Depending on one’s political, social, and economic affiliations, the issue of illegal immigration into the United States elicits serious and mixed reactions. Illegal immigration has been a major point of contention in recent election debates and government policy. According to the study, the United States has over 10 million illegal immigrants. According to reports, there are slightly more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants in New York City, accounting for about 12% of the total population (Associated Press, 2005). This paper employs critical thinking skills to examine why illegal immigration is a problem in New York City. The paper goes further to evaluates illegal migration causes and alternative solution and finally maps out a plan of action based on the alternatives.
The challenges of illegal migration differ according to different demographics, hence there are deeply multifaceted. Hence, this paper seeks to analyse the challenges and solutions whilst striving for a balanced and universal outlook on the issues. One of the most concerning facets of illegal migration has been the insurgence of criminal and terrorist activities. Illegal immigrants pose a serious security threat to NYC and the United States. With illegal immigration criminals and terrorist can easily infiltrate into the country and cause untold harm as evident in the events of 9/11. Another equally important issue with illegal immigration is its social implications. With an astronomical 11milllion people leaving in the United States as undocumented immigrants, it is not enough to rubbish them as criminals, since there are human beings who have in most cases been forced to illegal immigration by war, political instability, poverty and a search for better life. Currently, these people encounter untold agony in poor living and working conditions and harassment by law enforcement agencies.
Besides the issues of security and social justice, there has been a serious debate on economic implication of undocumented immigrants. With proponents arguing that they are hardworking people who pay taxes while opponents point to the huge outlays by the government towards undocumented migrants as a reason why there is a liability. Although, these two claims have not been conclusively substantiated it’s only fair that we strike a middle ground. Political antagonism and legal implications are also more reasons where there is a need for conclusive alternatives to the issues.
The causes of illegal immigration can be categorised in to two broad terms push causes and pull causes. The push causes are the factors that make the immigrants want to leave their initial homes, while the pull characters are the factors that make immigration an attractive proposition. Some of the most common push causes include political instability, abject poverty, and war. People are forced to leave war-torn countries such as Somalia and Syria and move into safer locations. To ensure their survival they must flee their countries for environments with more stability. On the other hand, pull factors include the availability of jobs, family reunions, and better living and working conditions. This combination of factors however not conclusive represent the basic and most common causes of illegal immigration.
One of the solutions advocated by proponents of migration is legalization of the illegal migrants to a legal status. They argue that giving legal status would give more freedom to refugees as their rights will not be violated anymore, since they already live in the US. This approach quite clearly solves the issue of illegality, however it is inadequate in addressing the economic and political concerns involved. In the past there have been conceited efforts to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. This approach has been met with massive resistance, since it amounts to rewarding crime and unfair to law abiding immigrants who have gained the status legally. Additionally, in the absence of stringent border control this is bound to be an incentive for more illegal immigrants thus escalating the situation instead of solving. It is therefore paramount that measures are put in place to incorporate a wholesome and all-inclusive approach.
Despite its many shortcomings legalization if done under a thorough regimen, maybe an appropriate solution. Today, illegal immigrants in the United states are allowed to become permanents residents and citizenship through the registry. For one to qualify under this approach they must have been living in the US continuously from the date of entry, pass a good conduct test, and not have been involved in criminal activities or in support of terrorist activities. This approach was brought about since there are specific instances where undocumented immigrant is far more beneficial than harmful. Another realisation for this approach is that it’s practically impossible to prosecute and deport all illegal immigrants leaving in the US.
In the recent past there have been numerous calls for enhanced border control at the southern border with some even going ahead to advocate for building of physical barrier to prevent illegal immigrants from Mexico, who form over 40% of the entire illegal migrants in the US today. This call though sneered and dismissed by some quarter pose a significant observation. The United States has a significantly large borderline thus creating a porous environment, vulnerable to illegal migrants. This observation thus points out to a need to enhance stricter and stringent border control.
The prospect of building a physical barrier across the 1,954 miles is one that has been debated widely. Research and study are being conducted by various bodies and institutions and if viable this would be an appropriate remedy. Besides, physical barriers government can send more guards to protect United states territorial boundaries. The government can also deploy the military to notorious entry points to enhance border control. The use of technology such as drones, cameras and sensors can also be deployed to enhance border security. This approach of controlling border entry can be very effective in curbing the influx of illegal immigrants. However, effective this approach there still remains concerns of social justices. Border control might also be hampered by corruption and human trafficking.
Many people across the world believe that moving to the US presents an opportunity for finding better opportunities in employment. They are others motivated by finding work which consequently is a positive for the economy since they take up jobs that other people would not take up. Statistics indicate that over 80% of illegal migrants take menial jobs and form a huge proportion of the unskilled labour force, (Sandler, 2017). It is therefore imperative that the governments develop a suitable program to allow specific workers who have undergone strict reviews and verifications to work and live in the United States. Proponent of this programs argue that it is much easier and cheaper to implement proper migrations program rather than implementing impractical solutions such as border control and deportation. The entry process to the United States can be clearly defined and anchored in law whilst ensuring high standards of strictness and thoroughness to prevent malicious individuals from gaining entrance. Additionally, the government should act thoroughly to ensure that the admitted immigrants do not overstay or violate the terms of their immigration. This can be done through purposeful documentation and tracking with help of technology.
One prominent program that has been evident in the United States lately has been E-verify which is an internet based application that helps employers verify whether an individual is eligible to work in the U.S. If the government ordered mandatory use of E-verify it would be significantly difficult for undocumented immigrants to find jobs. Once there are deployed of meaningful employment the immigrants no longer have an incentive to stay and those who have aspirations to migrate lack the incentive. While this may work to reduce their influx, it cannot be an entirely reliable solution, since some immigrants may opt to engage in criminal activities, thus creating more challenges than solution.
Of the four alternatives discussed in this paper, border control and legalization were selected as the most comprehensive, effective and humane alternatives of curbing illegal immigration in to the United States territory and particularly New York City. Through critical evaluation this of the various pros and cons of the four method the next few paragraph will be geared to formulating a viable action plan for the two alternatives.
The idea of legalization of illegal migrants been updated regularly by congress in accordance with the prevalent conditions at a particular moment in time. There is still need for the law to be continually updated for its effective application in the existing circumstance. The idea of legalizing undocumented immigrants is primarily based on the spirit of conditional forgiveness (Auerbach, Alan & Oreopoulos, 176). However, despite all the good will towards undocumented immigrant it is paramount that we recognize it is unfair to enable them to be rewarded for breaking the law. Therefore, a plan should be implemented to make sure that all illegal migrants before being granted a legal status should pay all the taxes accrued during their stay. Community services is also another possible means of retribution that can be deployed to ensure that the immigrants earn their stay. The large number of immigrants in New York City if turned an army of community workers could prove extremely advantageous considering the huge outlays by the city in maintaining community welfare.
Streamlining the registry process and activities is also pivotal in ensuring that the process is free, fair and just, (Gordon, 176). There should be conceited efforts in creating awareness in such kind of activities. On the other hand, eligible immigrants who do not take advantage of such schemes should be seriously reprimanded. This will be a significant incentive for immigrants to attain legal status, while also play a role in discouraging people those entering as illegal migrants.
The government can also adopt a rigorous border control regimen. First by identifying threats of illegal migration and developing a holistic understanding of the environment therein. The government can for collaborations with neighbouring government in order to enhance sharing of information and intelligence throughout the various agencies involved. Through sharing of intelligence it is easier to identify opportunities for improvement and growth. Sharing will also reduce strain on the already stretched agencies like the border patrol agencies. The government can also implement processes, procedures and policies to enhance domain awareness in the air, land maritime to monitor and curb illegal migrants’ influx.
In conclusion, it is clearly evident that illegal immigration is clearly a significant challenge for the United States and New York City. Illegal immigration has caused significant challenges in security, economic, political and social settings. Given that illegal immigration is driven by known push and pull factors, it can be solved and (or) mitigated. This paper has endeavoured to explicitly analyse four possible alternatives to it and finally provides a suitable action plan to implement these alternatives.
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