Becoming Informed: A Proposal
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), among the many immigrants living in the U.S., between 11.5 to 12 million of them are illegal immigrants. However, the presence of these people has caused a tremendous change in the United States since it has helped the economy according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. Some of these people have been living within the U.S. for many years and they are being marginalized. As President Bush stated,
Many undocumented workers have walked mile after mile, through the heat of the day and the cold of the night. Some have risked their lives in dangerous desert border crossings, or entrusted their lives to the brutal rings of heartless human smugglers. Workers who seek only to earn a living end up in the shadows of American life — fearful, often abused and exploited. When they are victimized by crime, they are afraid to call the police, or seek recourse in the legal system. They are cut off from their families far away, fearing if they leave our country to visit relatives back home, they might never be able to return to their jobs. (Bush)
Today, the new Federal Immigration policy proposals have been issued by our new elected President which shatter the harmony that naturally comes from many communities throughout the country. According to the new policy, about 11 million of undocumented immigrants would be deported to their homelands regardless of their crime conviction or not. In conversation with my friends, Anifa Nikkha, one of a member in diverse group in the Immigration and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) where I have volunteered for almost three years; she expressed, “Over the past few weeks, like many others in the immigrant community, my emotions have been fluctuating between two different states: depression and outrage.” This is not only her concern, but also a concern among people in our community. Among these people, some were born here and some are immigrants. The bottom-line is that all of the people within the United States, besides the Native Americans, are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants. These people are simply living in an invisible world in which they have no rights; they simply do not exist. Because of this situation, I would like to make a proposal to end this situation and give these marginalized people the opportunity that they deserve. But, before coming up with my proposal, there are many significant facts we should know about undocumented immigrants in our country.
The Fact on Immigrants
Immigrants are people who have come from another country to live in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are those who live here without legal authorization. Roughly one third to one half of undocumented immigrants have entered the U.S. legally and overstayed their tourist, student or work visas. Many are seeking legal remedies.
According to Kaiser Family survey about Immigrants in the U.S.
Why do Immigrants come to the U.S.?
The U.S. is a land of immigrants and motivations range from fleeing violence, political unrest or environmental disaster, to rejoining family, escaping a life of poverty, or simply seeking opportunity and freedom.
Where are U.S. Immigrants from? Where do they live?
According to National Immigrant Justice Center, U.S. Department of State; in 2014, 48% of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are from Asia, Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and places other than Mexico. Fifty-two percent of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico, down almost a million since 2009. Six states accounted for 59% of undocumented immigrants in 2014: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. At least 5,100 U.S. citizen children were living in foster care in 2011 because their undocumented immigrant parents were detained or deported. An estimated 205,000 parents of children who are U.S. citizens were deported between 2010 and 2016.
The government of the United States of America should offer undocumented men and women that are currently living and working in the United States an amnesty that offers a permanent legal status. This amnesty should only take place among those undocumented workers that are currently living and working in the United States for at least 10 years. Besides living and working in this country for at least 10 years, undocumented workers should have a clean criminal history, in other words, they must be an example in the community without having committed any type of crime, including identity theft. Under this proposal, undocumented workers need to prove their residency in the country for at least 10 years, as well as their work history for the corresponding fixed amount of time. Undocumented workers should report to immigration agencies to prove their status as well as their work history, and need to pay a fee that will be used to process all of their paper work. All of the workers that qualify will be given a Residence Card or, as it is well known as, a Green Card. Many of these undocumented workers have children that are also living illegally in this country. Under this proposal, kids whose parents qualify to obtain the Residence Card will automatically qualify to become legal residents of this country. It is up to every person to pursue citizenship in the country since we are only requiring that they are given a legal status. As part of our proposal, we believe that any undocumented worker who commits any crime or proves to be a threat to the safety of this country will automatically lose their legal status and will be deported from this country. We want to provide help for these people but we also want to keep the safety of this country.
For many Americans, the word undocumented immigration comes up with an image of poor and uneducated people scuttling across the border to find minimum wage jobs and opportunities for a better future. Others blame crime, poverty, and overpopulation on immigration. They also require the government has tried to somewhat restrict immigration. Some people argue that immigration is highly unpopular with many U.S. citizens. Others argue that immigration is harmful and unnecessary in our society. However, I believe that immigrants, instead of harming the U.S. society, are largely contributing to its economy as well as to the culture. Furthermore, these people are working for extremely low wages, and some of them are supporting their native, U.S. born children on these low wages. Many of them are just in the U.S. trying to live a better life than they had in their native land, just like any other American trying to pursue the American dream. However, living under such circumstances as it was previously described is not making them any better. An example of benefits of undocumented immigrants can be seen in the following report made by Mehta et al., which states, “Undocumented immigrants in the Chicago metro area spending approximately $2.89 billion annually from their earnings. These annual expenditures of $2.89 billion generate an additional $2.56 billion in local spending. Therefore, the direct, indirect, and induced spending of undocumented workers accounts for a total of $5.45 billion spent annually in the metro area economy, or 1.5% of the Gross Regional Product for 2001. This spending generates 31,908 additional jobs in the local economy.” (41) This report shows how greatly this marginalized group contributes to our economy, although they are not legal residents of this country.
Benefits of legalizing undocumented immigrants
Besides the economic impact, it is also important to highlight how beneficial it will be to the welfare of our society. Our country needs people to do jobs that no other Americans are willing to do. As a result of it, by legalizing all of these undocumented workers we will have the workers that we need to do the jobs that many people do not want to do. But most importantly, the government will have control over them. What I mean by having control over them is that the government will be able to identify them, which will help American Citizens keep our safety. It is true that many of these illegal immigrants have committed crimes and felonies. But, by legalizing them; we will still have them to do the jobs that need to be done and we will make our country safer. This fact will be achieved since we would now have them identified, which makes it easier for our authorities to locate them in case they commit a crime. Having safety in our country is part of our welfare, but having workers that can perform jobs that are also crucial to our welfare. By legalizing them, their fears will end. They will no longer be invisible in this country. And they will have the rights that they deserve as workers of the United States.
Furthermore, it is important to highlight the fact that United States is a country of values and believes. America believes in liberty, equality, giving opportunities, and tolerance. Such values cannot be taken for granted and, as a result of it, should we – American Citizens- offer undocumented workers an amnesty instead of deportation because this action demonstrates that our country believes in giving opportunities as well as in liberty and equality? I believe this amnesty will give more credibility to the importance of our values. It will prove our justice and our ethics because we will show the world how rational and open minded we are to issues that are currently taking place and we do not ignore but instead act upon it. “These are the values we have kept in our mind and have given us hope. We don’t care about who has what. We value how American people value others, especially about life,” said Francis Khami, one of member of the diverse group at IRCO.
We are a country of values and principles that under no circumstances ignore our beliefs. We need to prove to the world the significant difference that immigrants make. But most importantly, their tremendous hard work and perseverance towards having better life. Taking this action will help our country remain loyal to its values but most importantly, show that we do not want to marginalize human beings by not helping them. As many people in diverse community at IRCO said, “We’re just grateful for the gift of the America. Your tax money gave us hope, faith, and life. We are sure that your tax money given to us was wisely spent.” (IRCO group personal interview)
Anifa, Nikkha. Personal Interview. 05 March 2017
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Francis, Khami. Personal Interview. 05 March 2017
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