Observations on illegal immigration in the US, possible solutions

25 05 2007

 What are we going to do with illegal immigration and illegal immigrants?

How do we stop illegal immigration?

How do we control immigration?

Take away the angry rhetoric, xenophobia, unsubstantiated claims and statistics and we see an problem that is global in scope and range.

It’s an economic issue. It’s a political issue.  It’s an emotional issue.  It’s a human issue.  It’s a moral issue.  There is no absolute “right or wrong” or “black and white”.

Poor people want to improve their condition and look toward wealthy countries as places of opportunity and employment.

Wealthier countries cannot allow uncontrolled immigration and growth if they wish to sustain their economic advantage and growth patterns.

Who has the right to live and work here or there?

There are two important issues at the heart of the issue:

1.  A country (government) has the right to close, defend and control their borders and all immigration.

This is a no-brainer, of course a country can do whatever they want with their border, immigration and foreign trade. It is their right to make the rules and regulations that govern their territory and for those who wish to enter the country.

Of course we have to remember that the US border consists of over 12,034 km of land boundaries and 19,924 km of coastline.

This makes total enforcement of the border a difficult if not impossible task. Keeping people out of the USA with walls is not possible.

Controlling the border, monitoring legal immigration  and enforcing laws to control or eliminate illegal immigration for the benefit of the country and it’s citizens is the goal of any good immigration policy.

2. What to do with existing immigrants currently living and working in the country?

This is the tricky one.

The US has clear laws and policies regarding illegal immigration, they have been in place for years.  The lack of enforcement and lack of application of the laws has resulted in 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the USA.

Solutions and Alternatives for existing illegal immigrants in the USA

1.  Provide Citizenship.  Allowing “fast track” to citizenship for existing illegal immigrants in the US sidesteps or ignores laws in place that were never seriously enforced over the past years.

Legal challenges, fairness issues, political problems all prevent this solution from being proposed, evaluated and accepted.

Arguably the best, fastest, cheapest solution that will not disrupt the economy in the short term.

Another problem to consider is that of trust.  Will an illegal immigrant trust a government program that brings them out of hiding and identifies them?

The next issue, if all the illegal immigrants sign up and become US citizens are they paying their taxes, are their employers withholding taxes?  If not there is a new legal challenge, the identification of tax evaders at the business and personal level.

2.  Find them and deport them.  Enforce the current laws.   Tracking down and deporting all illegal immigrants is not logical or cost effective due to the estimated amount of immigrants in the US. (10,000,000 to 20,000,000 according to some estimates).

It is the best political solution, makes headlines and polarizes people.  The idea that “we are just enforcing the law” is heard by followers of this strategy.

Unfortunately it also disrupts the economy at the local level when communities or workplaces are singled out for “raids” and massive deportation.

If there were a method to identify and return all illegals to their countries quickly the US economy would fall into a huge recession or depression due to the sudden and massive loss of labor.

If the US had been enforcing their immigration laws over the past years they would not have this situation.

But they didn’t do this enforcement in the past, and now what?

3.  Make new legislation prohibiting interaction and financial transactions with illegal immigrants. Good political solution, great headlines but does little to stop the underlying economic differences between the US and other countries (the reason why people immigrate).

New laws do not stop or slow down the entrance of illegal immigrants.  The fundamental problem continues, and is now criminalized further (reflect on how effective the laws were during Prohibition and currently against drugs in terms of stopping their use and commercialization).

Creates an underground economy (housing, fraudulent documents and I.D., etc.)  and increase the opportunities for illegal immigrants to be exploited and organized crime to get involved.

Creates an atmosphere of distrust, fear, xenophobia which creates violence, prejudice and hate between ethic groups and socioeconomic groups. Turning the average citizen into the police, judge and jury is not recommended.

If the current laws are not enforced, do we need to make more?

4.  Create a temporary permit or permission to allow immigrants to work.  This makes sense if there is a need for immigrant workers in the US economy. It allows them to work, pay taxes, and participate in the infrastructure.

The major problem here is that the US employee does not want to pay taxes, benefits and competitive wages to low wage workers.  This is not because they are bad people, it’s because to be competitive they require the lowest costs possible, and taxes reduce their competitive advantage.

The lawmakers will not be able to determine how many individuals should be allowed in yearly, or for how long.

Paying taxes is not an issue for the illegal immigrant.  Getting a job that pays is an issue.

The enforcement of immigration “after the border” should be focused upon identifying those businesses who hire illegal immigrants and don’t pay the corresponding taxes and benefits.

This is hugely unpopular with politicians, because businesses are filled with voters. It is easier to confront individuals with no rights, no legal protection and no right to vote than it is to confront US citizens with the power to vote you out of office.

Every US agency that deals with the Federal or State economic development has voiced the opinion that immigrant workers are a required and essential part of the US economy and necessary for future economic growth.  Required and essential.

5.  Do nothing   This was the unofficial policy for many years.  Border control was present and legal immigration controlled but illegal immigration control was not enforced 100%.

The general US government view was that supply and demand would control the flow of required illegal immigration.

The economic and political cost vs. benefit of eliminating this necessary source of low cost labor was considered, and the reaction was tolerance and silence.

This is changing rapidly with the upcoming 2008 US elections.  It is an emotional issue and a polarizing issue with US voters, and emotional polarizing issues wind up being central issues during Presidential political campaigns.

The immigration issue is a hot topic in Europe, and new political faces are emerging worldwide trumpeting the issue of “preserving the culture” and “controls on immigration”.

It’s a sign of the global times, we are now able to quickly migrate anywhere.  Our government and society’s abilities to accept new immigrants is being challenged and overloaded.

We need to look at the fundamental causes of immigration, and determine long term global actions that will eliminate the need for people to leave their own countries.

At the same time evaluate current and new immigration policies and laws with a single focus; what is the best for the country, it’s growth, it’s future and it’s current citizens?

Related Links

Illegal Immigration – USA and Mexico 

American Immigration Resources on the Web 

Can’t make a decision 



7 responses

28 05 2007
Illegal immigration - USA and Mexico « Lee Iwan Accumulated Experience

[…] Observations on illegal immigration in the US, possible solutions […]

27 07 2007
mike B.

This problem is about economics. These new “imigrants” will take whatever the
companies will give them which keeps their wages down. I think that our young own young people should be kicked off the economic tit and forced to work up as past generations did. If there is a labor shortage, then let economic forces force wages to where they need to be. Yes, prices for goods will be higher but in the long haul we would all be better off because society is subsidizing that cheap labor with health care,welfare and the right to Social security benefits.

Mike from New York

25 08 2007

Hi Lee


I´m sure you noticed the blog “Mark in Mexico”, especially during the Oaxaca upheavals. The writer apparently ceased to exist in July, with a nonexistent email address. That is unusual for a “yahoo.com” address because it would not be cancelled until showing lack of use.

I presume Mark burned out and chucked Mexico.

Nevertheless, because he was so aggressive towards Mexican events, I have this conspiracy floating in my imagination.

Would you know anything about his blog?



5 12 2007
Larry Blasko

Politicians in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s plowed a fertile field for votes of fear and ignorance: Just knock Black folks. “Don’t be out-n—red,” was common advice to grab almost-bottom votes by shoving others lower.

But now America is beyond the tactics of fear, smear, sneer and snarl, right?

Not hardly.

Now the bottom is “illegal immigrants,” code for Hispanics, citizens or not. “Illegal,” now means “evil, criminal,” while bigots and demagogues piously declare support for “legal immigration” as segregationists once supported Blacks who “knew their place.”

Of the 12-14 million immigrants living and working in the United States without papers, most come from Mexico, but the festering stereotype infects anyone who looks Hispanic or speaks Spanish. “They don’t talk American! They follow their customs!”

As did Irish, Italians, Chinese, Eastern Europeans and others. Yet from “No Irish Need Apply” to New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a journey repeated over and over in America, and we need to remember that immigrants are still the foundation of our common home and future.

We also need to look at facts. The “illegal immigrants,” on average, work harder and longer than the native-born. Like all other renters, they pay their share of the real estate taxes that support most public schools; they pay sales taxes like everyone else and many who work on the books pay income, Social Security and Medicaid taxes without hope of benefit. They work for less, yes, because many live in the shadows and are easily exploited by employers. But don’t snarl at those evil “Big Business” exploiters: the numbers say that almost half of those exploiters are native-born homeowners or renters.

The 2008 presidential campaign, now in full howl and grovel, mostly lays platitudes on the serious humanitarian and economic issue of undocumented immigrants. See the megaflap over New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s suggestion that all drivers on New York roads must prove driving skills and insurance – you know, get a license. The hysteria from the “They Ain’t Like Us!” crowd killed that – a blow to common sense and humanity shamefully blessed by most of the “presidential” field.

Fourteen million souls who are a vital part of our economy deserve better, beginning with recognition and registration. I suggested one way in my recent book, “Opening the Borders, Solving the Mexico/U.S. Immigration Problem For Our Sake and Mexico’s (Level 4 Press 2007).”

There are others, but we must not create a new “Them” in a country that has struggled long for “Us” — E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) has graced our Great Seal and our great land. We must live up to that call.

Larry Blasko lives in Summit, NJ.

10 05 2008

Many people believe securing the borders with large fences is a way to keep people out and immigration to stop. I believe immigration will decline if these walls were erected, but who are we to decide who is allowed to enter this nation? Every person deserves the right to travel to a place that gives them the best opportunities whether it’s the U.S. or not. People have an understood right to obtain an education and to freedom which includes choosing where they want to live. Immigrants should also have the same rights as natives of a nation. This includes equal rights to good education. In order for a nation to become knowledgeable, the rationality of education for everyone must be in place for the U.S. citizens to think for themselves and continue to move forward. Education for all also allows people to make educated decisions when voting and not rely on the thoughts of others. Closing the borders would be detrimental and immigrants that do enter the U.S. need to have secured and equal rights.

20 06 2008

Immigration lawyers who make a living of making an ass out of the law are responsible for the influx of illegal immigration. Obviously they also team up with politicians who do everything in their power to twist the law , including tying the hands of law enforcers so they can get re-elected with immigrant votes. If the control system is flawed, there is no sense in expecting illegal aliens to fear anything with their illegal status in the country.

2 10 2008

Some do not realize that no matter where we were born we all come from ancestors of previous times and the nationalities of many lead back to Indian decent which were previously on the lands before Christopher Columbus but were invaded by immigrants that overcame the lands in search of the same dream that many Hispanics have today. We need to stop and think about our Constitution and the rights of all humans that are created equal and give liberty to those that deem to be responsible and recognition to those that are hard workers and appreciate those that have helped our economy survive as well as the families that they support here in the USA by leaving behind millions of relatives to cross a border and risk their lives just to survive and help others in need while cultivating America with their abilities. We also need to stop ticketing drivers that are not allowed a chance to survive in an economy they help to better in return for the dollars that they earned fairly although they do except smaller wages, the way to stop that is for Both Governments on both sides of the Borders to stipulate better wages and doc the Employers if not paid. This will solve some residents from crossing the border because the opportunity to earn a better wage on the other side will help in areas where there is employment. As far as healthcare goes Governments on both Sides of the border should come up with a truce for Mexico Government to pay for healthcare in the USA for a small fee for those that do not have status in the USA which will allow payment to Medical Providers and stop the healthcare crisis that refuses the care to those that need medical attention and are not able to pay for the bills. The Mexican Government could also fund some of the People in the USA that are Mexican if not working to help overcome poverty and aid those that are in search of the American Dream and have proven to be a responsible worker and paid their child support, taxes while working here in the USA. Also all Hispanic Governments could stop the issuiance of docucments for those that forfeit the payments of child support and are not cooperating with the system as stipulated for Drivers Licensing although all patrons whether Hispanic or American should be issued a Drivers License to help aid in the event of traffic collisions and stop the harrassments of ticketing those that have never been given an opportunity to achieve that goal but need to drive in order to obtain the income to survive with their families here in the USA and have children here in the USA and spouses that need their support not deportation or closed borders but a new system that will eliminate family separations and help the economy continue in success for consumers and the benefit of the community. Please standup and make a difference for those that have been biten for so long and only stretched out their hands to feed America with their on going support and help stop the abuse of human rights that so many have failed to give respect to our ancestors from long ago. Write a letter to the White House today and let them know that sharing is caring and that this Land was made for You and Me and it is about time we stop fighting but respecting those that are different and understanding that without one of us the Puzzle is not complete White,Black,Hispanic or other we all deserve a chance for a future. If the berlin wall was knocked down why not Mexico when they are our right hand and always have been. The Indians taught us to cultivate and eat corn,tortillas,beans and so much more and Mexicans are mixed from Aztecs and belong here just as much as we do. Martin Luther King had a dream and so do I that One Day all Will be respected for their abilities and their Efforts of stretching out their hands in hard work and given appreciation for it and not Outcasts because We are the People and are different but our differences make this World a better place to live and have made it what it is Today with the work of those that are stereotyped as immigrants because of man made laws and not the God Under One Nation with Liberty and Justice for all that is On every man made Dollar of the USA.

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