Friday, May 6, 2011
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In today’s society, immigration is almost seen as a dirty word. Because we are so close to the border of Mexico, people tend to assume the topic of immigration automatically refers to illegal Mexican immigration. To test that idea, fifty people from the county of San Diego were polled and asked to state the first word that came to mind when they heard the word ‘immigration.’ 30% said Mexico, Mexicans, or Hispanics, while an additional 12% said illegal. While there were a few answers like “hope” and “promise,” most people responded with a more negative response. Immigration is a much broader term, and includes more people than the average San Diegan might believe.
So, what is immigration, anyway?
Immigration as defined by the Collins English Dictionary (2009) is, “the movement of non-native people into a country in order to settle there.” It is not a new idea presented in this generation, it has existed for centuries. It has existed throughout history in all forms and within all countries.
America, for example, was founded by immigrants. Since the country was essentially stolen from the indigenous peoples by the settlers, it’s quite obvious that nearly all current Americans come from an immigrant background. According to the 2010 Census, only 0.9% of all people living in the United States are American Indian or Alaska Native. That means that a total 99.1% of the people living in America have ancestors that immigrated from somewhere else. These statistics go to show that white people are immigrants too, which people, particularly white people, don’t often consider.
Immigration is how the United States of America came into existence. Immigration is how you, your parents, grand-parents, or great-grand parents came to this country. Immigration has no race, color, or nationality. Look around, nearly everyone you know is an immigrant.
"Every Person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”
Doing it the Right Way
By Sarah Jones
People often say things like, “they can be here; they just need to do it ‘the right way.’ ” One misconception about the process of legal immigration is that it’s an accessible, viable option for everyone. Becoming a legal U.S. citizen is actually tedious, extremely time consuming and expensive.
According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website, you must follow numerous steps to become legal. First, you must obtain permanent residency through a green card. This can be done through the family, job, or refugee or asylee status. There are other specific cases such as an American Indian born in Canada, Cuban Native, or Victim of Trafficking, to name a few. Once someone has been a permanent resident for five years, then the process of naturalization can begin. This process includes an exam which has English, US History and Civics categories. So, even if someone is able to obtain a green card effortlessly, and is able to take the naturalization process right when they need to, which is highly unlikely, the process will still take at least five years.
A professional athlete, Pablo Infante, talks about his trials in becoming legal. “I have been trying to become a citizen for seven years now,” he says. He describes the process of first coming to the US with a tourist visa. “Just to get that I had to apply and then wait three months before even being allowed to set up an interview. The interview itself was about $100 and the phone call made to set up the interview cost money too; they have a special phone number that you pay to call.” They asked him for documents such as his Mexican Passport, his parents’ passports, proof of residency, and proof of employment. There of course is no guarantee of getting the visa after all that, but he was lucky enough to be granted his tourist visa.
He explained that, “the next step is obtaining a work visa”. He met with his first lawyer, who basically said he needed to be “some sort Michael Jordan to get a visa as an athlete.” He then met with a second lawyer who was willing to help him out a little more. His lawyer walked him through the process and they submitted a work visa application. After waiting several months, he called to check on the status and the immigration office informed him that they lost all his paperwork and he needed to start over again. “By this point I had been with Kristie for over three years, and had already proposed,” he said, “we were just waiting to get married until after I got my green card, because I didn’t want anyone to assume I married her for any other reason than love.” Because the process took forever, they ended up getting married.
In order to get his green card on the basis of marriage, he and his spouse had to attend meetings to prove their relationship. They brought in bank statements, bills, Costco memberships, wedding pictures, receipts from dates they had been on, Valentines cards they had given each other, just about every piece of paper they had that could prove they were a real couple. The immigration office did believe that they were a real couple and said they just need to run a background check before anything else could move forward. This happened months ago, and they are still waiting for his name to be cleared. His lawyer informed him that this process can take anywhere from a few months up to a couple years.
As the risks at the California-Mexican border increase, lawmakers are doing their best to make sure the border is not a threat to U.S. citizens. Most San Diegans are aware of the incidents and problems that occur at the Californian-Mexican border. With the border being so close, it is hard for most to ignore the issue. Among many issues that concern San Diego is the passage of drugs across the border into the United States, as well as the members of the Mexican drug cartels and gang members coming into the country. Just recently, a group of lawmakers that consists of both Democrats and Republican has been saying “no” to a law that President Obama is trying to revive. This law states that according to the Free Trade Act, both American and Mexican commercial trucks should be able to cross the border freely. However, some think that Mexican drug cartels will take advantage of this law and pass drugs into California. The lawmakers against the program state that their main concern is the safety of Californian highways and the possibility of illegal drugs being brought into the United States (Hawkins, San Diego Union-Tribune).
We as Americans are faced with the insurmountable costs of providing education, welfare and healthcare to children birthed in America by illegal immigrants. Tempted by the “American Dream,” female illegal immigrants have been known to deliberately cross our border in order to give birth to an ‘anchor baby’ to stay in the U.S. In addition, every mother that gives birth to an anchor baby in an American hospital has no medical fees. Why? Because our laws dictate that our hospitals cannot turn away anyone in need of medical help, regardless of citizenship.
In Parkland Memorial Hospital Dallas, the second busiest maternity ward in the United States, 70% of the women giving birth were illegal aliens. That added up to 11,200 babies for which Medicaid kicked in 34.5 million dollars to deliver these babies, the feds another 9.5 million and Dallas taxpayers tossed in 31.3 million. The average illegal patient is 25 years and giving birth to her second anchor baby. [Reiniers]
In addition, apart for the medical costs, there are the welfare costs.
“Last year in Los Angeles County alone, the anchor babies of illegal aliens cost taxpayers a whopping $600 million just in welfare costs.” [Schlussel]
Now consider educating children of illegal immigrants, each of these children receive free education provided by taxpayers. It is estimated that every child costs approximately $9,666 dollar to educate from grade K-12. That means that the cost of educating 3.3 million children of illegal immigrants amounts to $31.9 billion dollars. The costs don’t stop there; each school is burdened with a mandatory ELM program which amounts to approximately $3.9 billion a year. Then also consider that every illegal immigrant child who benefits from welfare also receives “$5.00 for 'free' breakfasts and lunches X's 180 school days equals: $5.42 billion annually.” [Department of Education]
All of these cost amount to one question. Who is paying for it? The painful reality is that you and I are. Every citizen in the U.S. pays for all of these costs through taxes so that illegal immigrants can have the luxury of the American dream without paying the price.
By Chandra Charette
It has been argued that Illegal immigrants cancel out the $113 billion deficit as a result of being in our Country through payment of Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Tax that is automatically withdrawn from their paycheck. The Social Security Administration estimates that “about three-quarters of illegal workers pay taxes that contribute to the overall solvency of Social Security and Medicare.” This information is based on the findings of the IRS, “One indicator is the 9 million W-2 forms with mismatched names and Social Security numbers it received in 2004. The IRS said the W-2 forms with invalid Social Security numbers reported about $53 billion in wages and about three-fourths of that, $40 billion in wages, had taxes withheld.”
The Reality: Although the theory that illegal immigrants earn their keep is splattered all over the internet, I have yet to find any studies or statistical data that can prove it. The closest answer I was able to find came from MSNBC
“Illegal immigrants are paying taxes to Uncle Sam, experts agree. Just how much they pay is hard to determine because the federal government doesn't fully tally it. But the latest figures available indicate it will amount to billions of dollars in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes this year. One rough estimate puts the amount of Social Security taxes alone at around $9 billion per Year.” [MSNBC]
The Reality: Although illegal immigrants do in fact contribute to our economy, it is very apparent that the numbers fall short of the deficit they cause. In addition, rough estimates aren’t real answers and they even state that the federal government can’t truly tally the amount going into our system. But for the sake of argumentation let’s presume just for the moment that this is in fact a viable claim. Keep in mind, illegal immigrants cannot tap into our social security benefits because they are operating under falsified/stolen identities, so this money remains in the hands of American citizens. Had this theory proven to be true, I would be obliged to agree that in this specific case, illegal immigrants do in fact positively benefit the economy. But one must look at the big picture. Yes, our social security system appears to be in a fantastic state. But one must recognize that this money isn’t redistributed across other sectors of our economy to counter balance the negative effects of illegal immigrants living within our borders.
We are currently faced with a continuously growing list of costs. For example, “The (FAIR) report found that the federal government paid $28.6 billion in illegal related costs, and state and local governments paid $84.2 billion on an estimated 12 million undocumented residents.” (Sixx, 1) Social security isn’t going to be covering these costs, we as tax payers will. Going into greater detail;
v Urban Institute studies found that illegal immigrants consume about $445 million in Medicaid funds. (Edmondson, 1)
v In 1994, 74,987 anchor babies in California hospital maternity units cost $215 million and constituted 36 percent of all Medi-Cal births. Now (2005) they account for substantially more than half. (Cosman, 2)
v Urban Institute studies found that “Illegal aliens in prison cost about $471 million a year.” (Sixx, 1)
v FAIR reports that“… $52 billion [is] spent on schooling the children of illegals. “Nearly all those costs are absorbed by state and local governments,” (Sixx, 1)
The point I am trying to make here is that despite the rise in funding for SSC/Medicaid/Federal government, there are still sectors of our economy that are in a deficit as a result of illegal immigrants. Sure, my children will have the reassurance of social security; meanwhile, hospitals will be closing their doors because of the high cost of providing healthcare to illegal immigrants.
Should anyone not meet these conditions; the individual has to wait up to 20 years due to the high flux of applications that are constantly received through the INS everyday.
Within the last few decades, LEGAL immigrants have been needed here in California and as the market demands, it cuts down on the flow of ILLEGAL immigration. By supply and demand as many jobs open, these people are needed for various positions.
According to The Supply of Agricultural Labor as a Factor in the Evolution of Farm Organization in California, “ a succession of immigrant groups such as: the Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, ‘dust-bowl Oklahomans,’ Texas Chicanos, and Mexicans have performed most of the work in California’s labor-intensive specialty crops” (Fuller, 1939).
Public policy has been a controversial issue in this nation and economic conditions in other nations have consistency to due diligence of labor-intensive technologies in U.S. agriculture. Many farmers have emphasized that only immigrants are willing, or even able, to do seasonal agricultural work. On account of a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Rural Development research report, a seasonal job entails working for about 25-149 days of the year that make up approximately one-third of the labor force and it puts in one-quarter of the days worked (Smith &Coltrane, 1981).
In addition, most immigrants are not so picky when it comes to their job title. According to Hall, et al in the article, “Legal Status and Wage Disparities for Mexican Immigrants” they said, “To benefit them in the long run, corresponding growth curve model estimates for low-skill female workers, separately by ethnicity and legal status. As was true for men, document Mexican immigrant women receive significantly higher wage returns to education than undocumented women. They receive a starting-wage increase of only .7 percent for each additional year of schooling” (Hall, et al 2010 p. 497). It is their interpretation that a documented woman who clearly has a high school or higher education does have a certain advantage of being paid more than an undocumented worker of the same sex.
For this purpose, it is motivating for men and women to obtain a high school and/or college degree in order to work in the United States. It is very important to have an education since hiring recruits would rather prefer experience and multiple skilled workers. Also, this discourages the influx of illegal’s arriving in the U.S.
Italy and France are coming up against more and more problems with immigration this year. While the United States is constantly experiencing conflict over its immigrant problem, Europe is starting to follow this trend. In the United States, people entering from other countries must have a visa (although in some countries, a person can get a visa waiver, but this only includes a select few). This is the U.S.’s way of keeping out too many immigrants. The visa process is long and arduous and can be quite a pain for someone coming from a foreign country for the first time. Leaders in the U.S. (and many citizens) fear that their country will become overpopulated if people are let in freely because many may stay and not go back to their homeland.
In the European Union, on the other hand, there has been visa-free travel across borders since it was implemented in the 1990s. However, now that Europe is receiving so many African immigrants into their countries, some are starting to question the visa-free policy. For example, in Italy, over 23,000 migrants have arrived since January. And in France, over 1,000 North Africans have been turned away at their border (Donadio, New York Times). In Italy, the main problem is so many of the African immigrants are coming to their country and are not being able to freely cross into other countries. Italy wants this policy changed, but they are being rejected.
“President Nicolas Sarkozy [of France] is contending with the rise of the hard-right National Front, known for its anti-immigrant stance, while fears about immigration are also shaping German politics” (Donadio, New York Times). The issues rising in the European Union are starting to mimic the immigration problems in the United States. While the E.U. has not even started to secure its borders the way the U.S. has, it is something that is changing European countries drastically. As the anti-immigrant group in France increases in size, this may mean some major change in France. After so much North African immigration has occurred very recently, it may have caused fear and resentment toward these immigrants (especially with the crisis in Libya) and this shows the similarity to the feeling many Americans have toward a large immigrant population of Mexicans.
By Desiree Colson
Immigration in Canada has come in a few waves throughout history, just like in the United States, the 1800s and 1900s being the most notable periods. Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world. The reason for this is that it does not restrict its borders the way the United States does. Many immigrants want to move to North America. Since it is not as easy to immigrate to the U.S., many choose to immigrate to Canada instead. While there is some illegal immigration to Canada as well as the U.S., not much enforcement occurs in Canada, making it difficult to keep track of the illegal immigrants in the country. However, Canada does not necessarily want to keep immigrants away from their borders the way many heavily trafficked borders of the United States (such as the California-Mexican border) are in charge of doing.
Canada also is constantly looking for ways to improve immigration rights in the country and make living in a new country as easy as possible, especially since the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002. For Canada, more immigration is more important than keeping immigrants out. Robert Vineberg wrote that “The reality is that our labor market and our economy need more immigrants. Let's stop talking about the obstacles to admitting the increasing number of immigrants that Canada needs and start talking about how to make the policy changes necessary to responsibly increase Canada's annual immigration intake.” Although Canada does require a visa for Mexican citizens to enter its borders, it lets everyone else in much more easily than the U.S. does. However, on the negative side, certain occurrences in other parts of the world sometimes influence Canada’s policies on immigration. Currently, there is a controversial movement under way to ban people from Islamic countries from migrating to Canada (Canadian Visa Bureau). This is something that is in a way echoed in the U.S.’s problems with immigration because there are many people in the United States who would like to ban certain groups from the borders of the country. However, only time will tell what will really happen to the U.S.’s and Canada’s borders and their immigration policies.
The United States was formed from an influx of immigrants. People began migrating to the U.S. over four centuries ago, and to date there have been tens of millions of immigrants.
The first major immigration wave, which happened to be relatively small, began in the 17th century. This is sometimes referred to as the settler’s wave. The main goal was farming and agriculture. Along with the settlers there were workers, too. Many people came as servants, with contracts for their work to be done in exchange for ownership of small pieces of land later on.
The next wave is called the mass migration period, which lasted from around 1820 to 1880. Just in that time frame alone there were over 15 million immigrants arriving in America. Then the wave became a flood. It is said that there were approximately 25 million new immigrants during this time frame.
In the following decade, immigration started to receive the negative rap it currently has. According to America.gov, “By the 1890s, many Americans, particularly from the ranks of the well-off, white, native-born, considered immigration to pose a serious danger to the nation’s health and security.”
This is when new laws were put in place to regulate immigration. The flood gates were closing to some extent. The National Origins Act which was first drafted in 1921 placed restrictions on the numbers of immigrants permitted to enter the U.S. It also took into consideration the person’s national origin.
Then the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 was drafted. It still restricted immigrant access, but was based on job skills and family. Those with a higher chance of entering the country were either skilled laborers or already had a family living here. Their previous background was not taken into consideration.
America would not exist without immigration. America.gov states that “Immigration, however, played a key role not only in making America’s development possible but also in shaping the basic nature of the society.”
While most people know America and what eventually became known as the “United States” as the “melting pot,” it can be considered a myth. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a melting pot as “a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole.” In the early 20th century, the United States was experiencing “the largest influx of immigrants in its history – Irish and Germans, followed by Italians and East Europeans, Catholics and Jews – some 18 million new citizens between 1890 and 1920.” (Washington Post). However, some may argue that in the U.S., all the cultures and races in the country have not been together to become a “whole.” One of the reasons for this is because most immigrants who come to this country prefer to keep their own culture close to their heart, no matter where they live. One way of looking at this is by observing the little “towns” that are spread throughout the country, such as “Chinatown” in San Francisco and several “Korea Towns” across the country. Not only this, but ethnic food (such as Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian) is very popular in the United States.
Sometimes the U.S. is considered a “salad bowl” instead of a “melting pot.” A “salad bowl” is best described when “…you hold onto your culture even after you arrive, and don't take on the characteristics of the new society, so that you have a mixture of a lot of different things, but you can still tell them apart like in a salad” (wiki.answers.com). Some people may argue that America is not a “melting pot” because of the history of segregation in the country, showing that there have been many times in U.S. history when the idea of a melting pot seemed impossible. This sheds a negative light on the idea of America’s melting pot, but since many immigrants prefer to take on a dual cultural identity (American as well as their country of origin’s culture), a “salad bowl” can easily be applied to the United States history with immigration.