Illegal immigration in the United States is a form of social injustice. According to a Time Magazine poll in 2004, “89% of Americans think illegal immigration into the U.S. is a problem” (Miller). It causes the American people to unfairly take on the burdens of those people who illegally live in the country and use the benefits reserved for those people who are legally allowed to live here. Illegal immigration causes problems for healthcare, taxes, and crime.
One problem with illegal immigrants is that they most often do not pay taxes. While the argument is made that they must pay some taxes such as sales tax and social security this is not necessarily true or effective. Overall in 2002, illegal immigrants used $26.3 billion of government services but only paid $16 billion in taxes, as stated by Cynthia Becker in her book Immigration and Illegal Aliens (Becker). The sales taxes are very hard for them to avoid, but since undocumented workers usually have lower incomes they do not buy many luxury goods and therefore do not pay as much sales tax as a legal resident (Miller). Also, many illegal aliens send much of their money back to their families in other countries so it is not even spent in the United States which means no sales tax will be collected from their purchases. As for Social Security, many employers of illegal immigrants pay them in cash since they are not legally allowed to employ them, and as a result of this “off the books” work they do not pay Social Security taxes. This is especially unjust because of a new proposal for the Social Security Administration to begin allowing illegal immigrants to collect social security. While, under the new proposal, they are only entitled to Social Security if they have been paying the taxes, this would entitle even more people to collect money from a fund that is already running out of funds.
In addition to taxes, illegal immigrants also present problems in the area of healthcare. One of the biggest problems is that pregnant women will illegally cross the border to give birth in the United States. The hospitals are required to provide emergency medical care for the mother and the child and cannot collect any money for this since the immigrant mother is most often poor and uninsured. This also results in the child being a United States citizen and makes it much harder for the mother to be sent back to her home country. Another problem illegal immigrants cause for healthcare in the United States is that they can spread diseases. Because most illegal immigrants do not have health insurance, they will not go to the hospital if they can avoid it. Also, it could be determined that they are an illegal immigrant if they go to the hospital, and they could be deported. Since they do not go to the hospitals when they feel sick, they can spread diseases that are easily diagnosable or treatable. Immigrants can also introduce diseases to the country which are not normally found there. Because other countries do not have the same access to immunizations the people from that country can bring the diseases that have been eliminated in the United States back into the country.
One more reason that illegal immigrants cause social injustice is through crime. When they need more money than they can get from illegally working in the United States many illegal aliens turn to crime. According to City Journal, 95% of outstanding homicide warrants in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens (Mac Donald). It is much harder to catch criminals who are in the country illegally because they are not in the databases. Often they do not officially work anywhere, and do not have an address registered with any government agencies. This anonymity causes them to be hidden from law enforcement and makes it almost impossible for them to be caught for their crimes. Terrorism is also a concern with illegal immigration. Because it is so easy to get into the United States by crossing the Mexican border, that is the most likely place for a terrorist to enter the country. These potential terrorists would be untraced and we would not even know that they had entered the country because of the lack of documentation. After the September 11th terrorist attacks protection from terrorists became the main goal of the United States Customs and Border Security, whose mission statement is “Securing America’s borders from those that would do harm is CBP’s top priority. It deploys the government’s largest law enforcement work force to protect at and between ports of entry, supported by air and marine assets” (CBP.gov)
There are several possible solutions to these problems including building a wall, changing the immigration process, and having harsher punishment for employers. The “Great Wall of Mexico” is one option being considered, but it has some downfalls. While a wall would probably prevent many immigrants from crossing the border, and the small area that has been built has shown a decrease in crossing, it would be very expensive to build this wall. To build a state of the art wall is estimated at $4 to $8 billion by Homeland Security (GlobalSecurity.Org). A second option is to change the immigration process to make it easier to be a legal resident. This method would allow for immigrants to easily enter the country legally and they would be properly documented. This is one of the options being considered currently, but one of the problems with it is that it does not increase border security, so illegal aliens would still be able to enter the United States without being detected. An additional problem with changing the immigration process is that it will take a very long time to do and there is no easy solution for what to do about all of the immigrants already illegally residing in the country. A third way to help with the illegal immigration issue is by increasing penalties for employers of undocumented workers. This would give employers more responsibility for their employees and they would probably check their paperwork more closely and would not hire the illegal immigrants. If the illegal immigrants are not able to find anyone who will employ them in the United States they would not have the same motives to cross the border illegally. The penalties for hiring undocumented workers have been increased recently, but it is hard to tell if this has had much effect because in order to be penalized, the employer must first be caught which does not happen very often. This change also does not address the ease of crossing the border.
As can be seen by the issues of taxes, health, and crime, illegal immigration is a serious social injustice facing America. It is clear that something must be done, though it is hard to determine what the best option for curbing illegal immigration would be. While it is expensive, the end result may be to build a wall along the border since that is one of the only options that actually make it harder to cross the border. The expense of this might be worth it to protect the United States from all of the injustice that illegal immigrants cause for legal residents.
“Border Security.” CBP.gov. 1 Dec. 2008. U.S. Customs and Border Security. 5 Dec. 2008 .
Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Most Americans Believe Illegal Immigration Is a Problem.”Current Controversies: Illegal Immigration. Debra A. Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Naperville Central High School. 5 Dec. 2008
“Homeland Security.” GlobalSecurity.Org. 6 Apr. 2008. 5 Dec. 2008 .
Mac Donald, Heather. “The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave.” City Journal. Winter 2004. 5 Dec. 2008 .
Miller, S.J.. “Illegal Immigrants Harm America’s Economy.” Opposing Viewpoints: Illegal Immigration. Margaret Haerens. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Naperville Central High School. 5 Dec. 2008
NEUMAN, GERALD L. “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act 110 Stat. 3009 (1996).” Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. Eds. Leonard W. Levy and Kenneth L. Karst. Vol. 3. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. 1 pp. 6 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Naperville Central High School. 5 Dec. 2008
“The Cost of Immigration.”Immigration and Illegal Aliens: Burden or Blessing?. Cynthia S. Becker. 2005 ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Naperville Central High School. 5 Dec. 2008