Sweltering heat holds a coarse hand over the dusty and dry air as thousands of people are crowded around a single line that stretches across America’s southernmost border. Violence and terror reigns over both sides of the said line as a solution seems nowhere in sight. There is a problem and we need to stop avoiding it. The Government needs to take action and create a cohesive plan to solve America’s illegal immigration crisis as it currently is deteriorating our economy, making life harder for those who have or are trying to immigrate here legally, harming the lives of children, and has created very inhumane situations at the border. Due to mass illegal immigration, the economy is taking a severe blow. In regards to tax intakes, there is a common misconception that illegal immigrants pay up to $90 Billion in taxes every year, however, that is the net cost of taxes that both illegal and legal immigrants pay (Eddlem 22). On top of this, it is still proportionally half of what legal citizens pay due partly to the fact that legal immigrants and native-born citizens have to pay more in taxes anyway and the high amount of tax evasion that comes from under the table jobs (Eddlem, 22).
Illegal immigrants also cause an impossible competition in the workforce due to the fact that they are inhumanely exploited and can be paid an unlivable salary which is unfair to both the migrants and the citizens who are looking to support their families (Eddlem, 22). In Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,”this is shown when native Californians, as well as the migrant farmers, struggled to find jobs that paid enough to support their families. Germany also faced issues when the birth rate plummeted due to the sky-rocketing level 5 economy and Angela Merkel opened the door to mass immigration to create more citizens to work empty job slots, and now jobs are scarce. The problem was solved so well, that to an extent, it created a new problem.
Europe has faced even more problems with immigration, not just in Germany. Israel’s wall is what inspired Trump’s solution, mass migration and unfair socialistic practices have led to a “red revolution”, or a revolution of republicans/conservatives, and many consider it the “fall of the old continent” (Buchanan, 13). Illegal immigrants also, as previously stated, are often paid under the table which leads to tax evasion and easier access to buying black market materials (especially drugs) without a trace (Eddlem, 22). All of these factors cause poverty levels to skyrocket and the economy to plummet. The net cost (of both positive and negative economic growth due to illegal migration) is negative $22 Billion (Eddlem 22). The economic impact is substantial and causes America’s spiraling economy to fall faster. The swarm of immigrants that are “invading” America have made way for hysteria to rise, which always makes a situation worse.
Illegal immigrants often make it harder for people who want to migrate here legally able to. One of the main causes for the sudden influx is that in the 1970s and early 80s, America started its “War on Drugs” which led to a huge rise of illegal substances in the black market, especially in the southern states which started to trade beyond the border (Flynn). As America’s black market increased, so did Mexico and it spanned down to Central America (Flynn). Small towns and big cities alike were taken over by drug lords, violence, and poverty which caused many refugees to flee to the border (Flynn). This wave of immigrants led to mass hysteria sweeping over the USA which caused many immigration programs designed to make obtaining work/student visas, green cards, and citizenships easier, such as the Bracero Program, shut down (Flynn). Ironically, the more people who wanted to migrate here, the less they were able to. Also, the controversial Immigration-Nationality Act was instated which began to only allow a specific “quota” of people from each country to migrate here legally (Flynn). The same number of people wanted to come here legally, but because the shut down of said programs due to mass illegal immigration, hard-working individuals became unable to. It is also very unfair to those who worked hard for years to become a US citizen to have someone who entered illegally be given the same treatment.
Dr. Isabelle Williams, a science and education specialist working for Arlington ISD as well as a green-card holder, has lived in America for the past twenty years. Originally, she came to the United States with a student visa to obtain her PhD here, but soon she fell in love with her now-husband, Dr. K. Keven Williams. They live here happily, but Dr. Williams still has not been able to recieve her citizenship despite the fact that she requests one annually as well as whenever she gets her green card renewed. “I find it outrageous that illegal immigrants are exempted from all the paperwork and fees I had to pay,” she says about her experience. “They should go through the regular process and wait for hours at the immigration office. It’s unfair to me that many people who come here illegally are granted amnesty and citizenship while I’ve been waiting for mine for more than twenty years of my life and put forth more work for it.”
Situations like this are found all over the country. It’s inequitable how illegal-immigration harms those who want to become citizens. A huge controversial topic on illegal immigration is children. Between October 2013 and July 2014, 52,000+ children (most being from Central America and many unaccompanied by legal guardians) were taken into custody at the US border (Armstrong, 95). Most will be taken to stay with relatives or family friends and or the foster care system to await a trial (Armstrong, 95). Due to the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, all children taken into custody at the border must have a trial or a hearing before they are either allowed to stay in the US or deported back to their home country (Armstrong, 95).
However, due to the “backlog”, it might be years before some of these children are given a hearing. Until then, many kids will be stuck in the foster care system which severely overburdens the system and creates more taxes (The Economist, 12). The separation policy, which states that children must be separated from parents at the border, is also very unethical as often times the parents have no idea where their children are being taken or if they’ll ever see them again. This is new to President Trump’s term as both Bush and Obama deported many immigrants, but never separated families (The Economist, 12). Another controversial subtopic on undocumented children is DACA or The Dreamers program. Instituted in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals states that all children brought to the US as babies cannot be faulted as they were innocent, and offers them a temporary visa.
Trump foolishly wants to abolish the program, but he never told Congress what it is he wants to do with the 690,000 children who have lived in the United States for almost their entire lives (Samuelson). If the government continues to abolish all programs that allow legal immigrants to stay, they will just create more and more cases of undocumented immigration flooding our borders. The lack of institution and solutions to the immigration issues at hand have created more violence. Ironically, the cause of many immigrants to flee their home country is violence, which is what they run into at the border. San Ysidro, for example, gave way to a frenzied riot in November 2018. A mob of hundreds of angry migrants trying to breach the border attacked the border patrol with rocks and glass bottles, and they were responded with rubber bullets and tear gas (Buchanan, 13). According to CNN, hundreds of migrants die every year at the border in riots or in lack of aid (Ellis, Hicken, Ortega). It is truly inhumane to allow human lives to perish because they are on the wrong side of the border. Furthermore, many of those who were shot towards at the border were mere toddlers, no more than the age of five (Ellis, Hicken, Ortega). The border, where many immigrants stay in refugee camps, also harbors unsafe conditions (Ellis, Hicken, Ortega). Many children who have stayed in the detention facilities recount upon being strapped to a table and being forced to take injections of substances later found to be sedatives and antipsychotics along with psychotropic drugs disguised as “vitamins” (Ellis, Hicken, Ortega). The migrants are often kept in tents or small buildings often unequipped with air-conditioning or heating to combat the cold winters and hot summers, and many have claimed instances of neglect, physical, and verbal abuse (Ellis, Hicken, Ortega).
These unethical instances at the border and in detention facilities all over the U.S. must be stopped. The government is not doing enough to stop this crisis. President Trump recently proposed the idea of building a wall, mimicking Israel and their war against immigrants, which shut down the government the longest it ever has been- thirty-five days (Buchannan, 13). The wall is a very controversial solution. Its pros include Schumer and Pelosi (democrat representatives) agreed to fund the wall if dreamers are allowed to stay (effectively helping thousands of children and families) (Samuelson), it would reduce the number of illegal immigrants (although not abolish it) (Samuelson), symbolize a more adamant attitude on border laws (Samuelson), and it has already worked in Israel (Chafets). It would roughly cost $25 Billion (Samuelson), which many argue would be a small price if we can protect the dreamers and create more paths to citizenship. The cons, however, are where the controversy comes in.
The wall is so effective in Israel because the border only stretches out for 152 miles against Egypt, however, the Mexican-American border is roughly 2,000+ miles long and most of it is private property which the government would have to buy (probably from unwilling sellers) to be able to build on (ADL). The terrain also mostly consists of mountains and a grand river which would be very difficult costly, and dangerous to build on or near. The Great Wall of China and The Berlin Wall also prove that having a physical barrier isn’t always very effective (ADL). Cost wise, who is going to pay for the wall? On top of this, coyotes (those who help people cross the border) would start charging migrants more to pass, therefore exploiting migrants even more (ADL).
Another proposal is to appoint more judges to sit over the children’s cases so there is less backlog, creating more family detention centers to “maintain America’s family values as well as being more efficient”, and handling the asylum cases in Central America (Samuelson). This way, the separation policy is abolished, families can stay together, hopefully, we can put a stop to the violence that drives people here, and free up the backlog of cases. The hardest part of creating a working solution, however, is getting the democrats and republicans to agree without effectively shutting down the government again and making all government workers work for free while it’s out of commission (even though it’s against the 1833 Factory Act). All in all, we must create a solution to combat the problems created by the influx of illegal immigrants. The only way we can put an end to this matter is by compromise and teamwork, a concept we all should have learned in kindergarten. By doing so, we can hopefully put an end to the violence, and economic strife, create more pathways to legal citizenship, and keep families together.