Immigration Reform and the Economy

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English 1102

Areli Jaimes

Mrs. Camargo

March 26, 2014

Immigration Reform and the Economy

In a time where the world seems to be on a delicate balance on the brink of economic disaster or war, having our domestic issues in order is a must. As a nation we must unite and work together to fix our economy, our debt, and our immigration system. The system today takes an individual ten plus years to simply have their application screened by the Immigration Agency. During which they make life and death decisions to cross and risk their lives at a small chance that they make it and further more attain work that will provide them with the coveted American dream.

To fully understand the immigration debate we must first look at both sides and their arguments. However, it must be understood that each also has extreme viewpoints and there is disagreements among the parties themselves. The extreme conservative’s goals include the following, ending illegal immigration by enforcing the border stronger, completely doing away with legal immigration or at a minimum reducing the legal immigrants that can enter to 300,000 a year. They are strongly opposed to amnesty and guest worker programs, however, support protecting the wages of citizens and penalizing employers who will hire undocumented workers.(Dorsey, Diaz – Barriga).

On the liberal spectrum the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR) is an umbrella organization that includes many groups including the United Farm Workers of America, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, the CCIR covers 16 state and local immigrant rights groups as well as 24 national level organizations, including unions, religious groups, and a variety of ethnic organizations. The goals of the CCIR is promoting democracy through education, civic education, and respect for human rights. While protecting the national security of the United States. The organization also calls for the reunification of families and for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers living in the United States. The organization stresses the importance of civil and human rights also bringing back the rule of law. However, they want not just enforcement but creating “just” laws. Their idea is to develop laws and a system where immigrant workers can come legally and fill jobs. CCIR emphasizes protecting workers rights, including guest workers. Referring to specifically, migrant’s freedom to change jobs, being protected under existing labor laws, and benefitting from the implementation of a program for obtaining permanent status. CCIR portrays immigration as a global issue with strong roots in the forming of the United States who was a nation of immigrants pursuing the American dream. Immigrants are the embodiment of citizenship through their hard work ethic and core family values. In this idea undocumented immigrants are central to the economic wellbeing of the nation (Simpson).

The current idea of immigration reform dates back to time that President George W. Bush was in office. In 2006 he lobbied and pushed for a reform to happen in which undocumented immigrants would have a path to citizenship however, his party did not give enough support to approve the bill. It was reignited during our current President’s campaign in 2008 when he won the support of the Latino vote by promising an immigration overhaul including a path to legalization. President Obama now in his second term is working to pass a reform in which he wants three things. The first a path to citizenship, the second strengthen the border with Mexico, third would be fix overall the broken system in place now.

However, the Republican Party has shown indecisiveness to vote on the issue due to the feared backlash by their party constituents. There are two key issues in which they do not agree with the President and his democratic party. The first is the idea of implementing a path to citizenship. With this applicants immediately are set on a fast course to obtain citizenship status which the Republican Party greatly opposes, they prefer incremental steps in the reform with the end result being residential status and not citizenship. The second idea is their claim that President Obama must first enforce the current laws set and strengthen the border with Mexico. However, under the current administration they have deported record amounts of people, 2 million, and spent more money on strengthening and hiring agents to better patrol the border, than any other administration before them. The Obama Administration has enforced the laws to the point that the National Latino Coalition is petitioning and pressuring the administration to stop deportations because it has been tearing families apart completely. So, the claim that the administration is not enforcing the law is invalid and just a shot at President Obama and an excuse to avoid the issue. (Dorsey, Barriga-Diaz)

There is a saying that is often said about his topic, “the US economy needs low skill immigrants because they will do work that Americans will not do.” Although, true to a certain point there is more to that than just a simple decision of who wants to work where. Americans will not work these jobs because they know they can attain a better job, with better pay, and working conditions. Many of these companies hire illegal workers because they know they can pay them a low salary and invest little to nothing in worker safety in the workplace. Why this happens is simply because it is cheaper to hire an undocumented citizen than an American worker. That then leads to a surplus of low wage jobs and a surplus of unemployed Americans, with both sides barely having enough money to make ends meet.

In 2005 a study showed that undocumented migrants were about 5% of the civilian labor force, which is about 7.2 million workers out of 148 million. About 19% of undocumented workers were employed in construction jobs, 15% in production, installation and repair, and 4% in farming. The Pew report also showed that undocumented immigrants made up 24% of all workers in farming, 17% in cleaning, 14% in construction and 12% in food preparation. Within these categories, undocumented immigrants were found to be concentrated in specific jobs. They represented 36% of all insulation workers, 29% of all roofers and drywall installers, and 27% of all butchers and other food processing workers.

“Why do illegal immigrants force down wages that’s how markets work,” responds Cappelli, Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli and Vernon M. Briggs Jr., professor in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “It’s hard for the average person to understand that these are markets. If illegal workers left the U.S. tomorrow, what would happen? Some people think nobody would do those jobs. If that were to happen, companies would change those jobs, and wages would go up. Yes, companies would hire the people who are not necessarily doing those jobs now. This goes on in every labor market. There are no jobs that we can think of where, over time, work doesn’t get done. It doesn’t happen.”(King)

This is a quote from an interview done by a professor at Cornell University explaining the effect of undocumented immigrants in the country. He makes valid clear points which have facts to back them up with. The solution to this problem would be to have an immigration reform and allow these undocumented workers to receive a legal status so that companies like the ones mentioned by Professor Capelli would cease to hire at low wages. Which then in turn creates a working labor force demanding higher pay, creating income for the US economy on every level, taxes, and social security.

We as a nation have been blessed to not know the struggle that many of these people go through, so we have lost sight of what it means to them and that it is our responsibility to help those in need. Immigration Reform must happen in order to stabilize our nation as a whole or face never ending instability.


Alan M. Kraut, The Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921 2nd ed. Arlington Heights: Harlan Davidson, 2001.

Dorsey, M. E., and M. Diaz-Barriga. "Senator Barack Obama and Immigration Reform." Journal of Black Studies 38.1 (2007): 90-104. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

Simpson, Alan K. "The Politics of Immigration Reform." International Migration Review 18.3 (1984): 486-504. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

ZOLBERG, Aristide R. "The Politics of Immigration 'Reform'" Revue Française D'études Américaines No. 41 (1980): 263-76. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

King, John. "Inside Politics: Boehner Says 'never Mind' on Immigration." CNN. Cable News Network, 07 Feb. 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2014

"The Immigration Debate: Its Impact on Workers, Wages and Employers." KnowledgeWharton The Immigration Debate Its Impact on Workers Wages and Employers Comments. Wharton University of Pennsylvania, 17 Mar. 2006. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

The hardest part of putting my sources together was how to incorporate the information into my essay. With my topic I had a wide range of ideas and ways I could write it so I’ve been very indecisive on which way to go and how to really structure my paper. The easiest parts oddly enough and surprisingly were writing the introduction and conclusion to my paper, which in the past has been the hardest part. My favorite area so far or favorite thing I’ve done would be the research involved. That is because although my knowledge on the subject is at a above average level I’ve learned things I did not know or was aware of. The aspects of my topic that I consider the most thought provoking would be the lengthy process that I mention it takes for an immigrant to go through the legal channels to arrive in this country. The most surprising part of my writing hands down would be the introduction and conclusion how easy it was for me to write them. Which I have to give credit to the exercises in class and my group members reviews.

Writing an essay with new knowledge is definitely a struggle because it takes some time to figure out to write the information in your own words and put in data from the research in your paper. In other words how to simply word and structure the essay so that it makes sense and flows smoothly. The biggest thing that I’ve learned to do differently are two things. The first is to not procrastinate because long papers like this require time and can not be done in one night sitting at your computer. The second thing is to do reviews and critiques with other people because many of my ideas in my paper came from my group members spit balling and checking my paper.

The biggest aspect that I think will transfer to other situations is the exercises that we did in class. They helped me rethink my subject and helped me organize it much better and come to a point where I realized I could maybe word something different or just didn’t need a certain sentence. I feel like that will transfer over to all my writing not only in the remainder of my college career but also for the rest of my professional life.

Overall, this project was enjoyable and uncharacteristically of my past experiences with English papers it maintained my attention throughout the semester. It helped me further my knowledge on the subject of immigration and helped refine my writing technique especially, in creating a cited sources page and research. Also, the tracked changes in word processing is interesting and could come in handy in the near future.

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