tide of illegal immigration? Businesses that can profit from employing illegals at low wages do. And many illegals are better off here than in their own countries. But many others are taken advantage of by dishonest employers and are treated like slaves. These immigrants are denied the rights and privileges we want every person in the United States to enjoy.
In closing, we must all realize this issue will not go away. We are taking in more people than all of the rest of the world combined. If immigration rates continue to be this high, more than seventy million people will be added to the United States population in just fifty years (Bender & Leone, 1990). We will have to think and decide with great care what our policy should be toward immigration. While Americans try to have smaller families, immigration threatens almost every facet of our nation. Other generations of Americans made great sacrifices so that we today can enjoy the freedom, the quality of life, and the standard of living that we have. When I think of what uncontrolled immigration will do to the dreams of my parents and grandparents, what it will mean to the future of my children, I realize that we must find a way to control immigration. As have all the other countries of the world, America needs to control its borders. As every house needs a door, so every country needs a border. And yet, our doors seem to be wide open. We are clearly losing control over our future, and our children will pay the price of uncontrolled immigration.
Bender, D., & Leone, B. (1990). Immigration-Opposing Viewpoints. Cambridge, Mass.: Dudley Press
Brinkerhoff, D. B., White, L. K., & Reidmann, A. C. (1997). Sociology (Fourth Edition). New York: Wadsworth
Lieber, Michaeal. (1994, September). Border Bash. U.S. News & World Report, 43-44
McClellan, G. S. (1993). Immigrants, Refugees, and U.S. Policy. New York: H. W. Wilson Company
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (1998) Immigration; Causes of 19th century immigration.