You are on page 1of 10

Running Head: COMMUNITY PROBLEM ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Community Problem Report:


Elvira Medina
The University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Illegal immigration is a multi billion-dollar problem in the United States.


Historically, the Federal government has attempted to address the issue with various
amnesty and enforcement programs. However, these programs do not always address the
disproportionate impact on boarder states. While these states must comply with Federal
law, there are steps that they may take to mitigate the financial and societal impact.
Through implementation of laws restricting social services, aiding the federal
government as border security and working with foreign governments to educate and help
people who would otherwise illegally immigrate, the border states may a make
meaningful difference. Moreover, the implementation of these points need not
completely ignore the human and moral concerns related to the issue of illegal
immigrants and immigration.
Mitigating the Encumbrance of Federal Immigration Law
Illegal immigration presents a serious, persistent, and complex problem in United
States. The desire to address the issue is not limited to any single political party but has
been tacked on all sides (Porter, 2006, p.66). Rather, the differences tend to arise in
determining the best method for addressing the issue. The federal government has taken
an active role in immigration reform as its role of protector of U.S. borders. However,
federal policy has not always adequately taken into account consequences on a local and
a community level. Indeed, states in the southwest are disproportionally impacted by
illegal immigration policies. For example, the Department of Homeland Security reports
that over 70% of illegal aliens entering the country do so from Mexico (Simanski, 2014,
p.1). This, of course, affects mostly border states like Texas, Arizona and California.
These states takes on billions of dollars more in education costs based on the U.S.

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Supreme Courts Plyer vs Doe ruling that the children of illegal immigrants must get free
education (Porter, 2006, p.68). Despite federal policies to address the issue, the estimate
annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level is to be about $113
billion - $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level (Martin
& Ruark, 2011, p1). In addition to these direct costs, there are undoubtedly other costs
not easily accounted for such as opportunity costs for legal citizens. Consequently, states
must consider their options carefully and engage proactively in order to mitigate this
burden.
The Magnitude and Complexity of the Issue
Part of the reason the immigration issue is difficult to address is the magnitude of
the problem. The number of illegal immigrants in the country now exceeds 11 million
(Orrenius & Zavodny, 2012, p.85). This number has not diminished notably despite
several attempts to address the issue on a federal level. This presents a practical issue
when one assesses the amount of resources it would take to identify, prosecute, and then
deport the current illegal immigration population. Quite simply, currently, the amount of
people is beyond the scope of the current system to handle. As Krayewski notes in his
article, even attempting to do so would require a massive expansion of government
bureaucracy, particularly in the form of new government workers to round up illegal
immigrants, process them, and deport them (Krayewski, 2013, p.1).
Secondly, the role of illegal immigrants in U.S. society may be so integrated as to
have a serious impact in the economy if the status quo would change dramatically. There
is no question that many illegal aliens currently provide labor in various industries that
rely on low cost labor willing to do often difficult or menial work. Additionally, this

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

source of labor is more transitory than the legal workforce, filling needs in cyclical labor
markets that have become dependent upon them. Furthermore, the amount of illegal
immigrants in the current labor market help American businesses competes in a global
economy (Marietta, 2006, p.63). Finally, the issue is complicated by many moral and
ethical considerations related to uprooting millions of people who have already
established lives and families within the U.S. borders. Indeed, there are many who
advocate the right for illegal aliens to be protected based on humanitarian concerns
(DeCosse, 2010, p.61). For this reason, the amnesty programs of the federal government
have found additional support despite the financial implications borne especially by
border states.
Federal Attempts to Address the Immigration Issue
There have been multiple attempts to address illegal immigration at the federal
level. First, despite the magnitude of the problem enforcement through deportation
continues to be an active element of the government policy as noted in the chart below.
Considering that a vast majority of these immigrants are from Latin America (See Chart 1
below), this means much of the deportation activity must take place in border states.

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

In addition, various amnesty programs have been either enacted or proposed. Such
programs range from broad based amnesty for millions of undocumented people (e.g.,
Section 245(i) Amnesty of 1994), to country specific programs (Nicaraguan Adjustment
and Central American Relief Act), undocumented work programs and temporary work
permits (e.g., President Obamas current executive orders). Since the 1990s the Federal
government has instituted some sort of amnesty laws in 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2001
(Porter, 2006, p.67). Currently executive orders on immigration are currently being
debated and fought in the courts.
These amnesty programs have been set up to create a fresh start and often have
been accompanied with requirements for greater border enforcement. However, the
consequence has more often actually increased rather than decreased the number problem
of illegal immigration. For example, as reported in Porters article:
In 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) reported that the
amnesties granted in 1986, a direct result of the Immigration Reform and Control
Act (IRCA), has contributed significantly to the increase in illegal immigration as
immigrants enter the U.S. to join their newly legalized relatives. (Porter, 2006,
p.67)
Considering the relatively steady or increasing numbers since amnesties have been
offered, this raises questions of the effectiveness of the amnesty program.
Addressing The Issue
Certainly, states must not attempt to undermine federal law. However, considering
the disproportionate impact, border states bear an examination of legitimate ways to
mitigate cost is helpful. This can be done in three ways. First, states may legally limit

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

their burden through the legislative process. The state can do this by limiting benefit
illegals can receive, denying drivers licenses, and creating harsh penalties for those who
hire illegals (Kobach, 2008, p. 460). These steps create powerful deterrents for illegal
immigration, not only for those who would otherwise immigrate illegally in search of
social services and work but also for those who facilitate their hiring. Clearly an illegal
immigrants incentives are change if he or she does not have the ability to secure
government identification, is unable to drive, or collect social welfare benefits. Likewise,
an employer faced with the prospect of stiff fines and criminal proceedings is more likely
not to take the risk of getting caught. These steps can be implemented without prolonged
and costly federal legal challenges. These steps that need not ignore all human/moral
concerns (as provision of emergency medical services and due process would not be
impacted), but do not provide prospective incentive for illegal activity.
Additionally, the state can take an active part in supporting the Department of
Homeland Security in their efforts to enforce policies (Kobach, 2008, p. 461). This could
come in the form of providing supplemental troops or implementation of technology to
stop the flow of illegal immigration at the port of entry. Adding troop presence could help
stop the problem at its entry point and send a powerful message about the seriousness of
the issue to migrants and prospective employers.
Finally, as states are most directly affected by illegal immigration, there can be
realistic and honest examination of the roots of the issue. Despite arguments in support
of the rule of law, until illegal immigrants find a more hopeful path in their own country,
the problem is likely to persist. This means finding ways to work with and engage in
foreign governments to make life better for citizens, to educate people about the risks of

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

illegal immigration, and perhaps to consider programs that allow work on a temporary
basis but restrict long term social service. This not only addresses the practical issues for
a border state but also gives respect to the moral and ethical issues cited by proponents of
amnesty. As former secretary George Shultz writes, Yes, secure the border by helping
address the conditions that drive desperate people here (Shultz, 2015, n.p.).
This also means examining the labor structure currently in place to examine why
(or if it is true) that Americans will not work certain jobs. Ready employment is one of
the great drivers of illegal immigration and until the roots of it have been fully
understood, the incentive to cross the border will persist (Ruark, 2015, n.p.). Indeed, to
fully assess the human impact of illegal immigration, it is necessary to understand the
negative effects it may be having on citizens as well. By studying the indirect effects of
illegal immigration and the impact on citizens, the supporters of future amnesty programs
may be more nuanced in their support, and better balance the concerns of all parties.
There also needs to be greater organization in the gathering of support from nonborder states and their federal representatives. The education program needs to focus on
the added risks and implications that illegal immigration has for everyone but also
provide a reasonable emphasis is on the disproportionate impact border states such as
Texas and California absorb. For example, there could be further examination of
reimbursement programs from border states that can be implemented in future federal
amnesty and reinforcement programs.
Conclusion
Illegal immigration may be a national issue but it has significant and very real
local impact. While some financial impact cannot be easily eliminated because of

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

practical concerns, border states may still see benefits in examining their alternatives.
Nevertheless, the state must carefully examine its options for reducing such burdens.
Through enforcement aid, denial of service programs, stricter work penalties and greater
influence on federal policy, the state can make a meaningful difference in terms of
deterrence and financial stress while balancing with moral and human concerns.

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

REFERENCES
DeCosse, D. (2010). Ethical considerations support amnesty for illegal immigrants.
In N. Merino (Ed.), What rights should illegal immigrants have? (pp. 59-64).
Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
Kobach, K. W., (2008). Reinforcing the rule of law: what states can and should do to
reduce illegal immigration. Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. 22, 459-483.
Krayewski, E. (2013, February 7). 5 Reasons to Grant Amnesty to Illegal Immigrants.
Reasons. pp 1-5. Retrieved from http://reason.com/archives/2013/02/07/5reasons-for-amnesty-for-illegal-immigr/4.
Marietta, M., (2006). Undocumented immigrants should receive social services.
International Social Science Review. 81(1/2), 61-66.
Martin, J. & Ruark, E. A. (February, 2011). The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on
United States Taxpayers. Immigration Issues. Retrieved April 10, 2015, from
http://www.fairus.org/DocServer/USCostStudy_2010.pdf.
Orrenius, P. & Zavodny, M., (2012). The economic consequences of amnesty for
unauthorized immigrants. Gato Journal, 31(1), 85-102.
Porter, L., (2006). Illegal immigrants should not receive social services.
International Social Science Review, 81(1/2), 66-72.
Ruark, E.A. (2015, January 30). White House Report Confirms President Obamas
Executive Actions Will Harm American Workers, Taxpayers. Immigration Issues.
Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.fairus.org/issue/white-house-reportShultz, G. (2015, March 05). Getting at the Roots of Illegal Immigration. Wall Street
Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/

COMMUNITY PROBLEM REPORT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

10

Simanski, J. F. (September, 2014). Immigration enforcement actions:


2013. Dhs.gov.
Retrieved from
https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ois_enforceme
nt_ar_2013.pdf.