With the 2016 election quickly approaching, there are a copious amount of American issues that have been brought into the limelight. One of the issues that has been highlighted throughout the debates and political media outlets is immigration. It is without a doubt that the immigration system in America needs reform, but what kind of reform does it truly need? No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, there are some things about immigration in America that are important to consider.
Immigrating to the United States is a long and difficult process. If you are even able to obtain a green card, that is. Many Americans wonder why we have so many undocumented immigrants in our country. Is it because these people are criminals ,or is it because these people have no way to obtain citizenship legally? While this question is largely opinion-based and does not have one clear cut answer, one should consider how difficult and outdated the immigration process in America is. If you are not a high-skilled worker, someone seeking refugee status, a winner of the limited green card lottery, or someone with family ties in the United States, you're pretty much out of luck; it could take nearly 30 years to gain legal entry. Most immigrants want to come to the United States legally, but the outdated immigration system simply won't allow it. It isn't fair to say "just wait in line" because that's hardly ever possible.
Immigrants are not negatively impacting our economy. Most economists agree that immigration is actually beneficial to the economy. A common misconception that many Americans have is that undocumented immigrants are reaping government benefits without contributing to the economy, but this is not the case. Undocumented Immigrants pay taxes and are not eligible for most government benefits. It is estimated that undocumented immigrants will contribute almost $12 billion dollars annually in sales, property, and income taxes yet despite how hard they work or how much they may need it, they are unable to receive food stamps, welfare, or Medicare.
Immigrants are hardly stealing American jobs. Of course, immigrants take some jobs, but they also create more jobs for Americans. If immigrants actually took away jobs from American citizens, there would be higher unemployment rates in areas that have a larger immigrant population. There is little to no correlation between immigration and unemployment rates. Immigrants contribute great amounts to fields such as engineering, business, and healthcare. Immigrants who are undocumented tend to do physically demanding labor that most American citizens don't typically want to do.
There is no correlation between higher immigration rates and higher crime rates. Numerous studies have shown that immigrants — both documented and undocumented — are less likely to commit crimes or be put in jail than the native population.
Increased security has actually increased the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border. All the money that America has spent to make our borders "safe" and preventing undocumented immigrants from crossing them has led to more undocumented immigrants crossing the border illegally. Also, the issue of race and discrimination comes into play with border control; compared to the Mexican border, the Canadian border is largely ignored even though it is significantly larger. The strict immigration laws that America has put in place have contributed to a network of illegal smuggling across the border that puts people at risk of violence, rape, and even death. To increase border security even more with something such as a large wall would drain the economy of billions of dollars and accomplish very little. A large wall will only lead to larger ladders and bigger tunnels.
Nearly all of our ancestors immigrated to America and the fact that this country is built on immigration is something that makes it so unique and special. The first president of the United States, George Washington, said, “the bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…” So, as Americans, let's fight to make the immigration process easier for people of all races, religions, and origins who genuinely want to make America a better place. Let's build bridges, not walls.