Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Legalizing immigration?

As discussed in class a few days ago, illegal immigrants tend to end up participating in some kind of modern day slavery. Being an illegal immigrant does not necessarily mean that one will become a slave, but the lack of jobs and opportunities offered to illegal immigrants cause many of them to end up being slaves. Also, many of these immigrants are tricked and think they can follow someone to another country and then receive help and education from that “sponsor,” but instead they end up becoming a domestic slave and remain an illegal immigrant. And there is no way of documenting the number of illegal immigrants and domestic slaves because it is all done underground. I believe that the harder it is for immigrants to legally come to a country, like the United States, the higher the rates of domestic slaves will be. According to a 2005 Newsday investigation on the living conditions of immigrants in the New York area:
“In the city of Westbury (median income: $83,000/year) officials found twelve immigrants living in a basement flooded with sewage. In Southampton (median income: $64,000/year) officials found immigrants living in sheds with no plumbing or heat. In New Cassel (median income: $62,000/year) officials estimated there were dozens of "shift-bed houses" where immigrants literally rent mattresses for a few hours a day to catch some sleep.”
These conditions are the conditions of slavery. If immigration laws are changed and it becomes easier for immigrants to come, maybe the number of domestic slaves will be reduced. The more work visas that a country can give out, the fewer immigrants will try to come to that country by illegal means, making it hard to document the type of jobs that they take. With the requirements that we have now, it takes lawyers and money for many of these immigrants to find ways to come legally, and that is money that these people do not have. If we are able to reform our immigration system and ease our immigration restrictions it will make it easier for those who are willing to obey the law, work, pay taxes, and learn the language to be allowed in. Though restrictions should still exist, loosening the restrictions will make it easier for those that want to come for the right reasons to become legal immigrants, and if we put better security on our borders it would reduce drug and human trafficking. Because these illegal immigrants cannot get a job without some kind of governmental proof, they have to take underground jobs that lead to different types of domestic slavery. This slavery can continue because there is an availability of illegal immigrants needing to make money. The topic of illegal immigrations has been pushed back in recent years because of the economy and the war in Iraq, but even though immigration is not our top priority, I believe that it still should be a priority and it cannot be ignored.


Thach Truong said...

I totally agree that illegal immigration somehow helps modern day slavery perpetuate; however I do not think loosening immigration restrictions would really solve the problem. In her discussion, Ai mentioned the work visa issue and argued that “the more work visas that a country can give out, the fewer immigrants will try to come to that country by illegal means.” I learned from my research that unless there is a diplomatic agreement between the U.S and other countries (which allows workers to come to the U.S to work AND COME BACK), the only way for a foreign worker to come and work in the U.S is trying to obtain a type of visa called H1B. Again, like any other LEGAL THING in the world, it is not a free lunch, exactly like Ai pointed out; the government put many restrictions on the process of obtaining H1B. We can say that it is a highly selective process and if you can obtain one, you belong to the high skilled workforce which is in high demand in the U.S. Continuing with our discussion, let’s suppose that the government raises this year quota on issued H1Bs to an astonishingly high number. How many would be enough to stop the wave of illegal immigration (because the whole world wants to come and experience something called the American dream)? Another problem is that the government only wants to keep educated, smart workers (the reason why H1Bs application process is so selective), what is in their interest to allow low skilled workers to come into the country, lower the minimum wage standard (because they accept to do any kind of jobs) and take over all the jobs of their beloved citizens? I do not want to sound unsympathetic to illegal immigrants because I do think they are just victims of poverty and exploitation; they do need our helps. My point is that, ALWAYS, there is no free lunch, the democratic society in American fights for the interest of their people first before thinking of others in the world, and immigration is not an exempt issue.
One more random though before I stop my comment, if someday you pump into an illegal immigrant working like a slave in the U.S and tell him that he should not do that, and that he really has his own freedom in his country. What would you response to him if he says that being a slave in the U.S give him even a better life than living in his own country, that this is his choice?

Ryan Carroll said...

You are completely right, Ai Doan. It really troubles me that many people view illegal immigrants as "bottom-feeders" when they are just people trying to find refuge from a debatably fallen government which they played no roll. These people deserve happiness and opportunities throughout life just like anyone born here, and their birth in a country that is not the United States does not mean they deserve any less. The difficulty of receiving a visa is also a great point to bring up. They would not need to come illegally if they had the means to do it legally. It isn't like these illegal immigrants get joy out of being illegal.

I hate bringing up sovereignty in every post and comment that I make, but since there are designated boundaries, the land, established economy, and resources of the sovereign nation is not designed to handle an infinite supply of people. I just can't comprehend where the saturation point of America is. I would just hate to see the happiness of many be overthrown by the wish for happiness of a few. This sounds really mean to me, but I just want the most possible people happy at once.

kip geddes said...

The plight of the illegal immigrant is one that seems to have to solution in sight. There are theories and plans for how to allow people to come to this country legally to work and benefit themselves. If we allow more people to come to America and ease immigration laws, we will most likely see a surge of new immigrants that will eventually saturate the job market. There are already high rates of unemployment and have a shortage of jobs for our own citizens. I know people say that these immigrants take the jobs that no one else will, but the problem is once we legalize these individuals, the employers will be forced to pay them minimum wage and in many cases just might not be able to do that. I'm not against giving immigrants fair pay, but from there we go into securing them the same rights as every other American citizen and all of a sudden the American government has this huge batch of people it has to help support and protect and so forth, and I'm afraid this could lead to an overpopulation of sorts. There will just be too many people for the government to take responsibility for. It already feels like there aren't enough resources for individuals in the country, and we have to be careful in offering all the benefits of citizenship to such a large group of people because it appears as though it could bankrupt us.

ThomasJ said...

Illegal immigrants come to the United States in the hopes that they can earn money to support their families. Allowing illegal immigrants to gain legal citizenship status would force employers to uphold the same rights native citizens of the United States are guaranteed. This means that employers would have to abide by the laws of minimum wage. The government risks actually reducing the number of jobs available to immigrants by making it easier for them to enter the country. There is no doubt that, when presented with a choice between an American and a Latin American worker (at the same cost), an employer will almost always give the job to his countryman. Employers are only concerned about exploiting cheap labor and making a profit. Employers would most likely be against granting immigrants any kind of rights that would increase the pay they receive. Making it easier for immigrants to enter the US is also not much of an incentive for employers to treat immigrants better than they way they currently treat them.
The situation does not look good for immigrants. As of now, jobs in the US provide better conditions and better pay than the jobs in Latin America. Most of the immigrants are happy that they even get the chance to have a job here because it means that they are better able to provide for their families. Making it easier for them to enter the US may eliminate this opportunity. It is hard to say how the immigration problems will play out, but it is true that the United States cannot continue to ignore the situation.

matt jacobs said...

First of all, I must disagree with the reason you give as to why or how immigrants end up in some sort of slavery. I don’t think most immigrants are in this situation as extreme as you give, and I don’t think many of them are tricked or lied to into slavery. While that is definitely true in some cases, I think that most of the time they know what their labor will be and consist of, probably know that they will not get paid much, and that they (being ILLEGAL immigrants) will not qualify or receive any benefits like health insurance of anything of that kind. But they come here anyway, and willingly and consistently take the jobs that the rest of Americans seem to be too good for; probably because there is no hope of a corner office and/or a six-figure salary.

Also, I think that the government is stuck between a rock and a hard place in making a decision about this issue. Maybe immigration should be illegal (and enforced), and maybe not. It could be bad for our country and our citizens may not support them, but it is good and almost necessary for our economy. I imagine that they would lose and gain a lot of support no matter which side they may choose to take.

Scarlett D'Anna said...

Immigration is, and always has been, a sticky subject in America. There is a tendency in the U.S.A. to think of illegal immigrants, especially Latino or Latina immigrants, as somehow less deserving of the rights Americans are entitled to, simply because they weren’t privileged enough to be born within the States. Consider it this way: you hear of people living in the conditions Ai states above, with meager food and shelter, overworked and likely abused. Whatever response this elicits from you, does that response change when you learn that the victims are illegal immigrants inside the U.S. border? Is an illegal immigrant any less human than a legal one or a natural citizen? I am in no way advocating illegal immigration, but I do think this problem is too often organized with economic gain valued first, while people’s safety and human rights are a secondary issue.