It is very tempting to view the United States of America as one big melting pot, as a country that will accept everyone. Although this ideal looks great on paper, implementing an immigration policy that grants citizenship to illegal immigrants is as harmful to the country as it is unlikely.
Currently, about 11.7 million undocumented immigrants are living in the United States. Allowing these individuals to become citizens of the U.S. would do great damage to the country’s already struggling economy. A study done by the Heritage Foundation found that each low-skilled household (that is, a household headed by a high school dropout) costs federal taxpayers approximately $22,000 annually. Although this number may not appear significant, over the 50 years of expected work the cost of this family would skyrocket to $1.1 million. Taking into consideration the vast number of illegal immigrants and their low levels of formal education, it’s not surprising that immigration reform may cost U.S. taxpayers several billion dollars a year.
On top of the fact that low-skilled workers consume more in government services than they pay in taxes, controlling and managing immigration would require many new governmental agencies. If there is one thing that Americans see every day, it’s the inefficiency of governmental agencies. If it takes hours to simply apply for a driver’s license, how long would it take for a bureaucratic governmental agency to assist 11.7 million now legal immigrants?
On the moral side of the argument, I think you would struggle to find anyone who thinks illegal immigrants should be denied basic human rights. Let’s take health care as an example. It would be wrong to require citizenship before being granted access to a hospital. However, opening up America’s hospitals to anyone and everyone puts an overwhelming burden on the medical professionals and a large financial burden on American tax-paying citizens. Obviously immigration and immigration policy fall under some moral gray area.
However, there is something that is very morally black and white in my eyes — no one should be rewarded for breaking the law. I realize this is a very simplistic understanding of immigration policy, but the fact that illegal immigrants enter our country and gain some sort of privilege by doing so is undeniable. How can any civil society function when the law is as blatantly disregarded as immigration law currently is in America?
Let’s return to the idea of America as a melting pot. I believe that this ideal should certainly be promoted and cultural diversity should be encouraged, however, not through illegal means. Perhaps making the naturalization process easier and providing reasonable assistance to legal immigrants is the best option.
At America’s founding, the country had one of the most liberal immigration policies in existence. Our country has supported immigration since its founding. I think it would be wrong to deny people access to the greatest country in the world. Ultimately though, it would be even more wrong to look the other way as individuals illegally gain entry to the United States.