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Illegal immigration

Illegal Immigration

Immigration, legal or otherwise, is a huge issue right now.

Debates rage about how many immigrants should be allowed into the

country and how zealously we should guard out border from illegal

intruders. To a point, these people are correct, illegal

immigration is something that should be stopped. People should

not cross the border illegally or overstay on visits. The

important question is, however, does illegal immigration deserve

the massive amount of attention it receives? No, it does not.

By looking at the respected immigrants of the past and thinking

about the issues in a clear and objective way, it becomes

apparent that illegal immigration (and legal immigration, for

that matter) is not as vital an issue as many consider it to be.

A key point in this discussion is that many of those who are

vehemently opposed to illegal immigration are also opposed to

large amounts of legal immigration as well. These thinly hidden

agendas mean that often the debate on illegal immigration cannot

be separated from the debate on legal immigration.

According to Negative Population Growth (which is a suspect

source), Americans are firmly believe in tough laws against

illegal immigrants and that 70% of Americans want no more than

300,000 legal immigrants to enter the U.S. per year. In fact,

N.P.G. says that 20% of Americans want immigration completely

stopped. Taking these numbers as the truth, it is clear that

America thinks that we have too many immigrants.

Such a dislike of immigration is interesting considering the

success of past immigration. Many people would say that today's

immigrants are somehow different than those of the past.

However, the truth is that the similarities between the

immigrants of today and those of the past are numerous. Their

reasons for coming to this country are often similar. Many of

the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were

compelled to leave their homes by the rapidly changing nature of

their countries. In the Europe of the 19th century, this meant

quickly growing population and a rapidly industrializing economy.

In nations like Mexico and Vietnam, the same thing is happening

today, they "are undergoing the same convulsive demographic and

economic disruptions that made migrants out of so many nineteenth

century Europeans" (Kennedy p.64).

Those who are against the immigration of the 1990's also

say that the European immigrants of the past were culturally

similar to Americans, and that they were more willing to

assimilate and become "American." Neither of these things are

true. Old immigrant groups like the Italians and may be seen as

generically "white" and "American" now, but when they first began

moving to the United States, they were as alien as the immigrants

are today are. They were seen as culturally (and even

physically) inferior to native Americans. Old immigrant groups

had significant cultural differences that caused friction between

them and the natives. Those immigrants of the past also did not

come to America and instantly throw off all semblances of their

and language and society. On the contrary, according to David

Kennedy, "many...exerted themselves to sustain their religions,

tongues and ways of life" (Kennedy p. 64). Current opponents of

mass immigration also point to the large numbers of crimes

committed by immigrants. They are forgetting that the immigrants

of past had similar problems.

When illegal immigration is not confused with legal

immigration, debate can take place in a sane matter. As George

Borjas noted on page 77 of his article, the economic consequences

of illegal immigration are unclear. Convincing cases can be made

that illegals hurt and help the American economy. I have heard

that the United States needs the cheap and undiscriminating labor

of illegal immigrants to do the "dirty work," and that illegals

take jobs away from natives. Until more convincing data is

available, the approach to illegal immigration should be

sensible. Outlandish solutions like building a huge 2,000 mile-

long fence and gathering a virtual army to defend the border from

Mexicans are not the answer. Making legal immigration easier and

more common is the best solution that we have now.

Source: Essay UK -

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