The Illegal Immigration Issue in the United States
The Illegal Immigration Issue in the United States
Increasing illegal immigration is a considerable problem in the United States. Both preventive and interventive strategies have been applied to the problem in the past, including reducing the number and types of visas granted and returning illegal aliens to their home countries once discovered. Though efforts have been made, the number of illegal aliens in this country continues to grow.
The number of illegal immigrants in the United States continues to grow. In 2013, Koslowski maintained that illegal immigrants in this country made up between 1/4 and 1/3 of the total migrant population of 38 million in this country (4). About 60 percent of unauthorized immigrants are from Mexico, many of whom have crossed into the United States along the more than 2,000 miles that comprise the southern border (Koslowski 3- 4). There are a variety of strategies that have been applied to reducing the problem of illegal immigration, including reducing the duration of visas and parameters by which visas can be obtained. Research indicates, though, that non-Mexican illegal immigrants often pass legally into the United States and simply overstay their welcome, suggesting that changes in visa status may not be the solution to the problem of increasing illegal immigration from Mexico. As a result, existing interventive strategies need to be used in conjunction with improved border patrols to reduce the costs of illegal immigration.
Acknowledging that the United States is a country based on immigrant populations is an important part of recognizing divided views on immigration control. It is true that the “melting pot” ideal of this country is based on the presence of a range of immigrant populations and their ability to pursue the “American dream.” Divisions and the creation of a “them vs. us” mentality can be traced back to the 1920s and the emergence of a definitions that supported racial divisions. Brodkin reported that “scientific racism sanctified the notion that real Americans were white and that real whites came from northwest Europe” (30).
This led to a divided sentiment on immigrant populations and the marginalization of ethnic minorities. Since that time, immigration laws have progressed to include greater regulation of travel across borders, increasing visa requirements, and length of stay limits to reduce the number of foreign born individuals who come to this country and stay. Even in the presence of these measures and increased border security following the attacks of 9/11, large populations of illegal aliens continue to move into this country (Koslowski 4). From 2000 to 2009, the growth in illegal immigration resulted in an inflow of 1.4 million new illegals, more than doubling the undocumented population present in 1999 (Koslowski 4). Clearly, current measures have been ineffective in addressing the problem and the population of illegal immigrants continues to grow.
Researchers are divided about the best approach to reducing illegal immigration in this country. One strategy that has been proposed in existing research is to address the problem on a state-by-state level, preventing access to social services for undocumented populations and increasing the response within criminal justice agencies in addressing the population that has entered the country legally and overstayed their visas. Another strategy is to provide opportunities for undocumented populations to become documented populations before implementing tighter controls (Passel and Cohn 4). The third strategy is to implement greater control over the most significant border influencing immigration: the southwestern border with Mexico.
Each of these options contributes to the discourse on the issue of illegal immigration and the implications, but creating an effective strategy may require a combined approach. A major issue is that not everyone sees illegal immigration as an issue. In a 2013 Pew Center study, Lopez and Gonzalez-Barrera reported that positive views of unauthorized immigration in the U.S. Hispanic community have grown, with a large number of existing Hispanic Americans seeing unauthorized immigration as a contributory factor to the improved national orientation in support of Hispanic Americans as a whole. Growth in the Hispanic population, whether resulting from legal or illegal immigration, has led to improved responsiveness to the needs of this population.
While this perspective may be true, it does not address the underlying problem of illegal immigration and the subsequent social issues that result from the issue. Illegal immigrant populations are more likely to live in poverty, to experience social marginalization, and to lack education need to contribute actively to society (Jensen and Dost-Gozkan 4). As a result, there is a need for a response to this issue that addresses the entrance points for illegal immigrants. This may include interventions that address the presence of illegal immigrants who have overstayed their visas and immigrants who enter the country without ever intending on leaving. More completely, though, any new immigration policies should reflect the need to add protection and security to the most vulnerable border area in this country, the more than 2000 miles of southern border without the structure or manpower to adequately address the problem.
The problem of illegal immigration is difficult to address and protecting our borders is a large piece of the problem. Increasing protections at the border can reduce the continued influx of undocumented aliens in this country and improve our ability to focus on interventions for illegal aliens that are already here. As a result, a combined approach that includes both preventive and interventive strategies would be helpful in reducing the population and reducing the costs.
Brodkin, Karen. “How Jews Became White Folks.” Web. 5 May 2014.
This source reflects the impacts of immigration on identification and the “them-against-us” mentality that drives policy-making. This source provides some broad information on immigration policy.
Jensen, Lene and Dost-Gozkan, Avfer. “Adolescent-parent relations in Asian Indian and Salvadoran immigrant families: A cultural-developmental analysis of autonomy, authority, conflict and cohesion. Journal of Research on Adolescence. 14 March 2014. Web. Accessed 8 October 2014.
This source is a peer-reviewed journal article. It reflects some of the social issues that stem from immigrant status in this country.
Koslowski, Rey. “The evolution of border controls as a mechanism to prevent illegal immigration.” The Migration Policy Institute. 2011. Web. Accessed 10 October 2014. This is a peer-reviewed article that reflects the implications of border controls. This provided considerable data around the progression of border control measures in this country.
Lopez, M. and Gonzalez-Barrera, A. “Latinos’ views of illegal immigration’s impact on their community improve.” Pew Hispanic Center. 2013. Web. Accessed 10 October 2014.
This article is peer-reviewed and considered the implications of changing status for Hispanic Americans. This research reflects some of the implications of illegal immigration that are not perceived as negative. Passel, Jeffrey, and D’Vera Cohn. “Unauthorized immigrant population: National and state trends, 2010.” Pew Hispanic Center. 2011. Web. Accessed 5 May 2014.
This article is peer-reviewed. The researchers considered the trends in illegal immigration in this country, including entry points and national trends.