By Alvaro Alexander Bernat Müller
More than 11.1 million illegal immigrants and a maximum of 40 million legal immigrants are the reason why immigration has been such a debated topic in Europe and as well in the U.S. Not only in the past, but also this last decade. The economic crisis that started in 2005 and that is now fading away is the main reason why politicians, economists, and regular citizens have been focusing more in immigration policies than in anything else.
Not only that, but the issue of unemployment has always been directly related to immigration, is it really? It is a fact, immigration is happening everywhere, every developed country by now has had to deal with it, either negatively or positively. Let’s move on and look at both sides in this debate.
Immigration is an enrichment, but it has to be controlled and the integration has to be organized
On the one hand we have the people who see illegal immigration and immigration in general as something negative, that will only bring harm to the United States. These people support strict immigration policies such as restrictions, an impenetrable wall that will separate Mexico from the United States, and even mass deportation. On the other hand we have the pro immigration supporters, who believe that it is morally, economically and politically right to open our borders to people in need, or people who want to become a citizen of a country full of opportunities that originally is made up of immigrants.
Let’s first read the famous quote by Emma Lazarus in ‘The New Colossus’, which will show the thesis of this essay: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” This is the sentence that encouraged people from all over the world to come to the U.S., the land that was and is a representative of opportunity and freedom. Why push away people in need? Why make it so difficult to become a citizen? Why not let them fill the wheel of our economy? Anyone, no matter the color of their skin, their nationality, their gender, their language or their professional skill has the same right to become an American citizen.
Intercultural competence is demanded
Next up, arguments and rebuttals. The first argument in favor of immigration is multiculturalism. American culture as we know today was largely formed by the immigrants who came to the country in the early 20th century. Reaching back a bit further, American culture certainly changed a lot after the first European settlers set up shop at Jamestown in 1607. With the fusion of several cultures in America, the citizens now have better ideas and they also benefit from them.
For instance, there are several kinds of food available due to multiculturalism like Chinese food and tacos. Moreover, there are different sports that other cultures brought from their countries. Soccer originated from Europe, with hockey coming from Canada. But there are more benefits other than entertainment and gastronomy. It creates national unity. Cultural conflicts and hate usually cause a divide within a nation. However, cooperation, inclusion and respect assist in uniting a country.
Multiculturalism therefore strengthens a country, especially if there are programs that work towards promoting cultural understanding and eliminating racism. It also encourages all people to take part in the economic, political and social life of the society.
For the second bullet point, it will be explained how immigrants increase enormously our national birthrate. According to U.S. federal-government data released in March 2011, births fell four percent from 2007 to 2009. Births have declined for three consecutive years, and are now seven percent below the 2007 peak. This drop has continued through 2010, according to data released by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics in June 2011.
Economic benefits are stronger than the negative impact
Experts have suggested that this decline is a reflection of unfavorable economic conditions. The connection between birth rate and economic conditions stems from the fact that US birth rates have fallen to levels comparable to those during the Great Depression during the 1930s. A state-level look at fertility, based on a report published by the Pew Research Center in October 2011, points out the strong correlation between lower birth rates and economic distress. Here is where immigrants are important. Foreign-born Americans and their descendants have been the main driver of U.S. population growth, as well as of national racial and ethnic change, since passage of the 1965 law that rewrote national immigration policy.
They also will be the central force in U.S. population growth and change over the next 50 years. If no immigrants had entered the country after 1965, when the U.S. population numbered 193 million, the nation’s population still would have grown—to 252 million people by 2015, rather than 324 million. The population would have grown by less than half as much as it actually did.
In the last argument pro-immigration, it will be explained how immigrant workers and students that come into the U.S. raise the bar of education and provide high skilled labor. The direct modes of entry to the United States for these high skilled laborers and students include employer-sponsored green cards and temporary work visas. In addition, many immigrants join the high-skill workforce indirectly after gaining admission to the United States through student visas or family reunification visas. Among high-skilled professionals, the foreign-born are more likely to have an advanced degree than their native counterparts. Furthermore, immigrants appear to raise labor productivity and create jobs for natives in several industries.
With the international demand for high-skilled foreign talent on the rise, the authors urge legislators to rethink immigration policies as not to jeopardize future flows. Now that you know about some of the arguments in favor of immigration, let’s reinforce the thesis of this essay by rebutting some of the most common anti immigration arguments.
Immigrants abuse our welfare system. According to what I found in multiple web pages, the programs provided by the welfare system vary in eligibility requirements and are provided by various organizations on a federal, state, local and private level. They help to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare and money to U.S. citizens through primary and secondary education, subsidies of college education, unemployment disability insurance, subsidies for eligible low-wage workers, subsidies for housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, pensions for eligible persons and health insurance programs that cover public employees. So most of the welfare goes to U.S. citizens, and because immigrants that have a Unites States citizenship have to pay the same taxes as a native born, this argument makes no sense unless it has a racist approach.
Some people that support this argument might not be worried by the legal immigrants, but by the illegal immigrants. Well the money that goes to illegal immigrants is used to feed, educate and sometimes shelter people without resources. These three things are a human right. If the government doesn’t give them those basic needs, they would be legally and morally violating those rights.
Racism is raising, but the arguments are poor
Another well known sentence heard from anti immigrants is: ‘Immigrants take our jobs’ most economists and other experts say there’s little to support the claim. Study after study has shown that immigrants grow the economy, expanding demand for goods and services that the foreign-born workers and their families consume, and thereby creating jobs. One study showed that immigration also has a positive effect on high-school graduation rates of native-born Americans. The theory here is that if you’re afraid of immigrants competing with you for low-skilled jobs, you’re more likely to work harder in school in order to avoid having to get a low-skilled job to begin with. There’s also data suggesting that immigrants increase employment opportunities for skilled women by offering a relatively cheap childcare option, as shown in one of our videos. Immigrant act as a filler for the U.S. economy, just like Ben Powell explained in the video “Immigration Myths”.
To wrap up this immigration debate essay, the conclusion is that immigrants, no matter what their professional skill is, are a big boost to our economy, our multiculturalism, and improve the image we give to other countries. Before this essay is finished, what do we do with the undocumented workers right now? What shouldn’t be done is mass deportation, that is clear. What should be done instead is to give these workers a easy way to gain citizenship. Before they reach citizenship, they will be given a temporary visa that allows them to work legally. This will give these people what they so desire, an opportunity. It is not a Utopia, it is something real and possible.
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists” —Franklin D. Roosevelt