For every course of action that one takes in life, there is a cost associated. This cost may be large or small but one can weigh this cost with the alternative before he or she makes any decision. In the essay, “The Price of Crossing Borders” written by Eduardo Porter, the concept of understanding that there is a price for everything is conveyed. There is no decision that is made or path that is taken that comes without some sort of cost to us personally. An alternate title of Porter’s article, “The Cost of The Decisions We Make”, responds to his views on this idea. He tries to persuade his audience that “by evaluating opportunity costs, we organize our lives” (p. 325).
In the essay, Porter used an illegal immigrant from Stockton, California as an example to help understand opportunity costs. The immigrant must make a choice on how he is going to get his children across the Mexico border into the United States. Porter stated, “The conversation laid in stark relief the type of bare-knuckle cost-benefit analyses that steer people’s lives” (p. 326). By this statement, Porter referred to the decision of how the immigrant will transport his children and the costs that it will entail. While the more expensive choice is safer, saving the money will take some time. The cheaper alternative, however, puts his children in danger and the possible risk of not making it safe or alive to the United States. Porter said, “The cost of taking any action or embracing any path consists of the alternatives that were available to us at the time” (p. 325). The illegal immigrant must weigh his opportunity cost of each path before making the important decision regarding his children’s lives. The debate on illegal immigration in the United States is well known and people have very strong views on it. While one extreme thinks the borders should be closed off all together and all immigrants sent back to their country, the opposing view feels we were all immigrants at one time and everyone deserves a chance at starting a new life in this country. Porter alluded that most people’s arguments against illegal immigrants in this country are fairly weak. He disagreed with those that argue illegal immigrants pose a burden due to the services they consume such as health care, food stamps, or lower the working wages for American workers. He stated, “most immigrants work on the books using false ID’s, and have taxes withheld from their paycheck like any other worker. They can’t draw benefits from most government programs” (p. 327). Basically without the proper legal documentation, illegal immigrants cannot collect welfare, food stamps, unemployment, etc. He also said, “there is scant evidence that immigrants lower the wages of American workers” (p. 327). Since most illegal immigrants work jobs that many Americans deem undesirable, they are really primarily competing against other poor illegal immigrants. If anything, illegal immigrants actually help many companies thrive or even exist. Without these immigrants, California’s agricultural industry would be nonexistent and many of the goods it produces would be imported.
Everything affects prices in the United States. Porter claimed that illegal immigrants affect prices but not in a negative manner. With a higher number of immigrants, some jobs such as gardening and housekeeping have actually seen a decrease in the average price of services. Though many politicians claim to be reforming immigration laws, Porter stated little will be done soon. Illegal immigrants provide cheap labor to many of this country’s thriving businesses. While the United States will probably not make it any easier for illegal immigrants to enter the country, they will also not completely do away with them either due to the enormous cost. In the end, all illegal immigrants must weigh the cost of their decision to enter this country against the cost of staying in their own. Is the cost of risking their life and their families’ life worth the chance at a minimum wage job and the chance for prosperity in the United States? Porter felt that based on the historical trend, many immigrants will continue to choose the more dangerous path for a chance at the American dream.