“America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.”
One thing I’ve noticed, particularly among members of the Republican Party, is an immense dislike for illegal immigrants. They view such immigrants as coming to this nation and soaking up all of its finest resources. The illegal immigrants take advantage of subsidized health care, welfare, social security, and a number of other social programs that our federal and state governments have set up. The people of the Republican Party generally believe that the illegal immigrants that are here now should be deported back to their naturalized nation and that fences and increased border security should keep out future illegal immigration.
On the other hand we have the democrats that believe that people should be allowed to stay in this nation that are here, we should just put a best effort forth to secure the borders. They seem to be the “defenders” of illegal immigrants by showing their kind-heartedness. Democrats generally do not wish to strip illegal immigrants of access to subsidized health care or any other form of social welfare.
As with most political agendas, both views create unintended consequences that end up doing more harm than good.
To understand the issue of immigration only requires the understanding why the term as “illegal immigrant” even exists. Until the last century, immigration was particularly easy. So long as you were healthy and able to work, you were allowed in. The first laws that restricted immigration into the United States arose in the 1790s. Still, anybody and everybody was allowed into the nation to work and be free to pursue happiness, only citizenship was restricted. The final version, adopted in 1798, did nothing to actually restrict immigration, it simply set up the guideline that people must reside in the United States for fourteen years before becoming a citizen. From 1798 to 1882 the only laws that were passed in the United States were those that made it easier to become a citizen, still nothing was done to restrict immigration. In 1882 Congress passed its first laws limiting immigration. The law limited the number of Chinese nationals that could migrate to the United States in any given year and also banned the entry of “lunatics” and carriers of infectious diseases. The limit on Chinese nationals was eventually repealed in 1943. Immigration did not see its first serious hit until 1920 when Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, which limited the overall number of people that could immigrate into the United States, broken down by nationality. This Act was replaced by the Immigration Act of 1924, then the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Both replacements simply updated and complicated the quotas. The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 served to eliminate quotas by nationality and simply limited quotas by hemisphere. In 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed, which, for the first time, levied fines upon businesses that knowingly hired illegal immigrants. There were more small Acts put into place which intended to hinder illegal immigration and there was of course the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which called for the construction of a 700 mile fence along the U.S./Mexican border. As you can see, the United States slowly progressed from having very open and free borders to attempting to shut them down completely. The United States was not the first nation to attempt to do this; in fact it has been one of the last.
So we finally get to the point, why is immigration illegal? The only reason, the only incentive for immigration to be made to be illegal is social welfare (some may argue that illegal immigrants take jobs away from citizens, but this argument is very flawed and will not be addressed in this article). When you and I pay taxes, a large portion of those taxes go toward paying the hospital bills and welfare checks of many illegal immigrants. This is infuriating to say the least. Especially when we consider, as we always hear many politicians tell us, that illegal immigrants don’t pay income taxes, and yet they can benefit from all the social welfare.
So what can be done to stop all of this? Well, most people would say, “Get rid of illegal aliens.” Let’s consider an example where the United States was able to effectively keep all immigrants from illegally entering the country. First, our goal would be accomplished, there would not be any more social welfare going to illegal immigrants. However, this gain comes with devastating costs. There is the obvious expense of Homeland Security and building a fence. We already spend billions upon billions on that and would likely have to spend more to make it perfect. Next we have the expense to business owners that employ illegal immigrants. Often times there are jobs that most American citizens would not find satisfactory and are unwilling to perform at the wage that those jobs command. Illegal immigrants, however, are happy to perform those tasks because these are the only jobs available to them given their typical disadvantages in speaking English and education. If these workers vanished then business owners would have to spend far more on wages to hire American citizens. These higher wages would bankrupt a number of companies and American citizens that once had high paying jobs would lose their jobs so that other American citizens could have low paying jobs. Tax revenues would not increase, they would actually decrease because it is no longer the income-tax-paying business owners that are making money, they would have either gone bankrupt or at the very least would be making less and paying less in taxes. You would have an effect where American workers making very little would replace American workers that were previously making good salaries. In essence, many Americans with jobs would have to take pay cuts or lose their jobs so that less qualified Americans could have low-paying jobs once held by illegal immigrants. Compounding on this conundrum is the fact that illegal immigrants spend money, and have specific sets of needs that the market has reacted to meet. The companies and employees that meet the demands of illegal immigrants would be thrown into a tailspin, further reducing employment and aggregate wages.
We are presented with a serious predicament between keeping illegal immigrants, thus paying some of their bills and expelling those immigrants and facing bankruptcy and lower wages for Americans. There is, however, a simple solution. Few people complain about the hard work that illegal immigrants perform without contempt. Even fewer complain that illegal immigrants gladly work in the blazing sun while Americans work in air-conditioned offices. What most every anti-illegal-immigration activist complains about is the social welfare that these illegal immigrants are taking advantage of. Hence, our simple solution: end social welfare.
Just one of the numerous benefits of a society without overwhelming social welfare is that illegal immigration will be of great benefit to that society instead of draining its resources. Once again people will be singing the praises of immigration, much like James Madison did. Most importantly, people will once again be able to choose where and how to spend their money without the government deciding for them.
Illegal immigrants do not utilize social welfare because they are bad people who are trying to steal from Americans. They utilize it for the same reasons that Americans utilize it – if something is given away for free it will almost certainly be abused. So, next time you hear a story about an illegal alien using social welfare without paying taxes, consider the root of the problem, not its product.