Besides legal immigration, illegal immigration is a serious problem. Some experts on illegal immigration claim that it is intrinsically tied to legal immigration, as the rates of illegal immigrants increase with increased numbers of legal immigrants. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, expansionist legislation, from 1776 to 1965, this nation of immigrants averaged 230,000 immigrants per year. By the 1990s, immigration averaged about a million each year, not including illegal immigrants (Edwards).
Because of the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965, along with subsequent legislation in 1980, 1986, and 1990, immigration increased dramatically, legal and illegal. The overall illegal alien population is estimated at between 2. 5 million and 3. 5 million in 1980, growing to 5 million by 1987, when 3 million were legalized through revised laws. The number of illegal alien residents continued to grow and doubled from 1990 to 2000, from 3. 5 million to 7 million.
By 2005, 10 million illegal aliens lived in the United States, triple the illegal alien population from 1980 (Edwards). The high number of illegal immigrants is a serious problem for the United States, as competition for jobs increases, and millions of taxes go unpaid. Like few other nations, the United States prides itself as being a nation of immigrants, thus suggestions to curb immigration are often met with widespread disapproval. Federal and local governments must act to curb illegal immigration.
President Bush requested $1. 9 billion from Congress to pay for putting up to 6,000 more National Guard troops on the border with Mexico (Bumiller). So far, this measure has been slow to be passed and is still being debated. Perhaps in reaction to the traditionally slow-moving state and federal bureaucracies, more than 500 volunteers signed up with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps to take part in patrols along the border between Texas and Mexico (Seper).
Civic leaders from Texas universally condemned the patrols, including local law enforcement official, state legislators, and federal representatives. At the same time, a Dallas suburb, Farmers Branch, became the first Texas municipality to enact measures fining landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, authorizing the police to seek certification to act on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security and declaring English the city’s official language (Blumenthal).
Local actions like these are the best way to curb the problem of illegal immigration. State legislators in Texas have also proposed sweeping changes to their immigration policies, including those that would deny state benefits, including welfare payments, food stamps, disability payments and public housing and unemployment assistance to the children of illegal immigrants, even if the children are American citizens (Blumenthal).
With the wheels of government are turning slowly but surely on the issue of immigration, the governor of Texas places the responsibility squarely with the federal government, seeing a future in which more local citizens take it upon themselves to deal with the problems associated with illegal immigration: "The federal government can and must do more to close the border to illegal immigration. Until that happens, these kinds of citizen-initiated efforts likely will be the result” (Seper).
And, it seems the most effective way to deal with the immigration problem is at the local level, and citizens must educate themselves to how immigration affects them. Many options exist for the U. S. citizen that wishes to help curb illegal immigration, and stricter laws and local initiatives must be enacted. Like the volunteers in Texas, citizens can patrol the border looking for illegal immigrants. The idea of a large wall seems a bit like something out of the Cold War error, and with tunnels, may prove ineffective, but it must be completed.
Creating physical boundaries to make it more difficult to sneak into the country is crucial, and this also applies to an increased military presence along the borders and at seaports. Private individuals, while able to influence many aspects regarding the fight against illegal immigration, cannot be expected to have the resources and ability as the federal government. Troops should be stationed on the borders, and regular patrols should be enacted, as well as searches of vessels and containers on seaports. At the local level, business owners can refuse to hire immigrants that are not legal.
It is clear that the surest way to curb illegal immigration is to also cut legal immigration. Most of all, citizens must educate themselves and their communities about the many complex issues created by illegal immigration. But, it is the democratic government that immigrants wish to live in that remains the most effective way to combat illegal immigration. The citizen’s best way to help cut down on illegal immigration is to vote for leaders that will address the issue in a timely and serious manner. It also makes sense that either English is made a national language, while multilingualism is encouraged.
This will only help increase communication between immigrants and natural born citizens. With increased communication comes increased understanding, and perhaps the problems of immigration faced now will become nothing more than growing pangs of an evolving nation and the immigration problems we now face can become nothing more than a memory.
Blumenthal, R. (November 16, 2006). Texas Lawmakers Put New Focus on Illegal Immigration. The New York Times. Retrieved April, 27 2007 from http://www. nytimes. com/2006/11/16/us/16immig. html Bumiller, E. (May 19, 2006). Bush Now Favors Some Fencing Along
Border. The New York Times. Retrieved April, 27 2007 from http://www. nytimes. com/2006/05/19/washington/19bush. html? ex=1163998800&en=e4bee3d7272e71ad&ei=5070 Edwards, J. (February 2006). Two Sides of the Same Coin: The Connection Between Legal and Illegal Immigration. Center for Immigration Studies. Retrieved April, 27 2007 from http://www. cis. org/articles/2006/back106. html Seper, J. (September 23, 2005). Minuteman border patrol raises opposition in Texas. The Washington Times. Retrieved April, 27 2007 from http://www. washtimes. com/national/20050922-111327-8211r. htm