Generations of Italians, Jews and Irish faced the challenges and prejudice of their times, lives in miserable ghettoes, and yet in a generation or two found their place in the heart of America which celebrated their contributions. However, our government at the federal and state levels are about to implement radical policies with the threat of deportation affecting 11 million or more undocumented residents of the United States. Those who protest fiercely or vocally support the President are so passionate and angry that a calm consideration of both sides is necessary as this essay will attempt. Does immigration help or hurt America? That depends on whether the immigration is legal or not.
To begin with, we need define the specific difference between the waves of legal immigration which built our country and the massive inflow of illegal immigration which troubles President Trump and his supporters. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) governs our immigration policies allowing through legal channels 675,000 immigrants on the basis that they are joining families already residing in the United States or else because they have specialized skills not readily available, though very much needed. In addition, there is a quota of refugees admitted from war-torn countries (Immigration Policy Center, 2010).

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At issue are those who cross by boat from Cuba or across the Mexican border to join substantial Latino communities, for instance Little Havana in Miami where the language and culture is Spanish. The argument for allowing these arrivals to remain legally emphasizes their positive contribution to the economy by taking jobs Americans are reluctant to take and supporting through their taxes the now aging baby boom generation who had fewer or no children compared to previous generations. In general, as Brooking Institutes large scale study proclaims, immigrants make in general a positive contribution to the economy (Felbab-Brown, 2016).Then again, the enormous progress to a prosperous democracy was built by immigrant workers “over-represented in skilled trades, mining, and as peddlers, merchants, and laborers in urban areas. Immigrants and their children were the majority of workers in the garment sweatshops of New York, the coal fields of Pennsylvania, and the stockyards of Chicago’’ (Herschman, 2006). Opponents of Trump’s policy point to a 2015 Pew survey which indicates that most Americans support current levels of immigration, and are willing to have the numbers of immigrants increase in fact.

There is need to see both sides of the issue in order to form a reasoned judgment. Regrettably, President Trump is passionate but does not give a reasoned argument in talking about “bad hombres”, rapists and terrorists among the undocumented. Let me try to build support for his policies differently. We need to consider the validity of Trump’s measures for the following reason. First, the immigrants of previous generations brought with them needed skills, a passion for education and upward mobility. This is not in general true of illegal arrivals who constitute a burden to our varied support systems such as welfare and health. Furthermore, many illegals work in the shadow economy and do not contribute to our elderly’s welfare at all. Besides, that the illegals once took jobs Americans had found unappealing surely changed in the current economic crisis when there may be no choice. Finally, to have large, very poor enclaves where the language is Spanish and there is no indication of a thirst for education, upward mobility and integration that Jewish Irish or Italian immigration population displayed indicates that there is a basis for what at first seems like a cruel and irrational policy.

There are two sides to every issue. It would be good if the two sides on immigration listen to each other and compromise.

  • Felbab-Brown, Vanda. “A wall against clear thinking on immigration and policing,” Brooking, Sept. 1, 2016. Web.
  • Hirschman, Charles. “The impact of immigration on American society: Looking backward to the future.” Border Battles: The US Immigration Debates (2006). Web.
  • Immigration Policy Center, “How the United States Immigration System Works: A Fact Sheet,” November 4, 2010. Web.
  • Pew Research. “U.S. Public Has Mixed Views on Immigrants and Immigration”, Sept. 28, 2015 Web.