Immigration is a core political issue that a majority of the country feels strongly about and regards as one of the most pressing problems facing the nation. According to the Brookings Institute, "Estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. range from 10.5 million to 12 million, or approximately 3.2%–3.6% of the population." In addition, the number of legal immigrants in the US amounts to around 85.7 million, or 26% of the total population according to CPS. Given the sheer quantity of legal and illegal immigrants, this issue is tremendously consequential for the country. The main differences in opinion regarding Immigration surround how and if we should let immigrants enter the country, how we should deal with legal immigration, and what, if anything we should do about illegal immigrants already inside the United States.
Some notable pieces of Legislation that have garnered significant controversy are the DACA and DREAM acts. DACA permits children who entered the United States unlawfully to apply for a government ID, a social security number, and a work permit. The proposed DREAM act is much more extensive and provides temporary conditional residency with a path to full citizenship.
Most Republicans favor strict border enforcement in an attempt to minimize illegal immigration. Many notable Republicans have maintained that illegal immigration hurts the United States economy since it allows non-citizens to take the jobs of working-class Americans without paying into the system from which they benefit. Additionally, undocumented immigrants are often given lower wages, incentivizing employers to hire them over their U.S. citizen counterparts. Furthermore, Republicans have concerns over the criminal component of the immigration debate, given that in 2015, 59% of deportees were felons. This means that while Republicans generally don't support immigration, the main point of contention is with those who enter the United States illegally. Concerning legal immigration, Republicans often hold similar but less strict beliefs. For example, a conservative movement known as FAIR believes that "reducing legal immigration from well over one million presently to 300,000 a year over a sustained period will allow America to more sensibly manage its growth, address its environmental needs, and maintain a high quality of life." Generally, Republicans view immigration as detrimental to the prosperity and safety of Americans. As far as current immigrant residents, Republicans are more concerned with what the DACA and DREAM acts encourage, not an immigrant's actual path to residency. The proponents of DACA and DREAM have come from both parties, although each with different conditions, meaning both parties have sought to give DREAMers an opportunity to attain permanent citizenship. Republicans' main issue with these pieces of legislation is how it circumvents the legislative branch, giving presidents unwarranted power. They also believe granting illegal immigrants amnesty when they've broken the law is ridiculous, stating that "A country fairly enforcing its own laws is not cruel" (ProCon).
Most Democrats favor a more open immigration policy than what is currently in place. They argue that immigrants will improve the economy by taking jobs that Americans won't and by potentially becoming entrepreneurs. In addition, Democrats commonly cite the belief of many economists that immigration actually improves the economy for everyone. They also argue that someone living outside the United States isn't worth any less than a citizen, and therefore shouldn't be treated as such by the government. This view that "no human is illegal" leads Democrats to accept immigrants without as many restrictions as Republicans. Democrats also point out the uneven distribution of wealth globally and claim that immigration can help reduce this inequality. Generally, the Democratic party supports the DACA and DREAM acts, arguing that deporting those who've been here since a young age is inhumane, and the loss of vital workers would cause mass societal havoc. The Center for American Progress project that billions of dollars of revenue would be lost in states like Texas and California, where the highest number of DREAMers and DACA recipients reside. Most immigrants protected under these pieces of legislation have lived in the U.S. since they were six years of age, suggesting that they most likely don't see their country of origin as home and have already assimilated to American culture. To deport them to another country, a place to which they have very little connection is seen as cruel by most Democrats.
- What effects does immigration have on America? Positive? Negative?
- Is too much immigration a potential problem?
- If so, what can the government do to mitigate this issue?
- What requirements should undocumented immigrants meet before being allowed to receive citizenship?
- Should an organization like ICE exist? On what grounds should an immigrant be deported?
- What cap, if any, should there be on immigration?
- Are the DACA and DREAM acts good for America?
Fall 2019, Dan La Botz-. “Ten Arguments for Open Borders, the Abolition of ICE, and an Internationalist Labor Movement.” Socialist Forum, 2019. https://socialistforum.dsausa.org/issues/fall-2019/ten-arguments-for-open-borders-the-abolition-of-ice-and-an-internationalist-labor-movement/.
“Legal Immigration | Federation for American Immigration Reform.” www.fairus.org. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.fairus.org/issues/legal-immigration.
ProCon. “Are DACA and the DREAM Act Good for America?” ProCon.org, June 18, 2020. https://www.procon.org/headlines/are-daca-and-the-dream-act-good-for-america/.