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 - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/illegal-immigration.php