Through the late 20th and early 21st centuries, illegal immigration from Mexico has been an important topic in political debates. Over the years, this issue has impacted a range of areas of American life, such as social, cultural and political matters. The matter that seems to gain the most discussion among many Americans is the economic impact. For Americans lawmakers and citizens debating the legality of immigration, the primary concerns are competition for employment, wage competition, and impact on the national economy as a whole.
One of the immediate concerns about Mexicans in the American economy is that immigrants are taking jobs from average Americans. In fact, however, immigrants only seem to compete for unskilled, minimum wage jobs as opposed to skilled artisan and management jobs (Davidson, 2013). In terms of competition, this category aligns with those people without a high school diploma in lower paying jobs. However, this stream of workers helps to support the rest of the economy. As more work is completed by the unskilled workers, it allows skilled workers to concentrate on their area of experience more (Davidson, 2013). This transition imitates mass production techniques with other industries, allowing more work to be completed quickly. Additionally, if demand increases due to the faster production, employers will require more skilled and unskilled workers to complete the jobs, creating a positive impact for both local skilled workers and immigrant unskilled workers.
For unskilled workers, the immigrants do create wage competition for the same jobs. In this category, the immigrants create a decrease in wages by as much as seven percent for all unskilled workers in their category (Davidson, 2013). This competition potentially creates resentment from the unskilled workers towards the immigrants in their fields. For Mexicans, even these lowered wages marks an improvement over wages back home. Even with changing conditions in both economies, wages in America are higher than in Mexico where as much as fifty percent of the population is in poverty (Llana, 2011). In light of this statistic, minimum wage in America does not seem as low as many workers complain. For immigrants this discrepancy works in their favor but it is doubtful that many Americans consider this in their consideration over immigration.
In terms of the overall impact, the cost of immigration seems to be fairly low to a majority of the American population in terms of taxes and benefits. In terms of national economic income, Mexican immigrants contribute four percent to the gross domestic product of the United States of America (Badkar, 2012). This number, while seemingly small, represents a major contribution to society, considering the large number of corporations and companies in America which contribute to the economy. On the other side of the issue, immigrants seem to cost relatively little in terms of taxes and benefits received. Over an eight year period, illegal immigrants paid about $90 million in social security taxes, mainly due to a sense of obligation or belonging (Loller, 2008). This contribution adds a large amount to a section of the federal budget that remains in jeopardy over the past few years. As many of these immigrants do not want to risk detection for their status, they would most likely not apply for benefits, leaving more money in the system.
The certainty of many of these statistics often remains hazy as any economic statistic could be twisted for political purposes. In the debates over economic benefits, many different agencies chooses to highlight varying statistics, such as the cost to lower income native workers or the benefit to aid programs, as mentioned above (Correa-Cabrera & Rojas-Arenaza, 2012). Depending on how and when these and other statistics are disseminated, the logical, economic basis to support or oppose immigration could change. These changing tides then convert an economic issue into the realm of political debate in America.
Finally, the economic motivation for immigration is changing for people in Mexico. Over the past few years, some wages in that country have risen and education is more available, though not to the level found in America (Llana, 2011). As these opportunities increase, the motivation to come to America decreases. By being to work in their home nation, immigrants can remain closer to their families and culture. However, these statistics are not changing fast enough. While jobs are increasing, many of the new jobs do not align with the qualifications of workers in the nation (Hazan, 2010). This change shows some progress but remains a problem unless the training or education system in Mexico changes to better meet the demands of the work conditions. Consequently, it will affect immigration to an extent but perhaps not as much as common Americans may like.
Immigration from Mexico to the United States impacts both countries in terms of unemployment, benefits, and wages. While some aspects are a boon to America, such as contribution to taxes and filling unwanted jobs, some, such as lowered wages and use of social services serve as detriment to the nation. Due to the highly political nature of this issue, the extent of these pluses and minuses change based on the reporting, making the issue of immigration a highly controversial and vague topic.