My newest article in The Tech.
Opinion: Illegal Immigration: It’s Illegal
January 13, 2010
Blue hats are blue. Big trees are big. Do you agree with these statements? How about this one: Illegal immigration is illegal. For some reason, this point has been a contentious issue in the United States over the past few years.
Some argue that allowing illegal immigrants into our country helps our economy. Others contend that illegal immigration takes place because legal immigration is simply too inconvenient. Many point out that all people deserve to have a great life in America; everyone should enjoy our liberties and freedoms, especially when illegals often flee to America from oppressive regimes. Illegals are humans, and we need to be compassionate toward their needs. But the fact remains: Illegal immigration is illegal. And by “illegal,” I mean “against the law.”
Of course, all laws are not right or just. If a law is wrong, it should not be followed and people should fight to repeal it. But our immigration laws exist for very good reasons. They prevent criminals, carriers of infectious disease, and other dangerous individuals from crossing our borders.
The Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force concedes that “immigration has … played a major role in the rise and proliferation of Hispanic gangs in the region.” Many of their members are likely illegal immigrants, and while I don’t pretend that every one of these individuals would have been rooted out had they gone through the legal immigration processes, there is no denying that many would have been.
Moving beyond the crime statistics, allow me to address those who argue that illegal immigrants help our economy by taking jobs that no other Americans would want. In a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center, there were approximately 8.3 million illegals in the U.S. labor force in 2008. Also in 2008, the number of unemployed Americans jumped past 10 million. There is no doubt that many of those 10 million would be only too willing to take jobs they would have avoided under normal economic circumstances.
Unfortunately, many of those jobs were taken by people who should not even be in the country. In fact, a 1997 study by the American Academy of Sciences found that between 1980 and 1994, the cheap labor of illegal immigrants caused up to a 44 percent decrease in wages among the poorest legal citizens. Since then, the economy has only gotten worse and the unemployment rate has soared. How many of those ten million unemployed would be working if illegal immigrants had not taken the jobs? How many of millions or billions of dollars would American citizens be saved in unemployment benefits?
It makes no sense for taxpayers to pay for unemployment benefits because immigrants who are here illegally are taking jobs, leaving legal citizens unemployed. Not every job filled by an illegal immigrant would be taken if that person was not here, but a very large, very significant portion would be. And if even one more legal citizen is able to provide for his or her family because one less illegal immigrant came here, then it is absolutely worth it.
Some people argue that our immigration system is simply too cumbersome to expect people to follow it. But then murderers, robbers, and other criminals might have a similar attitude towards the law, and that’s no excuse. The vast majority of Americans came to the country through immigration long ago, and many did so risking their lives traveling across the Atlantic Ocean in boats that were crawling with disease. They did so through the long waits and difficult experience of Ellis Island.
They earned their places in American society. Any illegal immigrant who does otherwise is spitting on the graves of those who came here legally and those who perished in the effort. If people come to America to achieve the “American Dream,” the first step is to obey the law. I apologize if the immigration system is “cumbersome,” but Americans have every right to ensure that anyone entering this country is not a terrorist, criminal, or otherwise a threat to American society.
Many people say that we need to be compassionate towards illegal immigrants. I agree. We should be compassionate in our dealings with all types of criminals, but being compassionate and ignoring the law are two different things. Where is our compassion for all those legal citizens who are out of work because of illegal immigrants? How about all the families that have been torn apart by a death at the hand of an illegal immigrant? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2004, there were 6,181,000 traffic accidents that killed 42,636 and injured 2,788,000. If illegal immigrants are responsible for only 5 percent (and by some estimates even more), that is 309,050 accidents, 2,132 deaths, and 139,400 injuries.
In addition, illegal immigrants would be responsible for $11.5 billion of taxpayer money in associated costs. Advocates ask for compassion. How about compassion for the thousands that have lost their lives as a result of illegal immigrants? The fact that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick wants to allow illegals to get drivers licenses and attend college at an in-state tuition rate makes me sick. They should be deported, not rewarded, for their criminal acts.
One final argument is that the fee associated with immigration is too high and the test they have to take expects too much. But if coming to America is really worth it, then that money can be saved and the information necessary studied and learned. Therefore, there is no logical basis for arguing that illegal immigrants in this country should be treated as anything other than criminals. They are a risk to our national security, a risk to the welfare of our people, and an expensive cost to the taxpayers. I have a strong admiration for all those immigrants who had the strength of will to come to America seeking greater liberties and prosperity, and who did it legally to allow their new home to remain safe. Those who come to our country but are not willing to follow our laws are not worthy of admiration, only a ticket back to where they came from.