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On the Back of Immigrants

By Tristan Haddadi

The United States of America is a nation built by immigrants. The founders of colonial America were immigrants to America, and the founders of the United States were the descendants of these immigrants. Since the founding of the United States, waves of immigrants from all parts of the world have come to the United States, becoming citizens and productive, hardworking, taxpaying Americans. It is estimated that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, many of which came via the United States’ southern border and have no way of applying for citizenship without risk of deportation. I believe that all undocumented immigrants in the United States without a criminal history should be granted a path to citizenship as immigrants are essential to the economy and its growth; many families are at a constant risk of being torn apart by deportations, and many immigrants are fleeing violence and seeking refuge in the United States.

To begin, immigrants are essential to the growth of the economy and must be protected from deportation under the law. Everyday, undocumented immigrants work jobs that others would not. They work as babysitters, housekeepers, landscapers, construction workers, produce pickers, and many other unappreciated jobs. These jobs are very important to the economy and deporting these people would massively damage the economy. But one might ask, why should we give them legal status? In the essay, "Legalization of Unauthorized Immigrants Would Benefit the US Economy," the author, Marshall Fitz, the Managing Director of Immigration at Emerson Collective, gathers studies by many experts on economics and demographics to argue that immigrants help the economy. In the essay, he writes that according to Notre Dame economists Juan Carlos Guzman and Raul Jara, the passing of the DREAM Act, an act that protects minor undocumented immigrants, would add $329 billion to the US economy by 2030 (Fitz n.p.). Giving legal status to immigrants allows them to work legally and receive fair wages. They can also receive a higher education and work a better paying job, adding more money to the economy. If we take it a step further and legalize undocumented immigrants, the impact on the economy will be tremendous. According to Manuel Pastor of the University of Southern California, undocumented immigrants earn up to 11% more wages after naturalization. If half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants became citizens, they would add up to $45 billion to the United States Economy over 5 years (Fitz n.p.). Economically, it only makes sense to give a path to citizenship at minimum to all law abiding undocumented immigrants, as they already are involved heavily in the economy and naturalizing them only increases economic growth. Another reason why undocumented immigrants should be naturalize for economic reasons is taxes. Many undocumented immigrants already pay taxes, although they receive none of the benefits from the government. In 2010, undocumented immigrants paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes alone (Fitz n.p.). If all undocumented immigrants were naturalized it will greatly increase tax revenue for the United States. Immigrants also keep The Social Security Trust Fund afloat. It is estimated that immigrants, legal and undocumented, will add $611 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund in the next 75 years and cutting off immigration to the country will increase the Social Security Deficit by an estimated 31% over 50 years (Fitz n.p.). Many

supporters of mass deportation argue that immigrants, legal and undocumented, drain the United States’ social programs such as welfare. This assumption is a fallacy as studies that point to this conclusion do not factor in household income. According to demographers Randy Capps, Michael Fix, and Everett Henderson, of people at or below the poverty line, 32% of natural born Americans receive welfare, food stamps, or medicaid while 22% of permanent legal resident immigrants in poverty receive these benefits (Fitz n.p.). This statistic disproves the false assumption that immigrants receive more aid than natural born Americans.

To continue, all undocumented immigrants in the United States without a criminal history should be granted a path to citizenship as many immigrant families have already been or are at a constant risk of being torn apart by deportations. In “A story of loss and deportation in Trump's America:; 'My life, my house, my children. Everything in one second.'” by Joanna Slater of the Globe & Mail of Toronto, Canada, a heartbreaking story of an immigrant mother is told. Betty Morelos, a woman from Leon, Mexico, was deported back to Mexico in August of this year (Slater n.p.). She is a mother of four American born children, the oldest is 13. She had been in the United States for 16 years, working and paying taxes. Her children and husband continue to live in Ohio, while she lives in Leon with her in laws. She was deported because Trump changed the deportation policy to all undocumented immigrants rather than prioritizing deportation of criminal undocumented immigrants. Rather than give this hardworking, tax paying, law abiding immigrant a path to citizenship after living in the United States for 16 years, she was split from her family to a country she is now foreign to. There are thousands of stories similar to this woman’s, and there is a solution to all of them, granting a path to citizenship for all law abiding undocumented immigrants.

Finally, all undocumented immigrants in the United States without a criminal history should be granted a path to citizenship as many immigrants are fleeing violence and seeking refuge in the United States. In the article, “Human Rights Violations Persist in Latin America,” the author, Eric Olson, touches on the social, economic, and political conflicts that have fractured Latin American countries, leading to much of the immigration into the United States. Although many Latin American countries have shifted to democracy from the Authoritarian governments of the past, violent conflicts among cartels and government forces plague much of Latin America (Olson n.p.). Many countries use their armed forces to help combat cartels, militarizing society (Olson n.p.). Immigrants who flee to the United States illegally are seeking refuge from the escalating violence in their home countries along with better job opportunities to better the life of their families. Many of the conditions of Latin American countries can be traced back to interference by the United States, as the United States supported authoritarian leaders against communist leaders in many Latin American countries. These factors should lead the United States to sympathize with law abiding undocumented immigrants and granting them a path to citizenship to better their lives and the country as a whole.

Without immigrants, there would be no United States as it is today. Immigrants are the cornerstone of the economy. There are currently 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, many for numerous years. A large majority of these immigrants are in the

labor force and abide by the law as the risk of deportation is always present. All law abiding, clean record illegal immigrants should be granted a path to citizenship as immigrants are key to the economy, they currently live in constant fear of deportation splitting their families, and they are fleeing violence and seeking a better life in the United States.

Works Cited

Gundlock, Brett, et al. “A Story of Loss and Deportation in Trump's America: 'My Life, My House, My Children. Everything in One Second'.”The Globe and Mail, 3 Nov. 2017, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/a-story-of-loss-and-deportation-in-trumps-america/article36823723/.

Fitz, Marshall, et al. "Legalization of Unauthorized Immigrants Would Benefit the US Economy." Immigration Reform, edited by Noël Merino, Greenhaven Press, 2016. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010962209/OVIC?u=paci91811&xid=5eab9c05. Accessed 12 Nov. 2017. Originally published as "Immigrants Are Makers, Not Takers,", 8 Feb. 2013.

Olson, Eric L. "Human Rights Violations Persist in Latin America." Latin America, edited by Louise I. Gerdes, Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010596226/OVIC?u=paci91811&xid=7ad33908. Accessed 14 Nov. 2017. Originally published as "Divided States of the Americas: Human Rights and Democracy in Latin America: A Progress Report," Sojourners Magazine, vol. 35, Mar. 2006, pp. 29-32.