America is the land of immigrants because no one is truly native except the Native Indians. Most of us might have born in America but unless our ancestors were Native Indians, we can trace back our roots to other countries, mostly those in Europe. What makes us truly Americans is not the fact that we were born in this country or hold American passport but our belief and conviction in the values and principles that America stands for. In America, people are not defined by their social, cultural, or ethnic background but by the way they live their lives. Millions of undocumented immigrants may not have legal status but they have embraced the ideals America stands including work ethics. Immigrants, even undocumented ones, have made valuable contributions to the country, thus, immigration reform should be passed so that they can come out of the shadow and contribute even more. The alternatives to immigration reform are not only highly impractical if not impossible but also violate America’s ethical and moral values. Immigration reform should be passed because not only it will be the right thing to do but it will also socially and economically improve the overall wellbeing of the American society.
An immigration reform will help expand the country’s tax base at a time when budget deficits have become the norm and country’s national debt continues to grow. UCLA economist Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda estimates that the total economic contribution of an immigration reform to the U.S. economy over the next decade will be over $1.5 trillion dollars. An immigration reform will also help improve the per capita income in the country by ensuring that every worker is paid at least the minimum legal wage. Higher income will increase consumption activities among newly legal residents, thus, helping the country grow its economy as well (Hinojosa-Ojeda). One of the primary goals of the U.S. government now is to encourage consumption to recover the economy in the aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis, thus immigration reform will be a huge boost to the national economy.
In addition to increasing tax revenues, an immigration reform will also benefit the country in other ways including saving certain industries such as the agriculture sector while keeping others growing such as the construction sector. As far as the agriculture sector is concerned, about 75% of the workers are foreign born and nearly two-third undocumented. Not only immigration reform may prevent the agricultural sector from going extinct but will also improve the average income of all workers without threatening the competitiveness of the producers. Once again, higher wages will result in higher consumption levels and even greater impact on the national economy. It is believed that a 40% rise in workers’ wages will raise the average household spending on fresh fruits and vegetables by only $16 per year, thus, the agricultural sector will still be competitive (Martin and Midgley).
In America, we believe that everyone is responsible only for his/her own actions. This is why we don’t blame the children of White Americans for the prejudice their ancestors might have shown against African Americans in the past or even those whose ancestors have had a history of owning slaves. A significant number of undocumented residents in America are those who were bought as children to the country by their parents and have known no other country in their lives except America. They grew up here, went to American schools, made American friends, celebrated American festivals and holidays, and now want to give back to the country by getting higher education or serving in the military. They are undocumented due to their parents’ and not of their own fault, thus, they should not be punished just because their parents broke certain immigration rules. Giving these children the opportunity to serve their communities and country will not be ethically right but also economically beneficial. These college-educated citizens will not only pay higher taxes but may also continue the tradition of excellence to which other foreign-born Americans such as Google’s Larry Page and Intel’s Andy Grove belong.
The critics of the immigration reform often argue that undocumented residents broke the law and immigration reform will be nothing less than an amnesty. But their argument represents only one side of the picture. If they analyze the issue carefully, they should realize that U.S. companies and households are equally guilty of breaking the law by hiring undocumented workers so that they can save some costs. In fact, by showing the willingness to hire undocumented workers, they actually encourage illegal immigration. If they stop breaking the law by hiring undocumented workers, the illegal immigration to the country will slow down significantly and a significant proportion of those already in the country may even leave themselves due to lack of employment opportunities. Putting the blame on undocumented workers only is only a self-serving and flawed argument.
Immigration reform will also prevent unnecessary politics on the issue which does little to advance the overall welfare of the society. Despite the fact that immigration reform will benefit America, many elected leaders shape their position on the issue on the basis of their personal interests rather than national interests. One example of how elected officials change their position is Senator John McCain who reversed his support for immigration reform to increase the prospects of re-election by appealing to anti-immigration sentiments in the state of Arizona. Immigration reform will ensure that our limited political resources are not anymore wasted on unproductive political games on the immigration issue.
It is apparent that immigration reform is not only the most practical and ethical course of action but also the most beneficial economically. We Americans take pride in being practical and this immigration reform will be a win-win situation. It will help the country economically and will also improve its political standing in the world. It may help attract even more foreign talent to the country because it will re-affirm the country’s commitment to cultural and ethnic diversity.
- Hinojosa-Ojeda, Raúl. “The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” Cato Journal Winter 2012: 175-199.
- Martin, Philip and Elizabeth Midgley. “Immigration in America 2010.” Population Bulletin June 2010: I,II,III,1-6.