America’s diverse culture has enabled it to become the most powerful nation in the world. The contributions by immigrants from all over the globe have blended together beautifully over the years. Thus, the latest controversy surrounding the inflow of illegal aliens may be a seminal moment for the country. In this debate, Americans must decide whether to stem the tide of new immigrants and, in effect, disenfranchise people living illegally in our country, or accommodate them. A major element of the discussion will likely give due consideration to the cost of our generous immigration policy.
In 2003, Homeland Security estimated that between eight and 20 million aliens were living illegally in the United States. The cost of providing education, health care and other services to them is more than $340 billion each year according to the National Research Council. Proponents of more flexible immigration laws and citizenship for those already in the country have turned a blind eye to the cost of this issue.
Some believe that if illegal aliens declare their status, pay taxes and obey our laws, they should receive citizenship. Opponents do not believe the U.S. should award these people with such a precious gift because they came to this country in violation of the law. Exacerbating the controversy is the current policy of offering citizenship to the children of illegal aliens born in the U.S. Generally, it would not be realistic for immigration officials to round up millions of people in violation of our immigration laws and send them back to their countries of origin. And what about their legal offspring? Nonetheless, we cannot stand by idly and allow illegal aliens to drain our nation’s resources while so many citizens are in need of more services.
Illegal aliens are using costly services and taking jobs away from our citizens while very few pay taxes. The solution to this dilemma is elusive, especially since America has always been kind to immigrants who have come to our shores looking for a better life. Thousands of people have applied for citizenship legitimately and are waiting for their opportunity. Why should the interlopers have an advantage over law-biding immigrants? Nevertheless, there is a moral issue that must be considered. Some would amend U.S. immigration policies merely because “it is the right thing to do.”
Proposals to change our laws have included a plethora of schemes to grant citizenship using different criteria, which, supposedly, would foretell whether illegal aliens would be good citizens. But most know that joining the military, applying to college or having a legal job that pays taxes are the preferred methods.
Continued illegal immigration must also be addressed as part of a new comprehensive national policy. The cost of overseeing those already in the country would be monstrous; the cost of preventing incremental illegal immigration is equally daunting. Securing our borders is a topic often discussed in Congress without any resolution.
The issue of immigration may ultimately have a great impact on America. Citizenship for “qualified” illegal immigrants could materially change our political system as it includes the right to vote. The financial impact of caring for tens of millions of people is already stressing several states, and closing off our borders will require yet another huge investment. So, the proponents of more lenient immigration policy have a huge mountain to climb before they convince opponents to reconsider their positions.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons