So why might illegal immigration be a bad thing? An influx of undocumented workers can negatively affect our economy in several ways. The issue most commonly discussed is the strain illegals put on government services. This would include housing, welfare, schooling, healthcare, police, fire, and EBT. Some immigrants find ways to take advantage of these services themselves, but any child born in the US is considered a citizen and can legitimately use these services despite both parents being illegal.
However, in either situation it is likely that no income tax would be paid to help support those services. This puts a strain on our government that just adds to our $14 trillion national deficit. Education for illegals alone is estimated at $12 billion per year, and illegals using hospital and ambulance services without paying have shut down these services in many areas.
Because of their socioeconomic status and lack of documentation, illegal immigrants are sometimes more prone to commit crimes. One of the largest concerns is the migration of Mexican drug cartels across the border. These are the same cartels that have murdered 55,000 Mexicans in the last decade.
Immigration is also an easy way for terrorists to make it into the country. Some of these terrorist cells will remain dormant for decades before taking any action. A major concern with Syrian refugees has be the concern that members of ISIS are entering the US posing as refugees. Many illegals are arrested for crimes committed in the US, but are released instead of being deported. Of those released about 80% will be arrested again in the 5 years after being released.
It has also been shown in several studies that illegal aliens are the most likely group of people to rely on government assistance. It was recently determined that 57% of households lead by an illegal are receiving some sort of government assistance. They have a hard time finding or keeping work and are prone to file for these services. This is especially true if they have brought a large family with them when immigrating. While services like social security are being drained dry for the rest of us, illegals with little contribution to society are expecting a handout. While the rest of the country is required to buy healthcare or face a steep fine, over 30% of illegals do not have health insurance.
The US Food Stamp program, also known as EBT, is a large enough issue to discuss it separately. Every year the US doles out $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion in food stamps to illegals. This is largely due to the staffing for this program being limited and being forced to breeze through the verification process for benefits.
Almost anybody can get approved for food stamps if they put the right information on the application. Somewhere between 460,000 and 700,000 illegal households receive these benefits. The US Agriculture Department has a limited budget for this program, and native citizens are losing out on these benefits because of the illegal use of EBT.
Despite the issue with these services, perhaps a bigger issue is the effect on the workforce itself. Illegals are more likely to put up with low wages and poor working conditions. This allows employers to offer lower wages and worse conditions to all employees. The effect can be lower wages by three to eight percent, and this mainly affects unskilled workers without a high school diploma. It also tends to affect teenagers trying to enter the workforce for the first time.
With 1 in every 14 people in the US being an illegal immigrant, they can cause a large impact on the workforce. These workers take up many of the jobs upon which unskilled US citizens rely. Employers are largely the reason for our current immigration policy. Obviously, employers prefer cheap labor. In southern states this preference is so prevalent that Mexicans are not even counted in immigrant numbers. Employers claim that the immigrant workforce is absolutely needed for the agriculture industry to function, so they have no intention of making any changes.
There are some benefits that immigration may cause. Cheaper labor mean lower costs. If these costs are passed on to consumers, it can have a stimulating effect on the economy. In addition, illegals spend most of the money they earn. This also helps the economy. The negative effects are isolated to unskilled workers as well.
Anybody in the middle or upper class is largely shielded from these concerns. Also, maintaining a cheap labor force helps to slow transition from manpower to machine power in industrial plants. This could provide a long term benefit for all unskilled workers. As even fast food franchises are cutting jobs and installing automated systems, keeping all of our workers employed is a challenge.
Recent news coverage has focused on the claim that more illegals are leaving to return to Mexico versus coming over into the US. If this were accurate it would mean a negative net gain of illegals, but there is one small issue. This information was derived from the PEW study covering statistic from 2009 to 2014. During that time, this shift back to Mexico was accurate. However, the Obama administration has implemented several immigration programs that protect aliens and this has turned the trend. In 2015 and 2016, the statistics show that the US is back to a huge net gain of illegal immigrants. Over 80% of illegal aliens are completely protected from prosecution, and the rest are not likely to face consequences.
So what can be done? In 1995 the US Commission on Immigration Reform suggested limiting immigration to skilled workers only. The US economy has been unable to absorb the influx of unskilled workers from other countries. Yet this recommendation is still being ignored. Deportation is an option, but it actually costs more to deport an illegal than it does to leave them here. It is also a logistical nightmare.
Some have suggested granting legal status to all illegals. That would likely increase tax income, but it may also increase the amount of government services used. One study showed that the cost of this action would be $6.3 trillion over the next 50 years. It seems that better control at the point of entry may be the only option that makes much sense.
Studies have shown that eliminating 1/3 of the illegal alien population would increase wages for non-graduate unskilled workers by $400 per year. In addition, the cost of federal government services given to illegals equates to $346 billion or $9100 per immigrant per year. The cost to local and state governments is estimated to be even higher. With an uncertain economic future, we simply cannot spend these huge figures on people that do not contribute income tax.
So why the big claims to continue allowing huge numbers of immigrants? One word… votes. As we approach the election, candidates know that the Hispanic vote is crucial. Never before has a victory relied more on these votes. By promising to allow friends and family to cross over the border, candidates gain a huge advantage. Whether they actually intend to make good on these promises or not is yet to be seen.
Unless policy is drastically changed, the number of illegals will continue to increase. As more and more aliens settle in the US, their friends and family become more prone to make the move as well. If left unchecked it could grow our illegal population exponentially. Eventually there will be a point at which we simply cannot handle the load.
Even if we decided to deport all illegal aliens in the US, most would never make it across the border. Of the illegals currently charged with crimes that require deportation, the majority are either stuck in prison or have been released. Often their home country will refuse to take them back, which leaves the US with limited options. It’s estimated that 30% of our prison population is currently illegal aliens ant that they cost us $1.6 billion per year. With prison populations growing to an unsafe and unhealthy number, keeping them locked up is not a great choice either.
I think the one thing that most people agree upon is that something needs to change. The US immigration policy is intentionally vague which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. As terrorism increases and our economy waivers, immigration becomes a more important issue. Americans will never fully agree on this subject, but hopefully we can find a solution that will keep your country great.