It is clear that illegal immigration is a concern for United States citizens, as 59 percent of Americans have a “great deal/fair amount” of worry about illegal immigration, according to Gallup.
This unease is rightfully placed, and the benefits of a lower number of illegal immigrants are apparent. The U.S. should limit the number of illegal immigrants living and working in the nation as this would both positively impact immigrants and U.S. citizens.
Decreasing this sect of the population would eliminate a supply of labor willing to work below American wage expectations. If there were less low-wage, low-skilled workers, this would create a need for companies to raise their wages in order to attract and retain American workers.
Therefore, American workers in low-wage jobs, commonly held by legal immigrants, are hurt the most by this influx of illegal immigrant workers.
While a prevalent argument in favor of illegal immigration is that illegal immigrants often take jobs that Americans do not want, this, however, is inherently false. It is common knowledge that Americans do not want low-skilled jobs because they provide wages lower than any typical citizen would expect and need. When there is a supply of immigrant workers willing to do low-skill jobs, the wages for all low-skill jobs decreases.
Illegal immigrants are also a burden for taxpayers of legal status in the U.S. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that government expenditures, such as education, medical costs and welfare programs for illegal immigrants, cost federal taxpayers a net worth of over $45.8 billion and cost state and local taxpayers $88 billion. When combined, this results in a total government expenditure on illegal immigrants of over $134 billion.
The counter to this is that illegal immigrants pay taxes. It is estimated that they pay federal, state and local taxes that total in excess of $18.9 billion. With the simple math of their tax usage minus their contributions, it is estimated that there is a $116 billion deficit between the two. In New York State alone, it is estimated that taxpayers pay $6,424 per illegal immigrant.
Illegal immigration is not only harmful to U.S. citizens, but also to those who participate in illegal border crossings—specifically women. Women who immigrate illegally into the U.S. are frequently placed in harm’s way. Eighty percent of women who cross the border illegally are raped on their journey to reach the border, according to an investigation by Fusion.
Unfortunately, despite these facts that outline the benefits for both the U.S. and illegal immigrants, those who oppose illegal immigration are often met with claims of racism. This is inane; in the words of Barack Obama, as reported by The Hill, “It is important … not to assume everyone who has trouble with the current immigration system is automatically a racist,” and this could not be more true.
It is simply lazy to think that it is racist to oppose illegal immigration, when the basis for this position is rooted in economic, tax and safety reasons. There must be some sympathy for those who give up everything to cross the border in search of a better life—and there is—but immigration should be done so legally.
When we discuss the facts openly and honestly, there is a much greater likelihood of finding bipartisan solutions. Illegal immigration is a significant problem in the U.S. that needs to be addressed. This requires bipartisan discussion to reach the most logical—and humane—solution possible.