Should a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants (part of the DREAM Act) be implemented, granting amnesty & American citizenship to illegals after various requirements are fulfilled?

In a Nutshell

Yes

No

  1. The foundation of the United States, as it describes on our Statue of Liberty, is immigration.
  2. Millions of illegal immigrants will stay in the shadows of society without some path to citizenship.
  3. It would generate additional tax revenues from both employers and employees as jobs are allowed to come into the open.
  4. We'd be able to count on the American justice system to protect wronged individuals and hold criminal immigrants accountable, whereas now illegals are afraid to be a part of the system due to possible deportation.
  5. It's inhumane to break up families that have built a life in America.
  6. It may be good for the U.S. economy since immigrants can fill jobs that most Americans don't want, often at a much lower cost to businesses.
  7. Homeland Security resources that focus on illegal immigrants can be redirected to tracking and finding terrorists.
  8. The current legal immigration path to citizenship is costly, time-consuming, inefficient, and limited. Thus, people seeking entry into the U.S. often have no choice but to do so illegally.
  9. It brings freedom and a path to self-sufficiency that isn't available to billions of others around the world who aren't lucky enough to be born in the United States.
  1. A path to citizenship rewards people for breaking the law.
  2. It's unfair to the people who have followed the rules in their quest for citizenship.
  3. It will create a flood of illegal immigrants from everywhere who will try to get in before the law goes into effect.
  4. The program would add millions of people to the welfare rolls, who consume government resources such as health care, social security, and education while paying little or no taxes. Thus, the out-of-control government deficits would be pushed further to the edge of bankruptcy.
  5. It further erodes the English language and American culture in the United States.
  6. It would take away more jobs from current American citizens and drive down wages of remaining jobs.
  7. It would create an influx of voters who support the president & lawmakers that gave them citizenship at the expense of existing citizens.
  8. It would lead to further overpopulation and crowding of American cities.
  9. Terrorists, drug dealers, and other foreign enemies will exploit any open border or amnesty policies put in place.
  10. Plenty of better solutions exist, such as increasing legal immigration limits and reforming worker visa programs.

Related Links

Overview/Background

Illegal Immigration has become an explosive situation in the United States, where the country currently holds an estimated 13 million illegals, which costs the taxpayers an estimated 113 million per year . And these statistics are only going to get worse as children of illegal immigrants become U.S. citizens and put a further drain on social security, Medicare, Obamacare, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs. There are two parts of the problem that need to be dealt with -- 1) Limiting the growth rate of illegals, and 2) What do we do about the millions of illegals that are already in the U.S.? Various solutions have been proposed to both problems, including deportation, building a U.S.-Mexico border fence , increasing the levels of legal immigration , and the topic of this discussion--a path to citizenship for illegals. Various political proposals have offered U.S. citizenship in return for fulfilling various requirements, such as acquiring a qualified job, paying back taxes or a fine, and passing a course on the English language. The question is, should any proposal give the million of illegal immigrants citizenship in the United States?

Yes

  1. The foundation of the United States, as it describes on our Statue of Liberty, is immigration. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore...." Those are the powerful words on our own Statute of Liberty. America was founded by citizens from all of the world who were unsatisfied with their home country and sought better opportunity for freedom and wealth in the New World. Where would our country be if we slowed or stopped immigration after we gained our freedom in the 1700s? Where would we be without the contributions of Albert Einstein, Andrew Carnegie, and so many other brilliant immigrants? Nothing was going to stop our ambitious ancestors from being successful in the New World. We should not turn away our current crop of immigrants seeking a better life and opportunity for success.

  2. Millions of illegal immigrants will stay in the shadows of society without some path to citizenship. Think about all your interactions with society & government-drivers licenses, taxes, unemployment insurance, school, marriage, banks, small claims court, police, etc. When you're an illegal immigrant, you're separated from all these. Illegal immigrants stay hidden from all these since public exposure of any kind may mean deportation of they and their families. And the living-in-the-shadows has a cascade effect. If you can't get a driver's license, you can't vote. You'll have trouble buying a car or getting insurance. If you don't have a verifiable source of income, you're unlikely to be able to obtain any credit. If you must stay hidden, you usually cannot attend American schools. In short, your opportunities are extremely limited.

  3. It would generate additional tax revenues from both employers and employees as jobs are allowed to come into the open. Since illegal immigrants aren't technically allowed to have jobs in the U.S., their work must be handled under the table, usually in cash. If they were allowed to be part of the legitimate working world, they would pay social security, Medicare, state, local, and federal income taxes. Not only that, but employers would be forced to paying matching social security & Medicare taxes along with unemployment taxes.

  4. We'd be able to count on the American justice system to protect wronged individuals and hold criminal immigrants accountable, whereas now illegals are afraid to be a part of the system due to possible deportation. Illegal immigrants are in effect all fugitives from the law. They always face the possibility of deportation of not only themselves, but their families. Thus, they can't go to police if they're wronged. What if an employer doesn't pay them the money owed for their work? What if an immigrant is raped or robbed? What if someone close to them is murdered? What are there options? To use the American justice system, they have to expose themselves to deportation. So there are really only two remaining alternatives. One is to suffer from the injustice with no viable recourse. The second is to take the law into their own hands through vigilantism. Plus, if an illegal immigrant is already a fugitive from the law, what's to stop him or her from committing other crimes? Deportation may be worse than prison for some. In other words, both American citizens and illegal immigrants suffer.

  5. It's inhumane to break up families that have built a life in America. It's very often the case that illegal immigrants bring their spouses or families over the border. If they're caught and deported, they may protect their families from the same fate; consequently, they must be separated indefinitely from their loved ones, often with limited ability to communicate. Another separation situation occurs when children are born in the United States. Because they're born here, they gain automatic U.S. citizenship. However, the same cannot be said for the parents, who still face the risk of deportation. Think how your life may be different if your parents were dragged away when you were young, and you didn't know when or if you would see them again. The illegal immigrants may want their children to stay in America and have a better life, so they may separate to make sure that happens.

  6. It may be good for the U.S. economy since immigrants can fill jobs that most Americans don't want, often at a much lower cost to businesses. There are plenty of low-paying, low-rewarding, physically-demanding or boring jobs that most Americans will not take. Certain farming jobs, digging sewers, washing dishes, cleaning hotel rooms are only some of the examples. People coming from Mexico or other poor countries will often be thrilled to get any kind of work, especially one that pays a minimum wage rate. Overall, this helps American companies be more competitive. Not only are they able to fill the less desired jobs that need to be completed, all wage rates will likely come down due to the millions of new resources in the workforce. It's a simple economics rule of supply and demand. The supply of available workers would increase, therefore wages would drop. If wages and costs to businesses in America drop, profits and competitiveness increase. Successful companies usually mean growing companies, in which case more jobs will open up to all Americans. If labor costs drop, consumer prices generally fall, which is yet another way society benefits.

  7. Homeland Security resources that focus on illegal immigrants can be redirected to tracking and finding terrorists. Homeland & border security personnel have their hands full with protecting us from both foreign and domestic terrorists. Drug dealers have been gaining power and fighting bloody battles along the Mexican-U.S. border. Organized crime units still operate all over the country. Hackers continually plant viruses and probe security holes in our computer networks. Do we really want to monopolize many of our important Homeland Security resources for tracking down and deporting innocent immigrants who are simply trying to improve their lives and feed their families?

  8. The current legal immigration path to citizenship is costly, time-consuming, inefficient, and limited. Thus, people seeking entry into the U.S. often have no choice but to do so illegally. The immigration requirements for entering the United States are long, complex, and time-consuming. You usually need a lot of money (investor visa), specialized skills (work visa), or some kind of family/spousal relationship to a current U.S. citizen. Even then, you must receive medical clearance as well as fulfill other requirements. If you're not rich, superskilled, or connected to someone in the U.S., about the only way to citizenship is luck in the lottery selection system. So imagine you're poor & uneducated and you know no one in the U.S., yet you still are desperate for a better life. You're forced to either suffer in your home country with little opportunity for wealth & success, or hop the border illegally.

  9. It brings freedom and a path to self-sufficiency that isn't available to billions of others around the world who aren't lucky enough to be born in the United States. Most people born in the United States don't appreciate the gifts we've been given by being born in the U.S. We have a wide array of educational choices; we have freedom of religion, freedom to say what we want, the ability to vote, a free press to keep our political leaders in line, a usually fair and thorough justice system. Most people can find some kind of paid position if they want to take it, and when people are temporarily unemployed or can't feed themselves, charities and government programs are there to help. In short, we have endless opportunities to be wealthy, educated, and successful in the United States. What about people from other countries? If you come from a country with primitive educational institutions, few businesses operating, massive unemployment, and few options to improve your life, what are you going to do about it? What if you come from an Arab country where they might torture or kill you for being a Christian? What if you live under the boot of a dictator like Castro, Chavez, or Kim Jong Il? What if you're an Arab women who may be stoned to death for speaking out or showing your face in sunlight? America was founded by the ambitious people that would tolerate their home country no longer, who threw caution to the wind and put everything into a life in the New World. How can we possibly turn away so many others that are trying to do the same thing?

No

  1. A path to citizenship rewards people for breaking the law. While it's true that we are a "nation of immigrants", America was founded and grew to be the great country it is through the efforts of legal immigrants. We have laws for a reason--without them, there would be chaos! However, an unenforced law is essentially one that doesn't exist at all. A path to citizenship would reward lawbreakers who ignored our laws, while punishing those who are trying to emigrate to America using proper channels. How will our society change if we have a constant influx of people who's first interaction with the U.S. involves breaking the law? What other of our laws will they choose to ignore?

  2. It's unfair to the people who have followed the rules in their quest for citizenship. There is no country in the world that people would like to live than the United States. We have freedom, wealth, opportunity, entertainment, and diversity that exceeds all other countries of the world. So many law-abiding individuals want to come to the U.S. and go through the proper channels to do so. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy and limited immigrations amounts can take time to overcome. We want to reward the people that follow legal channels to get here. It will help encourage future immigrants to do the same.

  3. It will create a flood of illegal immigrants from everywhere who will try to get in before the law goes into effect. If your a foreigner who wants to become a citizen of the U.S., and you're many years away from having a possibility through legal channels, what are you going to do if a path to citizenship makes it through Congress for illegals? You will do your best to get over the border before it happens! Thus, we'll have a tidal wave of people from all borders that try to find a way into the country and streamline their path to citizenship. China, Japan, India, and many other countries are so overpopulated that it's difficult to live and breath. Traffic, crime, pollution, and overall stress increases as the population increases. Do we want to happen in the United States?

  4. The program would add millions of people to the welfare rolls, who consume government resources such as health care, social security, and education while paying little or no taxes. Thus, the out-of-control government deficits would be pushed further to the edge of bankruptcy. Any credible economist and American politician will tell you that if we follow our present course of spending far more than we take in in revenue, we're headed for bankruptcy and a disastrous collapse of the world economy. The American national debt is already over 7 times the revenue brought in for one year. We're spending over $3.5 trillion every year while only taking in around $2 trillion. These numbers don't even account for the looming financial headaches of social security, Medicare, Obamacare, and other government entitlements. Providing a path to citizenship will add over 10 million people who make little or nothing and will likely need to rely partially or wholly on government benefits. If the whole economic system doesn't collapse with the current course of action, it surely will if we add another 10+ million (and potentially their future kids) to the welfare roll!

  5. It further erodes the English language and American culture in the United States. The U.S. is called the great "melting pot" because immigrants of the past adopted the American culture and learned the English language. Despite our diversity, we did our best to become as one, uniquely American. In the era of multi-culturism, where schools often teach in both English and Spanish, where millions of jobs go to people who can't speak English and have no incentive to, our American culture is fracturing. Adding millions of foreigners who don't feel any need to join the melting pot will only erode that culture further.

  6. It would take away more jobs from current American citizens and drive down wages of remaining jobs. It is a total myth that Americans won't work the jobs that illegal immigrants work. The truth is they may not do the work for the low pay that immigrants are often given. If illegals are given citizenship, they become subject to our labor laws. Thus, minimum wage, health care benefits, etc. would all go into effect. There are always Americans ready to fill such jobs. Teenagers and college students alone, who take the vast majority of minimum wage jobs, would be affected most. Counting teens that have given up looking for work, the teen unemployment rate has hovered between 40 and 50 percent! When McDonald's added 50,000 jobs in April of 2011, there was basically a stampede of applicants looking for any work they could find. Adding over 10 million illegal immigrants to the workforce only makes the job search harder for Americans.

  7. It would create an influx of voters who support the president & lawmakers that gave them citizenship at the expense of existing citizens. If you gather an intelligent set of educated advisors--economists, immigration officials, security personnel, international relations experts, etc.--you could probably craft a well-thought-out solution to the immigration problems we face. However, when you add politics to the mix, intelligent solutions turn to mush. Just think what the government has done in the past with the tax code, health care system, and social security. If you give citizenship to 13+ million illegal immigrants, that creates a whole new voting block that will likely support your party in the future. Since most illegals are Mexican, current citizens of Mexican descent would likely also support your party. Consequently, politicians will do what they always do--focus on their own re-elections rather than the good of America and the world as a whole. Indeed, they may know a path to citizenship will cause major problems, but if it gets them re-elected, who cares?

  8. It would lead to further overpopulation and crowding of American cities. Have you ever been to Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai, or so many of the massively overpopulated cities of the world? Traffic, crime, stress, pollution, and other hardships inevitably come into the big-city environment. As you have more and more people living in a small area, the number of available jobs dry up and housing shortages develop. Most big cities simply do not have the ability to house, feed, and employ such a large number of people. Do we really want that to happen in the United States? An amnesty policy could essentially add tens of millions of people and their future children, who will seek out cities that have jobs available, at least in the beginning.

  9. Terrorists, drug dealers, and other foreign enemies will exploit any open border or amnesty policies put in place. The Mexican Drug War has ensnared thousands into bloody battles by the U.S.-Mexican border. Americans will always be the most profitable customer group for the Drug Cartels not only in Mexico, but around the world. Disciples of Osama bin Laden are constantly looking for ways to cause mass deaths and/or bring the U.S. economy to its knees. Communists in Russia, Venezuela, China, and Cuba spew their communist propaganda inside the U.S. as another step to their goal of destroying free capitalism. Do we really want to make it easier for all these groups of enemies to penetrate our country? The sky is the limit of what they could achieve if they added citizenship to their arsenal. One example--a terrorist would be subject to all our Constitutional protections, meaning Gitmo or other enhanced interrogation technique would be impossible.

  10. Plenty of better solutions exist, such as increasing legal immigration limits and reforming worker visa programs. There are so many better solutions to the immigration problem that haven't really been tried. We could really tighten the borders, deport all illegals that are caught, and cut off all benefits for illegals until foreigners are discouraged from even entering the country. We could expand and streamline legal immigration so people are more likely to come here legitimately. We could expand work and education opportunities for emigrating to the U.S., rather than handing outright citizenship. Perhaps most of all, we could amend our Constitution to make it so that children of illegal immigrants that are born here do not automatically become U.S. citizens! Until several other proposed solutions have at least been attempted, we shouldn't do anything so drastic as grant amnesty to tens of millions who've broke the laws of our country.


Related Links

Cato.org: Immigration Page
Time: Can a Guest Worker Program Work?
Wikipedia: Guest Worker Program
Heritage.org: Immigration
Pros and Cons of U.S.-Mexico Border Fence
Pros and Cons of Legal Immigration
Ehow: Immigration & Amnesty Pros and Cons
U.S. Immigration Support: Guest Worker Program
USLiberals: Pros and Cons of Immigration Reform

Is anything missing? Is any of the material inaccurate? Please let me know.

Written by:
Joe Messerli
Page Last Updated:
01/07/2012
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