The United States of America was founded and built by hardworking and innovative immigrants. Immigrants, whether legal or illegal, perform most of the dirty and arduous jobs that many native-born Americans are unwilling to perform. They are hardworking and taxpaying individuals that positively impact our economy and our communities. Many immigrants, especially illegal immigrants (those who enter the United States illegally or without proper documentation) work long hours and for little pay. There are over 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States who deserve a chance to have a good job, earn citizenship and become a legal member of American society. According to the Organization for U.S. Immigration Support, amnesty can be defined as “the government’s pardon for violating policies relating to immigration or politics” (Amnesty for Illegal Immigration 1).
The federal government forgives these individuals for using false documentations to more easily get employment in the United States and be able to remain in the country. Amnesties allow illegal immigrants or undocumented workers to gain permanent residency in the United States. In 1986, the United States granted its first amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, allowing them to receive a Green Card which could lead to the attainment of United States citizenship. Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is beneficial to the United States because it will bolster the U.S. economy, increase tax revenues, and allow millions of people to attain the American dream of homeownership and education, thus benefiting American society. For these reasons, all illegal immigrants should be granted amnesty.
Illegal immigrants are beneficial to the United States economy. They perform the necessary high labor and menial jobs that many native-born Americans are unwilling to do. According to the March 6th 2007 issue of Conservative Politics: U.S. , President George W. Bush was quoted as saying, “There are people doing jobs Americans will not do. Many people who have come into our country are helping our economy grow. That is just a fact of life” (Illegal Aliens: Helpful or Harmful to America? 1). Increasingly fewer educated, native-born American workers are unwilling or unable to perform the strenuous jobs that don’t even require a high school diploma…but immigrants are. According to an immigration policy brief written by Rob Paral of the American Immigration Law Foundation, it is evident that immigrants come here to fill available jobs by the “fact that, as of 2005, 94% of adult male undocumented immigrants and 86% of adult male legal immigrants were in the labor force.
Immigrants are already an integral part of U.S. society and an indispensable part of the U.S. labor force” (Paral 1). Illegal immigrants also contribute to the United States economy by purchasing American goods and services. They purchase houses, automobiles, as well as, patronize the local supermarkets and Mom and Pop stores. Francine Lipman of the Chapman University, School of Law strongly believes that “undocumented immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy through their investments and consumption of goods and services; filling of millions of essential worker positions resulting in subsidiary job creation, increased productivity and lower costs of goods and services” (Lipman 1).
Lower consumer prices are one of the many contributions that immigrants make to our economy. Annually, illegal immigrants contribute at least 300 billion dollars to the U.S. gross national product (Immigrant Workers: Making Valuable Contributions to Our Communities and Our Economy 1). Even though there are critics who are adamantly against granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, a survey conducted by the Social Science Research Network concluded that 85% of prominent economists felt that illegal immigrants have had a positive impact on the United States economy (Lipman 1).
Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will increase United States tax revenues. Amnesty will provide illegal immigrants with a tax identification number or a social security number. Thus allowing over 12 million non-U.S. citizens who are living and working illegally in the United States to file taxes and prove their economic contribution, as well as, document their residence. Amnesty allows illegal immigrants to file their taxes without fear of being deported, in turn more people will file their taxes, thus increasing tax revenues. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates show “that amnesty would significantly increase tax revenues. Because both their income and tax compliance would rise, we estimate that under the most likely scenario the average illegal alien household would pay 77% ($3,200.00) more a year in federal taxes once legalized; therefore, amnesty would significantly increase both the average income and tax payments of illegal immigrants” (The High Cost of Cheap Labor 1).
Everyone who works in the United States is required to pay taxes. On average illegal immigrants pay about $4,200.00 in federal taxes. Almost half of this tax revenue goes directly to Social Security and Medicare (Illegal Aliens: Helpful or Harmful to America? 1). Despite America’s strong history of opposing taxation without representation, undocumented immigrants are required to pay taxes, but do not have a voice in American society. They don’t have the right to vote at any level, be it local, state or federal. Nonetheless, every year illegal immigrants contribute billions of dollars in property, sales, excise, income and payroll taxes to federal, state and local funds.
According to a paper written by Francine Lipman entitled, “Taxing Undocumented Immigrants: Separate, Unequal and Without Representation”, she states that “undocumented [workers] actually contribute more to public coffers in taxes than they cost in social services. They also make unrequited contributions to Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance programs” (Lipman 1). Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants file federal and state income tax returns each year even though they are barred from receiving all government benefits including Food Stamps, Medicaid, Federal Housing, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security and the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a clear example of taxation without representation. Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would fix this social injustice in America, as well as, bolster the United States tax revenues because once legalized, illegal immigrants will be paying more money annually in federal taxes.
If illegal immigrants are granted amnesty then millions of hardworking people would finally be able to attain the American dream, thus benefiting themselves and American society. Amnesty will allow illegal immigrants to purchase property and homes. As a result, communities will be revitalized. Illegal immigrants would be able to set down their roots and integrate into American society. According to an article written by Sue Kirchhoff, entitled, “Immigrants Chase American Dream”, an estimated “8 million to 10 million foreign born people are in the United States illegally, lacking documents to get a mortgage” (Kirchhoff 3).
Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would alleviate this problem because they would be able to purchase homes which would keep the American housing market strong, which in turn leads to a healthy economy. Illegal immigrants are an increasingly important factor in the American housing market because by the purchasing of homes they are revitalizing inner cities, changing the appearance of suburbs and prompting subtle changes in home design, therefore, many economists believe that the United States housing market will remain strong as a result of the elevated rates of both legal and illegal immigration in the country (Kirchhoff 1).
Amnesty will allow illegal immigrants to seek and attain higher education which will ultimately have a favorable impact on the United States. According to a study by Keith Maskus, an economist at the University of Colorado, and Aaditya Mattoo, a lead economist at the World Bank’s Development Economics Group, “foreign students, skilled immigrants and doctorates in science and engineering play a major role in driving scientific innovation in the United States. Their research found that for every 100 international students who receive science or engineering PhD’s from American universities, the nation gains 62 future patent applications” (Anderson 3). Education plays a crucial role in producing successful and productive citizens. There is evidence that suggests that through education immigrants improve their lives and that of their children and have very little negative impact on the nation.
According to an article entitled, “Immigration Issues in the United States” in the March 1st 2004 edition of Eriposte “as immigrants leave school and become productive workers, they repay most or all of the cost of those services that they have received in the form of taxes” (Immigration Issues in the United States 3). Providing illegal immigrants with the opportunity to seek higher education is also a solution for ending poverty and foreign aid. In a June 19th 2006 open letter on immigration written by David J. Theroux and addressed to President George W. Bush, the author states that “immigration is the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised.
The American dream is a reality for many immigrants who not only increase their own living standards, but who also send billions of dollars of their money back to their families in their home countries-a form of truly effective foreign aid” (Theroux 1). Immigrants, both legal and illegal, add diversity and a fresh perspective to the American business market, therefore, by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants we are encouraging them to improve their education and skills in order to provide the United States with a more competitive labor force. In the end, amnesty favors both the nation and the illegal immigrants.
The United States would positively benefit from granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants because of the increased economic, tax and societal benefits amnesty would bring. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, contribute their skills, innovation, capital, and culture to the American economy. They have become an indispensable asset to America, both culturally and economically. The aspiration of attaining the American dream is what inspires illegal immigrants to come to America; therefore, it is unfair to hinder or deny them in their pursuit of happiness and prosperity. After all, our country was founded and built by the sweat and hard work of immigrants, both legal and illegal. Ultimately, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants benefits both America, its people and society.
“Amnesty for Illegal Immigration.” U.S Immigration Support. 4 Mar. 2007. 7 Mar. 2007http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/amnesty.html.
“Illegal Aliens: Helpful or Harmful to America?” Conservative Politics: U.S. 6 Mar. 2007http://usconservatives.about.com/od/theeconomy/a/illegalaliens.htm.
“Immigrant Workers: Making Valuable Contributions to Our Communities and Our Economy.” Service Employees International Union. 5 Mar. 2007 http://www.seiu.org/issues/immigration/immigration_facts.cfm.
“Immigration Issues in the United States.” Eriposte. 1 Mar. 2004. 6 Mar. 2007http://www.eriposte.com/civil_rights/non-citizens/illegalimmigration.htm.
“The High Cost of Cheap Labor – Illegal Immigration and the Federal Budget .” Center for Immigration Studies. 2004. 5 Mar. 2007 http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.html.
Allport, Allan. Immigration Policy. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers,
Anderson, Stuart. “The Debate Over Immigration’s Impact on U.S. Workers and the Economy .” National Foundation for American Policy. June 2006. 6 Mar. 2007http://www.meragefoundations.com.
Dudley, William. Illegal Immigration: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Green HavenPress, 2002.
Kirchhoff, Sue. “Immigrants Chase American Dream.” USA Today 5 Aug. 2004. 5 Mar. 2007 http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2004-08-05-immigrant-housing_x.htm.
Lipman, Francine J. “Taxing Undocumented Immigrants: Separate, Unequal and Without Representation.” Social Science Research Network. 15 Feb. 2006. Chapman University – School of Law. 5 Mar. 2007 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract.
Paral, Rob. “The growth and Reach of Immigration – New Census Bureau Data Underscore Importance of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Force.” AILF. 162006. 12 Mar. 2007 http://www.ailf.org/ipc/policybrief/policybrief_2006_81606.shtml.
Stern, Andrew L., Anna Burger, and Eliseo Medina. “SEIU Announces Agenda for Comprehensive Immigration Reform- Letter to Senator Kennedy.” Service Employees International Union. 17 Jan.2007. 5 Mar. 2007 http://www.seiu.org/media/pressreleases.cfm.
Stevens, Christel. “The Overlooked Value of Immigrants.” Editorial. TheWashington Post 3 Feb. 2008: 6Theroux, David J. “Open letter on Immigration.” Letter to George W. Bush. 19 June 2006. 6 Mar. 2007http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1727#1.
Toness, Bianca Vazquez. “U.S. Tax Program for Illegal Immigrants Under Fire.”
All Things Considered. National Public Radio. NPR. 5 Mar. 2007. Transcript. 10 Mar. 2007 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId.
Vargas, Theresa. “Pro-Limited immigration Group Links Gangs to IllegalResidents.” The Washington Post 25 Jan. 2008: B5.