Immigration Amnesty in the United States

The United States is one of the few countries in the world which faces a very serious problem of illegal immigrants. These illegal immigrants enter the country usually with the aid of a middleman and usually work in low paying menial jobs, so that they can avoid going back to their home country. ‘Immigration Amnesty’ refers to the practice of granting legal immigration status to any person who is in the country illegally, and has been a much debated topic for years. Although immigration amnesty can be given to people who have entered the country through illegal means, it is also granted only to people who have lived in harmony with others and who have not committed any offenses or conducted illegal activities.

The Pros

Immigration Amnesty was once considered the right solution to discourage people from entering the US illegally. Since the 80’s alone, it is estimated that more than 4 million immigrants have been granted immigration amnesty in the US. This has only heightened the debate even more with different reasons being cited as to why it should be promoted or scrapped altogether. Many people agree that illegal immigrants take up menial jobs that many citizens actually reject, and in a way they make an important contribution to the economy itself. For instance, in states where farming is the prime occupation, these immigrants do many back breaking jobs for very low pay. The government spends huge resources on identifying illegal immigrants, which may be better spent on more important issues like combating terrorism, education and healthcare if immigration amnesty is awarded more frequently. Thirdly, many of these immigrants bring their families with them or get married in the US, which gives the children born the status of a US citizen, so granting immigration amnesty seems sensible.

The Cons

On the other hand, there is another viewpoint which states that illegal immigrants are people who are responsible for breaking the law and rewarding them with a legal status undermines those who enter the country legally. Secondly, illegal immigrants do not pay taxes and are considered a burden by more than 70% of Americans, as revealed in a recent poll. They may also use public facilities and services like schools and transport, without making any indirect contributions towards it. Thirdly, since these immigrants are willing to work for very low pay, it makes it difficult for natives themselves to get well-paying jobs. Over a period of time, this brings down the value of a worker as well.

Finding a Solution

Illegal immigration is not just a growing concern for society itself but also for the government. It may be easy to criticize the ‘Dream Act’ bill which stated that children of illegal immigrants would be allowed to get legal permanent resident status if they attended college or served in the military for two years, but finding a solution is harder than it appears. Probably, the best stand to adopt is to stay focused on what benefits the country the most, but to also be fair to the illegal immigrants who clearly contribute a lot to the economy. However, enforcement of immigration laws and making sure that incentives are not given to future illegal immigrants is very important. Ensuring that existing illegal immigrants are protected and that they are slowly merged with the rest of society seems to be the best answer to the problem.