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The Immigration Debate: A critical Analysis

Jason Crews

LAS 30012 Prosiminar

August 1, 2007
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The debate about illegal immigration is not a new one, however due to Congress’s recent failure

to pass any law defining the status of the immigrants or establishing a regulation curtailing their flow

into the country has forced the issues to the forefront of the news in recent weeks. (Currie, 2007,

para.3) As a result many states have taken it upon themselves to solve the problem. Arizona for

example has enacted some of the strictest regulations in the country threatening fine, loss of business

license or both if a business is caught knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. Arizona has even gone as far

as establishing a hotline to report suspected illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants and business alike

oppose this and seemingly any regulation. Business claim immigration is a federal issue and needs to be

dealt with on the federal level, while the illegal immigrants are making a more emotional argument

clamming they work very hard for low wages to earn money to feed their family, and there isn’t

anything wrong with that. Regardless of one’s views on the issue it is important to evaluate both sides


The Anti-Immigration Case

The immigration debate is not a new one, but according to Currie republicans and democrats

have been bickering over a bill to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in

the U.S. (2007, para. 3). After the legislation failed to pass last month many states have acted on their

own to establish local legislations to regulate illegal immigration. There are several reasons people feel

so strong about enacting some form of immigration regulation. According to George Weissinger ,

“Characterizations of the illegal alien range from the sympathetic to the xenophobic (para. 2) .” one of

the most common arguments is state that they are an unnessiary burden on our legal system, and with

statistics like “In 2002, the INS apprehended 1,062,279 deportable aliens in the United States and 94%

of those apprehensions were from Mexico. Between 1987 and 2002, the average number of Mexican
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apprehensions in New York rose to 18.4% (Weissinger, 2003),” and according to and the

Investor’s Business Daily “The U.S. Justice Department estimated that 270,000 illegal immigrants

served jail time nationally in 2003. Some estimates show illegals now make up half of California's prison

population, creating a massive criminal subculture that strains state budgets and creates a nightmare for

local police forces. “(Justice, 2007, para. 4)

In response to these and other problems Arizona has enacted some of the most stringent

regulations in the nation. The new law contains two features for employers. One is a new prohibition

on barring employers from knowingly or intentionally hiring illegal aliens and the other is a requirement

that employers use the federal government’s Basic Pilot Program to verify employee work eligibility

(Arizona, 2007, paras. 3-4 ).

Arizona isn’t the only state to have acted recently. County supervisors in Prince William County,

Virginia, voted unanimously to approve a resolution that targets illegal immigrants by attempting to

curb their access to public services and increasing immigration enforcement by local police. (Mirnoff,

2007, para 1) These regulations are replacements of previously passed resolution that would have

required officers to check the residency status of anyone who breaks the law, no matter how minor

(Mirnoff, 2007, para. 5) . Hazleton Pennsylvania required all prospective renters to obtain a residency

permit at city hall. If the municipal crews doing background checks cannot confirm they are UNITED

STATES citizens or are in the country legally, they will be prohibited from living in Hazleton (Simonich,

2006, para. 5).

These new regulations are not without their opposition, however. In a 206 page ruling “A U.S.

District Court Judge struck down a Hazelton Pennsylvania law designed to crackdown on illegal

immigration declaring it “unconstitutional”. U.S. District Judge James Munley said the city was not

allowed to implement the law that would fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants and penalize
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landlords who rent rooms to them.” (Wilson, 2007, para. 1, 4) In Arizona, businesses have banned

together saying that the new regulations will penalize legitimate employers for unintentional mistakes

Sunnucks, 2007, para. 3). Two business groups sued the state Friday to block a new employer-sanctions

law from ever taking effect. They have also filed a lawsuit contending that the measure illegally intrudes

on issues of immigration, which are exclusively the purview of the federal government (Fischer, 2007, a).

While no lawsuits have been filed opposing the new regulations in Virginia, protests in the area have

already been staged (Mirnof, 2007, para. 9).

The Case for Immigration

Many, including President Bush and others in congress, have favored the “2007 Immigration

Reform and Amnesty “. The proposed bill would allow, amongst other things, immigrants to come

forward immediately and receive probationary legal status, and undocumented immigrants could be

allowed to adjust status to lawful permanent if they pay $5,000 in fees and fines and their head of

household returns to their home country (Immigration Reform, 2007, para 3). After passing the Senate

President Bush said “I applaud the House for working in a bipartisan fashion to pass legislation that

strengthens border security while recognizing the importance of keeping families together and making

America a more welcome society.” (Vlahos, 2007, para. 2002)President Bush’s sentiment seems to

reflect that of many of undocumented immigrants in the United States. The say they have “built our

homes; they have built our roads.” (Mirnoff, 2007, para 16) Implying they do many of the jobs that

documented workers are unwilling to do.

To make the debate even more complicated, children born from undocumented immigrants in

the United States are considered citizens and, there for, entitled to all the protections and benefits

associated with normal citizenry. According to Scholastic News about 3 million kids in the United States

who are citizens have either one parent or both who are not citizens. Their parents entered United
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States illegally (2007, p. 10). This forces authorities to deport the citizen children along with their

parents, or deporting their parents and leaving the children citizens here further compounding the

burden on social services.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing undocumented workers is their undocumented status.

Politicians represent voters and those voters interest. Because undocumented works cannot vote they

find themselves lacking effective representation for their issues in the various government agencies.

This however has not stopped them from attempting to have their voices heard. According to Howard

Fischer of the East Valley Tribune, “An organizer of two marches for immigration reform is planning a

Hispanic boycott of jobs during next year’s Super Bowl week in hopes of crippling the state’s restaurant

and hotel industry.” It is their hope that the boycott will raise awareness of the contributions the

undocumented work force makes. (2007 b, para. 1)


Both sides of the debate seem to be able to agree on one issue, and that issue is that some

changes need to be made in current policy. Their stance dictates how they feel what changes and how

those changes should be made. The current situation is not dissimilar to other immigration debates

throughout our history as a nation, and in time some form of resolution will be found. Each side of the

debate has it‘s own problems, and only with time will we, as a society, be able to look back and

determine which side of the debate, if any, was correct.

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2007 Immigration Reform and Amnesty. United States Immigration Support. Retrieved August 1, 2007


Arizona enacts nation’s strictest immigration law. Business and Legal Reports. (2007, July 11).

Retived July 11, 2007 from

Cobral, E. (2007, May 7). For some U.S. kids, the big immigration debate is a family matter. Scholastic

News. Retrieved July 25, 2007 from EBSCOHost database.

Fischer, H. (2007, July 14 a). Business groups sue state over hiring law. AZStarNet. Retrieved August 1,

2008 from

Fischer, H. (2007, July 21 b). Immigration reform activist plans Super Bowl boycott. The East Valley

Tribune. Retrived August 1, 2007 from

Justice Dept. Figures on Incarcerated Illegals. (2006, March 27). Retrieved August 1,

2007 from

Mirnoff, N. (2007, July 11). Pr. William Passes resolution targeting illegal immigration. The Washington

Post. Retrieved July 11, 2007 from


Simonich, M. (2006, August 27). Hazleton ordinance aimed at illegal immigrants puts mayor at center

stage. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 1, 2007 from

Sunnucks, M. (2007, July 24). Employer sanction driver fires back at critics of new state law. The

Buisness Journal of Phoenix. Retrieved July 25, 2007 from

Weissinger, G. (2003, November 7). The Illegal Alien Problem: Enforcing the Immigration Laws.

New York Institute of Technology, Department of Behavioral Science-Criminal Justice Program.

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Retrieved August 1, 2007 from

Wilson, D. (2007, July 26). Hazelton Illegal Immigration Laws Ruled Unconstitutional – Judge Sides Says

Employers And Landlords Should Not Be Burdened. Best Syndication. Retrieved August 1, 2007.


ordinance_rule d_unconstitutional.htm

Vlahos, K. (2002, March 13). Immigration Amnesty Passes House. Fox News. Retrieved August 1, 2007