Politics

Does the US benefit from illegal immigration?

WRITTEN BY
06/17/22
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Fact Box

  • Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 'in January 2022 there were 11.35 million illegal immigrants in the country — a 1.13 million increase over the 10.22 million in January 2021.'
  • The ACLU states that 'Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year and receive only $5 billion in welfare.'
  • 'Unauthorized immigrants' top countries of birth were Mexico (48 percent), El Salvador and Guatemala (7 percent each), India (5 percent), and Honduras (4 percent),' reports MigrationPolicy.org.
  • The ADL explains that 'the large majority of immigrants (77%) have lawful status. In 2017, 45% of immigrants were naturalized citizens and 27% were lawful permanent residents.'
  • 'Not all lawful permanent residents choose to pursue US citizenship. Those who wish to do so may apply after meeting certain requirements, including having lived in the US for five years. In fiscal year 2019, about 800,000 immigrants applied for naturalization,' says Pew Research Center.

Sheryll (Yes)

Over 10 million undocumented immigrants currently live and work in communities across the US, playing a crucial role in fueling the nation’s economy. When immigrants participate in the labor force, they help increase the economy’s “productive capacity” and therefore contribute to a rise in the GDP. This increase in the GDP then leads to income growth, which benefits both immigrants and natives alike. 

Immigrants also benefit the labor market by entering sectors that typically have a higher demand for workers and by taking positions that native workers cannot always fill. Consequently, their presence in the US arguably helps address bottlenecks or shortages that would otherwise restrict economic growth. 

America has also benefited from the presence of illegal immigrants throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as nearly three in four undocumented immigrants in the labor force are classified as essential workers. This is equivalent to around five million people who helped run food supply chains, support medical systems, maintain infrastructure, and provide critical services for all Americans. 

Experts also argue that illegal immigrants help address the issue of an aging US population, highlighting that the national birth rate has fallen by 20% in the last 15 years. This is concerning because low birth rates are associated with a shrinking labor force, reduced demand in some industries, and an overall less dynamic economy. Immigrants mitigate these concerns by providing the US with a larger supply of working-age adults and ensuring that workers make up a more significant proportion of the total population.

The inherent benefits illegal immigrants bring to the US thus cannot be discounted. They are a clear net positive for the well-being of all Americans. 


Elliot (No)

The United States does not benefit from illegal immigration, primarily because the taxpayer assumes the burden of these individuals. Even if one were to argue that illegal aliens do not directly benefit from government services (which isn't always true), they still benefit indirectly from other spending. Many illegal immigrants are willing to work for cash, often taking on jobs for less pay than native workers; further, they may not pay taxes. And, of course, when illegal immigrants see that it is quite easy to move across our borders without going through the necessary steps, further illegal immigration is encouraged. This, in turn raises the costs of border control and related programs--which all falls upon the taxpayer's shoulders

The immigration system should provide American citizens with a sense of control over who enters the nation. After all, it is their nation. When illegal immigration occurs en masse, it becomes impossible to vet and assess the various people crossing the border. Some might be criminals, while others might be simply unproductive, and both can put a strain on the taxpayer. Further, it discredits all the people who have gone through the necessary legal steps to enter the nation. 

Additionally, America has enough problems of its own to sort out--homelessness, poverty, and veteran's rights, chief among them--that it's illogical to make the case that non-citizens, who may drain resources away from these people, benefit the nation. Finally, illegal immigration creates a breeding ground for human trafficking, drug cartels, and even terrorism. Allowing this to continue puts our national security at risk in more ways than one.

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