The Plight of Illegal Immigrants
In the United States, immigration policy continues to be a heated, unresolved political issue. The debate centers around three central themes: maintaining border security, balancing business concerns, and ensuring basic rights for immigrants, specifically for those that are illegal or undocumented.1 In the United States, the longstanding immigration debate is driven by economic factors and business concerns. It is contended in this paper that illegal immigrants provide valuable services that benefit United States citizens and, consequently, that basic human rights such as health care should be provided to them.
The old adage of “follow the money” is an important issue in immigration policy. Illegal immigrants provide low-cost labor and provide valuable services in this country, particularly in the construction, food service, cleaning, and agriculture sectors.2 Five percent of United States employees or seven million people are reported to be undocumented immigrants who provide needed services, work to earn a basic living, and support families in their native country. Seven million is a significant number and the impact of losing this workforce would be detrimental to businesses across the country.
An opposing view contends that immigrants, particularly those entering the country illegally, take needed jobs away from United States citizens.3 Currently, news stories carry fear-based articles on illegal immigrants stealing stimulus funds-related jobs.4 However, research by Giovanni Peri and Gianmarco Ottaviano shows that this argument does not have merit. Their findings state that American cities experiencing increased immigrant labor led to more robust economies. Specifically, five cities most impacted by this labor benefit are Los Angeles, San Jose, Austin, Houston and Phoenix. Cities with little or no growth in immigration, such as Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, did not benefit from this phenomenon during...