The Immigration Debate

Major Immigration Issues

There is widespread criticism of the current US immigration policy and it has become clear that changes need to be made. One of the principle reasons that there are so many illegal immigrants is before 1994 the debate was focused on what are known as illegal aliens by the INS. After 94 it was recognized that there was also a problem with immigration arriving in the country legally but continue to stay in the country after their visas had expired, these are now known as undocumented residents.

Some key arguments and problems with the current policy is:
Stricter border control has done nothing to lessen illegal immigration flows and led instead to human rights abuses and victimization of border-crossers.

Due to immigrants working in the American economy there is downward pressure on on wage levels particularly in lower income sectors and also decreased job availability in certain areas.

Refugees escaping difficult situations in their own country such as repressive governments and violent political situations get rejected by Washington.

The integration of illegal immigrants into the US workforce is both negative and positive. Immigrants freely agree to take jobs that US citizens would reject. This in turn allows the US to be competitive in the world economy and stimulate job creation in run down neighborhoods. These benefits often conceal losses for vulnerable parts of the US population. American companies often prefer to hire a foreigner who works harder for less pay.

There are concerns that the US is at a dangerous level of immigration at the present time and this could lead to population overload. At current levels immigration is increasing the population by 1.5 million people per year, which is more than half of total US population growth. If things were to continue at this level by 2050 the US population would be 400 million.
The above information is taken from US foreign policy in focus. (www.immigrationusa.com/debate.html)

Argument for Immigration:
The United States is a nation built by immigrants and with all this debate it becomes easy to forget that these are people who are only trying to get a better life for themselves. Immigrants are prepared to take Jobs that an American worker would not, under poor work conditions and low wages, these jobs would otherwise remain unfilled. Immigrants therefore increase the United States overall productivity.

Information taken from debate the future of US Immigration policy. (www.immigrationdebate.com)
Immigration often leads to an increase in capital investment. what many people forget is that immigrants are often entrepreneurs and maybe able to develop export opportunities for American goods and services especially due to their worldwide connections and language skills. (www.americanprogress.org)

Top arguments against Amnesty:

One of the big issues in the immigration debate is what should be done with those who are currently illegally residing in the country. One view is to give them Amnesty but there are several compelling arguments against this. By giving Amnesty we would be rewarding illegal behavior by putting the illegal immigrants on a fast track route to citizenship as long as they meet some conditions, pay a fine and back taxes. This would put the illegal immigrants to the front of the queue while people who are doing things the legal way are left waiting while still in their own country hardly seems fair. A proposed temporary workers program is neither temporary or work based. Millions of illegal immigrants can receive a green card after 4 years and several thousand immigrants who cross the border illegally are given the opportunity to gain a green card by working as little as six days a year. There would be a population overload with the possibility of 66 million new immigrants over the next 20 year period. There are fears that Amnesty would lead to insufficient border control. Amnesty would increase terrorism fears as local police would only be able to arrest those criminals who have committed violation of Immigration laws but not of any civil violations. The Amnesty proposal would give immigrants social security benefits as well as tax credits for the time when they worked illegally. States will foot the bill for the health care of illegal immigrants, yet they will not be reimbursed by federal government and the state impact assistant account for temporary workers is an unfunded account. Small businesses would be hit hard as there would be wage provisions in place for guest workers but no such provisions for American Citizens, the end result small businesses would be forced to pay the guest worker a higher wage than an American for performing the same Job. There seems to be doubts over language requirements and a failure to make English the national language has seemingly open the door for immigrants to communicate with the government in any language they like.

The above information is taken from United States senator Tom Coburn Press Room (www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm)

New immigration proposal should:
Stress ethical and humanitarian objectives by given priorities to refugees fleeing from persecution.

Streamline and restructure provisional work programs that open US to temporary workers who take jobs Americans don’t want, while ensuring these workers are given basic human rights and receive all worker benefits such as unemployment compensation.

Protect the most vulnerable economic sectors from an influx of low-wage competition.

Lower legal immigration flows to sustainable levels.

Protect basic human rights of US residents legal or otherwise.
Information taken from US foreign policy in focus. (www.immigration-usa.com)

Senates plan:

The proposal would be to divide the 12 million illegal immigrants to three distinct groups. The first group representing 2 million people would be the undocumented residents that arrived after Jan 7, 2004. The immigrants that fit into this group must leave the country, but they could later reapply from the home country for temporary work visa. The second group would be for undocumented residents that have been here for between 2 and five years. This group represents 2.8 million people and they would be eligible for a work visa for upto 3 years provided they were continuously employed during this time, pass background checks and pay an $1000 fine. They must return to their hoe country to apply for this visa. The final group representing 6.7 million people, who have been in the country for over five years. These immigrants will be eligible for the earned legislation program, provided they worked for a least 3 years, pass background checks, pay taxes, meet requirements for English and US civics, register for selective military service and pay $3,250 in fines. They could be awarded a green card in the future. Can apply for family members who don’t fit into this category.

The thinking behind choosing the people who have been here two years or less to leave is because they haven’t had any real roots and certainly not deep enough to be on path to American Citizenship. The biggest criticism of this is that organized a deportation of 2 million people will be very challenging. It is said that many of the illegal immigrants would be afraid to go to border for the work visa because of the threat of deportation. The processing fees and application cost of new visas would be paid through the fines that are required to be paid.

Information taken from could senate plan for illegal immigrants work. (www.csmonitor.com)
Guest worker program:

Millions of illegal immigrants in the US would be free from arrest and deportation, have access to tax-deferred savings accounts and social security credits and get unrestricted travel to and from their home countries under the proposed guest worker program. This plan would ease fears of illegal immigrants that a simple mishap such as a traffic ticket could get them deported. Under this proposal the illegal immigrants could stay for an undetermined number of renewable 3 year periods, after which they would be eligible to become a permanent legal resident. The scheme would allow the following:

Allow illegal immigrants living in the US to create tax deferred saving accounts that could be withdrawn on their return to their home country.

Give the illegal immigrants access to bilateral agreements the US has with 20 countries this would allow them to receive benefits and social security credits in their home country.

The immigrants will be given freedom of travel meaning they will be able to come and go as they please.

They will be given special travel cards to ensure they are not denied entry when they return.
The current immigration law states that an illegal immigrant has been living here for 180 days they must return home and wait 3 years before they may reapply. If they have been here for a year they must then wait ten years. The new policies would supercede these laws since many of the immigrants would already of been here over a year. One of the chief arguments against this plan proposed by president bush is why would immigrants come out of the shadows only to risk deportation in a few years time. This plan offers no track towards green cards or citizenship so is really only a temporary work program.
Information taken from Immigration plan envisions “incentives” to illegal aliens. (www.washtimes.com)

The impact on hospitality industry:
Many people have argued that when it comes to the workforce immigration illegal or otherwise has positive effect. It is no huge secret that there are many positions available that are simply undesirable to American Citizens. There are many reasons for this but the major ones are undesirable jobs, unsatisfactory work conditions and poor pay. For the most part illegal immigrants are happy for any kind of work and will fill these positions. In fact immigrants are so vital that if they were all to leave tomorrow many restaurants would have to shut down. According to the International Society of Hospitality Consultants there is currently a labor shortage in the industry. This creates a strong argument for those in favor of immigration because immigrants can come in and fill these positions. This seems a good solution thats hard to argue with. The latest estimates state that the number of immigrant workers in entry level positions at hotels and restaurants stands at a staggering 80%. The global economy is primarily service based, which obviously needs people of this the hospitality industry is the fasting growing sector. At present there is currently a lot more Jobs available than those to fill them.
Information taken from global, US hospitality industry need workers. (www.workpermit.com)

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association the proposal of giving illegal immigrants the opportunity to work legally through the guest worker program. There has become a major shortage of labor. This has been created by record low unemployment rates combined with steady growth in the industry. Despite offering competitive wages and benefits there are simply not enough Americans to fill these key positions. The proposed immigration reform is the best way to solve the double problem of economic needs of US businesses and the problem of undocumented workers already in the US. The shortage of labor is the single most biggest problem facing the Hotel industry at the present time. The new proposed guest work program will greatly improve work conditions for the immigrant workers as they will no longer be working in the shadows of American society. Immigration legislation that was passed last year appears problematical and unfair. There are stiff penalties and the possibility of jail time for employers who hire illegal immigrants. Current immigration laws requires a respective employee to present all necessary documentation before they would be approved to work. The problem comes in though as occasionally false documentation is presented and federal law prohibits checks being made if documents look authentic. The end result is an unjust system where employers could be prosecuted for hiring illegal immigrants, despite the fact that the government has no system in place to fully verify if someone is legally allowed to work or not.

Information taken from Hotel Industry Leaders Urge Senate to Pass Historic Immigration Bill. (www.hotel-online.com)
The hospitality industry is highly dependent on illegal immigrants. It has been speculated that in the hospitality industry around 300,000 employees will be needed by 2014, this will be very hard to achieve without immigration reform. Currently an H-2B visa allows companies to bring in temporary workers from outside the US on visas usually lasting six months. Despite many hotel groups offering competitive wages and benefits its become increasing difficult to fill all positions, many large hotels may need to hire around 400 seasonal employees every year. The broadmoor hotel will bring in 250 employees from outside the US using the H-2B visa program this year. The hotel has at least 100 openings every month. The H-2B visa program is limited though as only 66,000 are given out each year. There are certain positions in the hospitality industry that American workers are not prepared to do. Wages could be doubled or tripled but its unlikely to make a lot of difference because these are jobs people don’t want. The only realistic way of getting these positions filled is through international recruitment mainly through the H-2B visas. The problem is that the 66,000 positions are quickly filled up and hotels are still looking for additional workers that they will be unable to recruit.
Information taken from hoteliers add to immigration debate. (www.hotelmotel.com)

Personal position:
The immigration issue is lot more complicated than many of the other big issues in society today. Its also not a clear cut issue because there are many arguments and they are all compelling in their own way. There are also multiple things to consider such as what should be done with the existing immigrants and what should be done for new immigrants.
One of the principle things to consider is that by someone staying in the country illegally usually by outstaying the length of their visa they have broken immigration rules. The current rules on this state that they must immediately leave and may not return for 10 years. This is amongst the justification some give for deportation for all immigrants.
One of the must compelling arguments for giving illegal immigrants amnesty is that they fill jobs Americans won’t. I think this is certainly a strong arguments and in the hospitality section I outlined some major labor shortages that can only be filled by immigrants even if the wages were tripled few American workers would be interested. The information from www.workpermit.com claimed that in the hospitality industry immigrants make up 80% of entry level positions. This proves a compelling point that we simply can’t survive without the immigrants and its of my opinion that they give more good than bad to the US economy. I think that we should make it a priority open up legal work opportunities, where immigrants can work under good work conditions and descent pay. Purely and simply the American companies are struggling without the immigrant workers to fill positions that would otherwise remained unfilled. The United States has a reputation of being the land of opportunity and also given opportunities for foreign nationals to work here, surely this is something they would like to continue.

Its very difficult to know how to handle the immigration situation especially considering that the US benefits greatly by having the immigrants here. It seems to me that the bigger problem is to prevent future immigrants entering the country especially considering the illegal immigrants that are currently here are contributing to the economy. The way I feel about the situation is that even though the illegal immigrants are breaking the law by being here they are also contributing to the American Economy. They should all be given the opportunity to work at least on a temporary basis. However bearing in mind that it is hard for someone to come here legally and gain a green card I see little reason why we should give special treatment to the immigrants who have broken the law. In fact I don’t think any of them should be able to become citizens because they have broken the law. Deportation is not an option because of the huge numbers, so I think an annomous work visa obtainable from within the US is the best option. I also think that there should be a new 3 year work visa introduced that will be available and relatively easy to get and is renewable.

Green cards should be obtainable for the legal immigrants after they have worked for several years, Citizenship should only be available for those immigrants that enter legally. I think this situation should suit everyone although the threat of deportation will remain for the illegal immigrants I see little reason why this threat should be removed after breaking the law.
The introduction of this new renewable 3 year work visa will help to plug the gaps in the labor market and the number of applications should be quite high, certainly higher than the 66,000 H-2B visas. The application and processing fees will be quite high to ensure that only serious applicants apply. It is in the best interests of the American economy to continue to use the workers that are already here. Once everything has become legal the legal immigrants should receive all the same benefits of American workers. Clean and safe work environment usual benefits such as unemployment compensation and health insurance coverage. Legal immigrants should also receive the same wage level as American citizens.

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