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SLCC

What Is the Real Problem with Regulating Immigration?

Steffany Vega Dominguez

History 1700
Ken C. Hansen
November 20, 2014
Salt Lake Community College

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Making the decision to migrate has never been an easy move. People from all over the
world immigrate looking for better opportunities for themselves and their families. The United
States has been known as the land of freedom and opportunities, but the question lies, is it really
true that this freedom and opportunity is given to all of the people in this nation? This question
opens up the issue of immigration and its policies. This also shines a light into, or creates the
question of, what is the real problem behind regulating immigration in United States?
Many have probably heard the phrase "the United States is a nation of immigrants,"
which refers to the history of this nation, but even when we are living in a nation made of
immigrants it seems as if we still have not figured out a fair way to control illegal immigration.
According to the demographic statistics gathered by the US Department of Homeland Security,
the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Pew Hispanic Research Center in 2012
the population of illegal immigrants in the United States is estimated to be approximately 11.43
million or 3.7% of the entire US population. The majority of these 11.43 million immigrants are
from Mexico.1
Let’s emphasize that these are not only statistics, but people that we see and interact with
every day. I personally belong to this statistic. Coming from a terribly difficult life, at the age of
12, I gathered my belongings to start following the American dream, a new opportunity of life,
and a chance to move forward. However, this has been a dream that sometimes turns into a
nightmare. Due to the lack of having legal documentation, I have been placed into a shadow of
struggles. These struggles have placed barriers in my life; however, in this path, I have found
out that I am not the only one fighting through these struggles. These are also struggles that
1

"Demographics of Immigrants in the United States Illegally - Illegal Immigration Solutions - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines.
Accessed November 20, 2014. http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000845.

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thousands of immigrants face each day in this country. In a personal interview, Marlene
Dominguez, an immigration paralegal for Bibiana Ochoa Attorney-at-law and an immigration
psychological evaluations case manager at Juan Mejia PhD Clinic states - "Many immigrants are
confined to do the dirty jobs, to work long periods at cheaper wages, and have very small if any
opportunity to enjoy freedom.” 2 All these immigrants are not eligible for any government
welfare. Now the question lies, is everyone still believing and living the American dream?
Again, these are not just statistics; these are people that are suffering over the problems
that arise from the lack of having a legal status. It is a presence that we cannot continue ignoring
and actions need to be taken to regulate immigration adequately. Immigrants are all around us,
coming from different backgrounds, races, and nationalities. The principal reason that most
immigrants come to this country is for the search for employment and a search for better lives for
their families. These are the people that, due to necessity and lack of education, are willing to do
the most physical and dirty jobs in our society. Further, a vast amount of these individuals
already come from low socio-economic backgrounds which guide them to these types of
employment. Their lack of legal documentation further aggravates their situation driving them to
end up living in the shadows of hard labor and low paying jobs.
The immigrants coming into this nation establish their life in the United States during
their journey. As a consequence, all of these hardworking women and men end up creating
families. This creation of families is made up of newborn American citizens with undocumented
parents. In other cases, these men and women bring their children from their country to establish
their lives here. These little creatures are completely innocent and have no real awareness of their
existence and legal condition or that of their parents' in this nation. The legal status parents hold
2

Dominguez, Marlene, personal interview by author, October 30, 2014

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affects these children for the rest of their life. These children are placed into the same life style as
their parents, where due to the lack of legal documentation they encounter a lack of opportunities,
a lack of education, and a rise in poverty that will follow them for almost the rest of their lives.
In many cases, even when their parents try to provide the best for their kids, the lack of
opportunity and credentials make it almost impossible for these families to obtain a better paying
job and extremely difficult to get out of poverty, encapsulating themselves into a circle of
ignorance. In the 2013 Census Bureau, results show that the Hispanic population in the US has
the highest number of children living in poverty (5.4 million).3
This poverty striken situation is destroying the future of this whole nation. A clear
example is shown in the U Roberto Romno documentary “The Harvest or La Cosecha” filmed
recently in 2011. In his documentary, he opens our eyes about the immigrant workers and their
familial situations, where their US citizen born children will be trapped in this vicious family
cycle and will most likely continue to have un-improved life conditions. He followed three of the
more than 400,000 migrant child farm workers in America who toil without the protection of
child labor laws. Perla Sanchez is one of the three situations shown in Roberto's documentary.4
Perla, a 14 year old, is a clear example of suffering in poverty and shows her life in the shadows
due to her parents' illegal status. “It is really sad to see all your friends that are going to graduate
from 8th grade, even when I was supposed to be on 9th, but see that you can't because you are a
migrant that has to work.” At her short age, Perla, a US born citizen, expresses herself with
these words. Due to the poverty of her immigrant parents that work in the fields, her dreams of

3

Krogstad, Jans. "Hispanics Only Group to See Its Poverty Rate Decline and Incomes Rise." Pew Research Center RSS.
September 19, 2014. Accessed November 18, 2014. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/19/hispanics-only-groupto-see-its-poverty-rate-decline-and-incomes-rise/
4

The Harvest. United States: Shine Global, 2011. Film

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being a lawyer are almost impossible. These young children are not only at risk of being poor
and lacking education, but are also at risk of living in the shadows just as their parents do.
Living in the shadows involves more psychological challenges than physical ones. These
children often live with the fear of experiencing family separation that could occur through the
deportation of their parents. This deportation could happen at any time and this is how they
would be left alone without their family.
Beyond the material things, the situations Latinos encounter here pushes them away from
education. Parents are only concerned with working and not with the development of children as
people. It is not their fault, but their ignorance and lack of education make it hard for immigrant
children to succeed in any other realm that doesn't involve low paying jobs. An example of this
is the college graduation rate for Latinos being less than half the national average, as displayed
by the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) in 2011. This is evidence of the lack of family and
parental education. Their parent’s situation makes their children's education goals as impossible
as mere dreams.
“Education is the key to success” was the quote I used to hear from my counselor and
professors. I would also see it every day in my High school walls as I used to walk to my classes.
But High School, the same place that made me feel powerful and think I could be “whatever I
wanted to become in life,” was the same place where more than half of my dreams were broken
due to my legal status. The denial of full time scholarships was just like the denial of my
American dream. Most of the times you stop and think “Why try if I can't get there, if I will
never get there”. It seem that we all know that searching and finding success is in education, but
the ironic part is that people in my situation are legally unable to obtain post-secondary
education or apply their knowledge to later make a contribution. This contribution to the United

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States will make a more educated nation that will improve our competitiveness to the entire
world.
On June 15 of 2012, one step opened up for all of these students that were facing barriers
to follow their dreams. Deferred action for childhood arrivals also known as DACA was
announced by the Secretary of Homeland Security. DACA benefited, for the most part, all of the
“dreamers” that could fill the strict guidelines and requirements. These guidelines and
requirements were not applicable to me due to my entrance date into the country, leaving me
outside of this benefit, placing me into the shadows again. However, this opened up the doors
for employment and education to millions of undocumented children that came into this country
when they were unaware of their parents' decisions. This is one of the steps that is slowly giving
temporary relief to those suffering from this broken immigration system.5
We heard President Obama realizing and talking about how the whole immigration
system needs to be changed. In 2013 we could see that no change took place despite his words.
Instead the country has experienced the highest record of deportations of immigrants. In just the
same year (2013) the Obama administration has deported 438,421 unauthorized immigrants6,
higher than any other president. These numbers include fathers and mothers who were separated
from their family, where most of the times their children are US citizens. These deportations
affect more than we can think of. The financial impact these deportations have is grave to the
economy. The government has not stopped to think and realize the risk in which they are placing
their own nation. As Marlene Dominguez said -“these parentless U.S. citizen children that are

5

"Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)." Homepage. October 27, 2014. Accessed November 20,
2014. http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca
6

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ENFORCE Alien Removal Module (EARM), January 2014, Enforcement
Integrated Database (EID), November 2013.

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left alone after their parent's deportation will have a lot of psychological challenges and anger to
overcome”.2
The National Council of La Raza along with the Urban Institute conducted a study in
order to assess the impact of immigration in children and the consequences left on them by
facing deportation of their parents. The research found that for every two immigrants
apprehended, one child was left behind and two-thirds of affected children are U.S. citizens or
legal residents.7
All these young children are the most vulnerable members of our society that need the
protection from all of us. All those numbers of children being affected are a big cry to all of the
members of our society and the people in power (government). It is a cry to those who have the
power of making decision in their hands towards better immigration policies. They need to wake
up and know that this broken immigration system is not only breaking the life of those “strangers
that broke the law of United States by coming illegally,” but it is also breaking apart the future of
the whole American nation.
We need to recognize that immigrants have been making a huge contribution to the
creation and formation of our entire nation. They have contributed in terms of building roads,
railroads, bridges, and the necessary infrastructure for life in this country and will continue to do
so. We need, as a society, to recognize them as part of our American nation. As President
Obama mentioned in his speech presented to the Sol High School in Las Vegas Nevada on
January 29, 2013 – “we forget our history, but unless you are Native American, you came from
somewhere else...Before they (immigrants) were us, they were them. And when each new

7

"Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America's Children." Www.nclr.com. January 1, 2007. Accessed
October 31, 2014. http://www.urban.org/uploadedPDF/411566_immigration_raids.pdf.

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number of immigrants arrives they face resistance from those who are already here.”8 In his
speech, the President explains the importance of immigration to the nation, but the interesting
part is when he states – “But we all know that today, we have an immigration system that’s out
of date and badly broken; a system that’s holding us back instead of helping us grow our
economy and strengthen our middle class”. Even our own president realizes that the
immigration system that we are applying in our society is not sufficient to relieve or solve the
current problem. It is very concerning and sad to see a reality where millions of families are
totally dependent on this broken immigration system.
We recognize that not all of the faces of immigration are Hispanic; these individuals are
coming from all over the world. Even when all of these people have a different skin color,
culture, and nationality, there is one concept that brings them together into this fight against the
broken immigration system - the struggles of begin illegally in this country.
The real problem in controlling immigration lies in the debate between: the immigrants
putting this “secure” land (United States) at risk versus their labor and economic contribution to
the nation. The debate opens up in how to manage the immigration laws when it also includes the
national security of this country. We could see the selfishness of those with the power. It seems
as if they are unable to see beyond the concept of "all these people broke the law of United States
and should be sent back to where they come." There is a situation to fix and all the government
wants to do is to continue to make irrelevant and exaggerated statement. One of these negative
concepts that are overly emphasized and not entirely true is “that those strangers do not pay
taxes”. Also, instead of looking for the well-being of America, they only care about their
political parties’ interests by dividing themselves as either conservatives or liberals, republican
8

"Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform." The White House. January 29, 2013. Accessed November
17, 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/29/remarks-president-comprehensive-immigration-reform.

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or democrat.
Why do I mention this fight between the political parties and the look for their interest?
Because my community experiences their interest when the gap between winning or losing the
elections falls on the hands of the Latino votes. In 2012, in the fight between President Barack
Obama and Mitt Romney9the media gave us the title of “awakening giants”. 24 million of
Latinos were now eligible to vote; this impacted and influenced the presidential election and
their campaign proposals. The political influence of these daughters and sons of illegal
immigrant parents growing in the population are now reaching the voting age of 18 and
influencing the path of the nation by their vote. Due to the Latino influence in the decision of
who would be in power, now we could see the interest in their campaigns of trying to get the
Latino vote.
In order to look for the good of this nation it is necessary to act towards a real solution
now. The illegal immigration is one of the main political and policy issues that the United States
faces and even when we know this, this nation has still not made a real solution. The real
problem begins in the ignorance about the contribution of all of these immigrants into our daily
life as well as in the American economy. The contribution of immigrants goes beyond its
evident labor, it also expands to their contribution to social security and taxes. Just in 2013, the
Social Security Administration reported 13 billion paid by undocumented immigrants and their
employers in pay roll taxes.10These millions of dollars come from every check of immigrants
who, as any other American, calculated their deductions for Medicare and Social Security. All of
9

.Lopez, Mark Hugo, Seth Motel, and Eileen Patten. "A Record 24 Million Latinos Are Eligible to Vote, But Turnout Rate Has
Lagged That of Whites, Blacks." Pew Research Centers Hispanic Trends Project RSS. October 1, 2012. Accessed November 16,
2014.
10

Lee, Esther. "On Tax Day, A Reminder That Undocumented Immigrants Pay Billions In Taxes." ThinkProgress RSS. April 15,
2014. Accessed November 20, 2014. http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2014/04/15/3426680/tax-day-undocumentedimmigrants-pay-taxes/.

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those billions of dollars are unclaimed money because due to the lack of legal documentation, it
will be impossible for them to obtain the benefits coming from their deductions and in most
cases the child tax credit.
On November 20th of 2014, just about 24 hours ago, President Barack Obama made the
decision to take matters into his own hands on regard to immigration. In trying to fix this broken
system he used his power as a president through an executive order to provide over four million
undocumented immigrants with a deferred program and a status in the U.S. This is what many
immigrants hoped and waited for when President Obama promised to fix this system in his
campaign. I will personally be benefited from Obama's executive action and I can say that 24
hours ago I came out from the shadows. Now, along with all of the Dreamers, due to the
extension of DACA, I can keep running towards achieving my American dreams.
Obama's executive action was a historical action; however, it does not provide these four
million people with a path to citizenship or permanent residency, an actual action by congress
needs to be taken for this to happen. This executive action does provide a relief to waking up
with fear. Obama has been trying to fix this broken system, but it is more than clear that he
doesn’t have the power do it by himself. He used what was in his power as a president, but after
his executive order there will be approximately over six million more who will not be benefited.
As we can see, the immigration system is still broken; we still have over six million of lives to
keep working for.11
We have experienced throughout our history that when we get together things can
happen, dreams become reality, and social change is possible. The lives of the rest of the
11

Parlapiano, Alicia. "Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Affect Millions." The New York Times. November 14, 2014. Accessed
November 23, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/15/us/politics/obama-immigration-plan-could-affectmillions.html.

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millions of immigrants that were left out of Obama’s executive order are still working hard and
making a contribution into our society. I can see and feel the changes towards the fixing of this
broken system, but it is vital for our Congress members to have unity and forget for an instant
their “republic or democrat” title and think about a safe and real solution for these eleven million
undocumented immigrants in our country.

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Notes
1. "Demographics of Immigrants in the United States Illegally - Illegal Immigration
Solutions - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. Accessed November 20, 2014.
http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000845.
2. Dominguez, Marlene, personal interview by author, October 30, 2014.
3. Krogstad, Jans. "Hispanics Only Group to See Its Poverty Rate Decline and Incomes
Rise." Pew Research Center RSS. September 19, 2014. Accessed November 18, 2014.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/19/hispanics-only-group-to-see-its-poverty-ratedecline-and-incomes-rise/.
4. The Harvest. United States: Shine Global, 2011. Film.
5. Hildreth, Bob. "Helping Latino Students Succeed in Higher Education." The
Huffington Post. May 9, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2013.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-hildreth/latino-students-higher-education_b_3237907.html.
6. "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)." Homepage.
October 27, 2014. Accessed November 20, 2014.
http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca.
7. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ENFORCE Alien Removal Module (EARM),
January 2014, Enforcement Integrated Database (EID), November 2013.
8. "Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America's Children."
Www.nclr.com. January 1, 2007. Accessed October 31, 2014.
http://www.urban.org/uploadedPDF/411566_immigration_raids.pdf

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9."Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform." The White House.
January 29, 2013. Accessed November 17, 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/2013/01/29/remarks-president-comprehensive-immigration-reform.
10. Lee, Esther. "On Tax Day, A Reminder That Undocumented Immigrants Pay Billions
In Taxes." ThinkProgress RSS. April 15, 2014. Accessed November 20, 2014.
http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2014/04/15/3426680/tax-day-undocumented-immigrantspay-taxes/.
11.Parlapiano, Alicia. "Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Affect Millions." The New
York Times. November 14, 2014. Accessed November 23, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/15/us/politics/obama-immigration-plan-couldaffect-millions.html.

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Bibliography
Lee, Esther. "On Tax Day, A Reminder That Undocumented Immigrants Pay Billions In Taxes."
ThinkProgress RSS. April 15, 2014. Accessed November 20, 2014.
http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2014/04/15/3426680/tax-day-undocumented-immigrantspay-taxes/
Parlapiano, Alicia. "Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Affect Millions." The New York Times.
November 14, 2014. Accessed November 23, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/15/us/politics/obama-immigration-plan-couldaffect-millions.html.
Hildreth, Bob. "Helping Latino Students Succeed in Higher Education." The Huffington Post.
May 9, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-hildreth/latinostudents-higher-education_b_3237907.html.
Krogstad, Jans. "Hispanics Only Group to See Its Poverty Rate Decline and Incomes Rise." Pew
Research Center RSS. September 19, 2014. Accessed November 18, 2014.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/19/hispanics-only-group-to-see-its-poverty-ratedecline-and-incomes-rise/.