Illegal Immigration Analysis
Not only is the state and federal government having a difficult time preventing illegal immigrants from entering the country but they are having an even more difficult time dealing with them once they are in the state. The U.S. Constitution designates immigration policy as an exclusive federal responsibility; yet, California tax payers (for instance) are expected to foot a bill of over $3.5 billion in state costs for services through illegal immigrants for the FY 1995-1996. Of the total, $2.65 billion is for federally mandated activities. These costs come at the expense of the State being able to provide much-needed services to legal residents. The decreased value of the Mexican Peso is partially to blame for the increase in illegal border crossing. Illegal immigrants come to the Unites States in hopes to find an education for themselves or their children, to find work, and to better their daily lives. By coming to the United States, immigrants are given a chance to attend public schools, receive emergency health care, and other public services. Immigrants know that they will have a greater chance of making a living in America and stand to loose very little for failure, so they migrate north in search of that American Dream. The Clinton administration has taken action to deal with and prevent illegal immigration. One such action was the creation of Operation Gatekeeper. Operation Gatekeeper began in late 1994, and was designed to dramatically reduce the number of successful illegal border crossings.
It provided $500 million to border states for the purpose of hiring over 100 new border patrol agents, purchasing new vehicles, and other surveillance equipment. Under Operation Gatekeeper the government directly reduces illegal immigration by placing myriad personnel and equipment on the border with the purpose of detecting and apprehending illegal border crosses. This system makes it much more difficult for undocumented immigrants to find legitimate work. Also, government sanctions are being placed on employers who hire illegal immigrants. On the state level, the situation is much more complex. It is the federal government who makes immigration policy. However, if the federal government fails to secure our borders and illegal immigrants settle in the state, it is then the responsibility of the state to provide public service to them and to finance those services. This is the situation currently facing USA and its residents. The government is failing to prevent illegal immigration and country has to pay for that failure. Proposition 187 (originated in California) was designed to eliminate almost all public services to illegal immigrants such as public education and emergency health care. Employers and public officials would be required to report people who appear to be suspect of being an illegal immigrant. This initiative has met with much resistance from the general public and federal government.
The initiative received 58% approval in the 1994 elections and passed into law. However, Federal Judge Mariana Pfaelzer put a restraining order on the bill claiming that is was unconstitutional. Stated in the case of Decanas vs. Bica (1976), “It is perfectly proper for California to pass a law dealing with immigration as long as it is not inconsistent with federal immigration laws” (Chuvak 45). Not only may such propositions as the one mentioned above may be unconstitutional, but they also comprise several dignity factors, which need to be considered. If the “anti- immigrants” laws were to become enforceable, the nearly 300 thousand immigrant children enrolled in our public schools would not only be expelled, but school officials would be required to report the children’s parents to the INS. Then the Immigration Services would be in the position to detain and deport the parents and the children.
Another factor, which needs to be considered has to deal with the health of the children. If the law would make illegal immigrants ineligible for non-emergency health care, that would deny children of necessary vaccination. Basically, these laws would revoke all the rights illegal immigrants currently have, effectively cutting them off from society. Unable to find legitimate work to support themselves, illegal immigrants would be forced to take desperate measures to ensure their families survival. They may find themselves working in black market sweatshops, committing property and violent crimes, or drawn into some sort of slave labor arena. There is no telling what a desperate person would be forced to do in order to feed his family. In the 1980s concern about the surge of illegal aliens into the U.S. has led Congress to pass legislation aimed at curtailing illegal immigration. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 allows most illegal aliens who have resided in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 1982, to apply for legal status. In addition, the law prohibits employers from hiring illegal aliens and mandates penalties for violations. Most illegal immigrants come to the United States in search of employment, not to go on welfare, as many anti-immigration politicians and activists would claim. For many years, federal officials have attempted to deter illegal immigration by denying undocumented aliens access to the U.S. job market. In 1986 Congress passed the employer sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Employer sanctions made it a crime for employers to knowingly hire illegal aliens. Business owners who fail to comply with the law and knowingly hire illegal immigrants can face thousands of dollars in fines and, in the severest cases, prison sentences. Immigration raises the cost of public services in areas with large numbers of immigrants, but the “influx of non-American residents benefits the U.S. economy overall” (Chuvak 143). Immigrants - both legal and illegal - may be adding as much as $10 billion to the economy each year and have little negative effect on job opportunities for most citizens, the prestigious National Research Council said. But the authoritative, 500-page report from the Council also provided compelling new evidence that taxpayers in California bear an unequal burden in providing services for both legal and illegal newcomers and their families, especially in education and health care. In an estimate sure to resonate throughout California, researchers set this tax burden at a substantial $1,178 annually for each California household headed by a U.S. native- by far the highest such price tag in the nation. In fact, the study stated, residents in the vast majority of the country enjoy a net tax gain, because immigrants are concentrated in just six states but their taxes mostly go to the federal government. The anger toward illegal immigrants has grown steadily among Americans in recent years, fueled both by the huge number of illegal aliens living in the state of California- nearly two million, or about half of the country’ s entire illegal population- and by the state’s somewhat increasing economic recession.
However, it is important to remember that by taking away the illegal immigrants rights and effectively cutting them off from mainstream society is isn’t the best idea of dealing with the situation. Many want to force the illegal aliens out of California, and wish to take away the public service, which attract them to America in the first place. Instead or preventing more illegal immigrants from entering USA, the advocates of such drastic policies desire to punish the ones that are already here. Another approach to solving the problem is that the government should get to the root of the problem and cut it off there. If the problem begins when illegal immigrants cross the border, then more forces are needed to ensure that this trouble is gradually illiminated. House Speaker Gingrich devised his own policy to help California to deal with the problem of illegal border crossings. He has taken into account the extreme success of Operation “Hold the Line” that took place in El Paso, Texas. His plan was to give California $100 million for the purpose of hiring thirteen hundred new border patrol agents for the San Diego area, where most of the illegal border crossing takes place. Currently there are about fifteen hundred agent patrolling the area, and there is already funds available to hire 200 additional agents before the end of this fiscal year.
Then, with the pressure of the illegal immigrant population increase gone, the state may be able to find less harsh ways of dealing with the illegal immigrants that are already here. Illegal immigration has and always will be a problem for California and the United States. The United States already receives more legal immigrants than the rest of the world combined. So the problem of immigration for the United States is not going to vanish. America is a nation of immigrants and it has to be smart when dealing with immigration. Government can not make outcasts of those who are not legal because that will only create more problems. It is the federal government that is failing to keep the borders secure, and it is the states that pays for this failure. There are many bills, plans, and programs on the drawing board that are being designed to deal with this issue. Border control is a major issue that needs to be studied and dealt with intelligently and humanely. It is just not right, humane, or proper to take away what little rights illegal immigrants do have, and is most definitely not the American thing to do.
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