Path To Citizenship Essays

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The American Dream, which is sought by many people around the world, is not an easy task and it can be very hard to achieve for the unfortunate. Many see the United States as a land of possibilities and a better life and that could explain why the number of unauthorized immigrants has increased from 3.5 millions in 1990 to 12.2 millions in 2007. (Preston 1)
The number on immigrants in the US only decreased between the 2007 and 2009 due to the economical crisis, when more immigrants left the US than entered it. (Preston 2)
However, The United States has one of the safest security systems in the world and that leads to a very good protection of its borders. ‘’In 2006, Congress passed The Secure Fence Act authorizing 700 miles of fencing…show more content…

In my opinion, everyone should be able to have a better life. Illegal immigrants’ effect on the American economy is positive and they should be provided with an easy way to obtain legalization, become taxpayers and achieve receiving American citizenship. Illegal immigration between the US and South America has been an important border issue since the 1970s. (Border 1) The enormous border between America and Mexico has represented since the old times, illegal immigrants’ path to a land of many possibilities. However, it has a high security zone controlled by policemen and trying to cross it supposes risking your life. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act increased Border Patrol funding and the fencing area has had a developed security system since its creation. Another immigration-related law is The U.S.A Patriot Act, which took effect in 2001 , and focused on paperwork requirements , specially in the development of visas for visitors and in the improvement of biometric technology. (Border 1) Surprisingly enough, the safety in the Mexican-American border has an elevated cost. ‘’Total immigration enforcement spending increased fivefold between 1985 and 2002 from $1 billion to almost $5 billion’’ (Border 1). Despite of all the efforts that the US government has made in the last decades to protect the southern border, many illegal immigrants have achieved crossing the border and started living in the US.

The "gang of eight", a bipartisan contingent of US senators, has just released an outline of their long awaited comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill concentrates on three broad components: a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized migrants, border security, and America's outdated visa allocation system. The most important component of the bill removes the threat of deportation for most of the 11 million unauthorized migrants presently in the country.

Unauthorized migrants who entered the US before 11 December 2011, can apply for provisional legal status after they pay a $500 fine and any back taxes they owe, provided that they have not committed a felony. A pathway to legalization is critical not only for immigrant communities and families but also for America's economic growth.

America's white population is aging and is projected to decrease to less than 50% by 2050. Concurrently, the Latino populace will double, from 17 to 29% of the population, making the US a minority-majority society. Latino population growth will come from the American born children and grandchildren of immigrants, not from Latino immigration. Thus, it is imperative that the American-born children of immigrants have the high education levels that are needed in an increasingly information and technology-based economy, especially as the baby boomers, the most educated generation in history, retire en masse.
Research has shown that legal status fosters social mobility (pdf) in part because it provides parents with access to less exploitative and better paying jobs, the financial benefits of which stream down to their children. The adult children of immigrants who legalized under the 1986 Immigration Reform Control Act have higher levels of education, earn more money, and have better jobs than those whose parents were unable to adjust their status. My own research on the rise of the Mexican-American middle class demonstrates that parental legal status, especially if attained early in a child's life, helps families enter the middle class.

While the "gang of eight" got it right by including a pathway to legal status, migrants will have to wait up to 10 years, and likely much longer, to apply for full citizenship under the condition that the US-Mexico border is secure measured by the fact that 100% of the border is surveilled and apprehensions increase to 90%. This condition is troublesome as it is based on the fallacious argument that the US receives a continuous stream of unauthorized Mexican migrants.

The US-Mexico border is more secure than at any time in the nation's history. Unauthorized Mexican migration is presently at net zero, a result of factors on both sides of the border. On the US side, the Great Recession decreased demand for low-wage workers. On the Mexican side, the economy and educational opportunities are growing at a rapid pace prompting young people who might have migrated a decade ago to stay in the country.

Equally important is shrinking family size. Mexico's birth rate was once one of the highest in the world, with 5.6 children per woman in 1976. How many children on average do you think a woman in Mexico has today? Only two. The pool of available Mexican migrants is thus dwindling rapidly due to massive economic and demographic changes. The era of mass unauthorized migration from Mexico is over. This means that the billions of dollars that will be poured into further militarizing the border by building high-tech fences and surveillance drones and by hiring border patrol agents are a huge waste of taxpayers' money, especially in an era of sequestration and declining tax bases.

The final major provision of the bill seeks to overhaul the categories under which immigrants can qualify for entrance visas. The bill places greater emphasis on worker visas, rather than family ties. Politicians are overwhelmingly supportive of earmarking more visas to high-skilled workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, but lawmakers also need to ensure that enough visas are set aside to meet the economy's demand for low-wage workers, especially during periods of economic growth. This will help forestall unauthorized migration from Mexico in the unlikely event that Mexico's economy takes a colossal dive.

It is unclear how politicians will determine the number of visas that are needed to meet the requirements of America's economy. Rather than having a fixed number of work visas, it is imperative that the number of high and low-skilled work visas be adjustable on a yearly basis and tied to the growth, or contraction, of the economy.

Time will tell whether the bill will receive broad bipartisan support because Republican lawmakers, who are notorious supporters of anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, are reluctant to back a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship. But after their disappointing loss in the 2012 presidential election where Latinos' record turnout helped Obama win, Republicans would be wise to support a bill that is crucial for America's social and economic future.

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