For my white paper I want to explore the topic of illegal immigration in relation to jobs and the economy in America. Many Americans have complained that illegal immigrants are taking many jobs in America while other native citizens are left without jobs. Especially following the Great Recession, many Americans are without jobs, as current unemployment rate is at 7.8%, meaning 2.1 million Americans who are eligible to work do not have jobs. Meanwhile, there has been a constant flow of illegal immigration into America from all over the world, but the majority is from Central America. These people have found jobs in America while American citizens remain jobless. Is this fair?
I think that overall, illegal immigrants working in America helps our economy grow. Many of the illegal immigrants are working jobs that many Americans do not want or are “too good” for. Therefore, I think that in many ways they are helping our economy. However, a lot of the money that illegal immigrants make in America is sent back to their home country and therefore they don’t spend their earned revenues to stimulate the American economy. Additionally, they don’t pay taxes on their income, which means that they are living off of American benefits (roads, schools, etc) that they do not help to pay for.
For the government section of my proposals, I have found a source that explores the government side of this debate. I found a few different web pages from the White House website that describe Obama’s take on immigration. There was also a video included on one of these pages that is of Obama giving a speech on immigration reform in El Paso, Texas. From these pages I will summarize Obama’s intended solution to change immigration laws to better our country. I believe that this source is very reliable as it is the White House’s official website and therefore I will assume anything published on the site is what Obama stands by.
In June, 2012, President Obama announced his support of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is a legislative act that states if a child was brought here illegally by his or her parents and plans to stay in America, attend college, or serve in the military, he or she can one day earn citizenship. For example, we do not want immigrants who are in America and earn PhDs to be deported and start businesses in their home countries. We want to keep the knowledge and potential of many of the illegal immigrants within our society to better our economy and help us stay competitive with other countries. We don’t want the next Intel or Google to be created in China or India, we want it to be created in America.
Obama claims that the DREAM Act is “the right thing to do for our economy.” He also says “If there is a young person here who has grown up here and wants to contribute to this society, wants to maybe start a business that will create jobs for other folks who are looking for work, that’s the right thing to do. Giving certainty to our farmers and our ranchers; making sure that in addition to border security, we’re creating a comprehensive framework for legal immigration — these are all the right things to do.” In recent years, 25% of tech start-ups were founded by immigrants, which created 200,000 jobs, proving that immigrants do create jobs in America. Obama says that America should not punish innocent young people for the actions of their parents.
However, Obama does admit that there is an illegal immigration problem here in America. Obama also talks about how it is important to reform immigration for many reasons. His four main points on what immigration reform would look like are the following:
1- Secure borders and enforce the law. There are 11 million illegal immigrants in America today who are also trying to make a living and support their families; however, they have broken the rules. The borders need to be secured as much as possible, which Obama has been working on.
2- Businesses need to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. He says that the businesses that hire these workers pay below minimum wage and skirt taxes. This puts other businesses that do play by the rules at a disadvantage. Therefore, Obama argues that there should no longer be an underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor and suppresses wages for everyone else. In order for middle class family wages to rise, this underground economy needs to go away. Obama talks about how border security has increase over the past few years and he plans on keeping the border as secure as possible.
3- Illegal immigrants broke the law, and they need to pay for it. They need to pay in the form of paying taxes, fines, and learning English. They need to apply to live legally in America instead of cheating the system.
4- Stopping illegal immigration means reforming our system of legal immigration. It should be easier for smart, driven immigrants to stay in America and start businesses and create jobs. This ties back into the DREAM Act, which Obama is pushing to pass in the Senate (it has already passed in the House). “Immigration reform is an economic imperative,” says Obama. He discusses how there is often fear and resentment towards immigrants during hard economic times and people think that immigrants suppress wages for everyone else.
Lastly, Obama talks about how many undocumented workers all identify part of themselves as American and take pride in the country. These people want the chance to contribute to the nation that is their home. Obama also highlights how we are a nation of immigrants and that is how we started out here. He says “In embracing America, you can become American. That is what makes this country great.”