Monday, June 16, 2014

National Security, Immigration, and the Great Melting Pot

America truly would not exist without immigrants. However, these same immigrants have come to know this land as their own now, and some would like to refuse access to future immigrant.

Of course, their intentions are not quite as diabolical as that image makes us think. The vast majority of people who are against immigration don't simply want to deprive hard-working immigrants from the advantages of the United States and its economy. Instead they are concerned with the economic and national security risk associated with immigration. 

After all, our fathers weren't exactly the nicest to the native people when they immigrated here to America. So how are we to know that the immigrants that come into America will have the best interest of Americans at heart? How do we know that they aren't just terrorists who are taking the opportunity to enter America to cause havoc? 

This is indeed why we have a screening process. This is why illegal immigration can be such a big deal. We do need to ensure that the immigrants have pure motives of pursuing the American dream, enjoying liberty, bettering themselves, and not motivations to take down the government or the people within. 

But somewhere along the way, our screening process has become a bit too restrictive. You see, in addition to this legitimate concern about the the intent, the government has decided to that it needs to keep the immigrant community from taking over the economy. 

It seems simple enough, right? If too many immigrants enter into the country, then they will take up jobs that Americans need in the market, and thus cause problems in the economy of America. 

But Judy Gans, Director of the University of Arizona’s Immigration Program at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, explains that these workers are not taking jobs away from the American worker. 
"Noncitizens are filling some real gaps in the work force. This is a complementary workforce, not a replacement workforce. We have a larger workforce, so the economic pie is bigger.” 

Not only are immigrants not a burden on the economy, but indeed they support and strengthen our economy in very essential ways. As the Cato Institute reported,  
"Immigrants, today as in the past, come to America to work, save, and build a better life for their families. They make our economy more productive, boosting output by billions of dollars and filling gaps in our labor market. Large sectors of our economy, from tourism and health care to education and high tech, would be crippled if our borders were closed to immigrant workers. According to the National Research Council, the typical immigrant family and its descendents will pay $80,000 more in taxes during their lifetimes than they consume in government services."

Immigration is a boom to our economy, and great for our society. After all, without immigration, we would be without pizza, tacos, and hamburgers!

There is limited reason to limit immigration except for terrorist threats. It is paramount that we work in this area to secure the borders to keep armed assailants from entering into the country. But is that currently a significant problem in our nation today?

As of March 2012, the Pew Research Center found that there are 11.7 million illegal immigrants in our country today. Scary yes but let's look at the whole picture here. These illegal immigrants don't seem to be committing acts of terrorism, or increasing the number of crimes.

Indeed a 2010 report by Stuart Anderson of the Cato Institute found that immigrants (legal and illegal alike) commit far fewer crimes than their natural-born counterparts.

But still these people broke the law to enter into this country, so surely they will break the law again once they are here. Well, not exactly. Immigrants become illegal for various reasons.

Yes, some may have been denied a visa and found their way across the border. Others though fall into a far more innocuous category. Let's say someone entered into this country legally on a work visa, and then overstays that visa. Guess who's now an illegal immigrant? Let's say someone entered into this country legally, and moves within the same area without reporting a change of address to the INS. Guess who's now an illegal immigrant? 

Indeed the aforementioned Judy Gans explains,
"Our immigration laws are more complex than the tax code, which is something of an accomplishment. It is an inordinately complicated system that is expensive to comply with... These are the realities that are driving this: We don’t provide adequate legal channels for economic migration. If the legal channels aren’t there, there is tremendous pressure for workers to come in through another source.” 

We need to simplify our screening process and allow for a greater opportunity for those from other countries to enter legally. Yes, we do need to protect our borders and view illegal immigration as a crime and punish it accordingly. But let's be reasonable in our screening process. We are a nation of immigrants; thus, we should make it easier for foreigners to enter this fine country legally. Our economy (and our food) will be better off if we do.

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