Illegal Immigrant Should Not Receive Social Services

Article excerpt

Introduction

Throughout its history, the United States has been a land of immense opportunities. For many, it is only a dream to live in a country where opportunity is just around the corner. While many individuals achieve their dream of living in the land of the free, some of them reside in the U.S. illegally. They secretly migrate to and reside in the United States, and American citizens are held liable for all of their shortcomings.

The United States is a country of seemingly limitless prospects and possibilities, but there must be rules to ensure order and prosperity. To accomplish this, the federal government, in 1952, established the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The act, which has been amended many times since then, still serves as the basic framework for U.S. immigration law. In general, it provides a single comprehensive statue which governs immigration and naturalization policy in the United States. (1) There was very little opposition to the INA at the time of its adoption, but supporters of the act, both Democrats and Republicans, favored it for different reasons. (2) For Democrats, it made all races eligible for naturalization, thus eliminating race as a bar to immigration. They also supported the law because it eliminated discrimination between sexes with respect to immigration, afforded greater procedural safeguards to aliens subject to deportation, broadened the grounds for exclusion and deportation of aliens, and provided equal opportunities for immigrants in America? Many Republicans supported the law because it revised the quota system of the National Origins Act of 1924 and introduced a system of selected immigration by giving a quota preference to skilled aliens whose services were urgently needed in the United States, and to relatives of U.S. citizens and aliens. It also outlined procedures for adjusting the status of nonimmigrant aliens to permanent resident aliens, added significantly to the existing classes of nonimmigrant admission, and established a central index of all aliens in the United States for use by security and law enforcement agencies. (4) Unfortunately, this act and the "amnesties" for illegal immigrants were adopted partly because of the sheer number of "unauthorized" immigrants that continue to migrate into the United States.

Today, there are over a million "illegal" immigrants who reap the benefits of free education, employment opportunities, and, most importantly, healthcare. Americans should not have to continue to suffer the impact of illegal immigrants' "extended vacations" in the United States.

Amnesties: Encouraging Illegal Immigration

Congress has adopted a series of amnesties that make it possible for illegal immigrants to live in America permanently. Such laws have helped to establish a system of federal rewards and aid for illegal immigrants, thus attracting even more aliens to the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, 700,000 to 800,000 illegal immigrants settle in the United States annually; an estimated eight to eleven million illegal aliens currently reside in the country. In 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) reported that the amnesties granted in 1986, a direct result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), has contributed significantly to the increase in illegal immigration as immigrants enter the U.S. to join their newly legalized relatives. (5)

Since the mid-1990s, IRCA has contributed to the adoption of several immigration amnesty laws. The first, Section 245(i) Amnesty of 1994, offers a de facto amnesty to two major groups of illegal aliens: (1) Those who entered the country illegally; and, (2) those who entered it legally through visas, but then violated the terms of their visa. The next law, Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty of 1997, was signed by President Bill Clinton twice as continuing resolutions to extend the September 30, 1997 expiration date of Section 245(i) through November 7, 1997. Congress then agreed to extend Section 245(i) until January 14, 1998. The next law, the NACARA Amnesty of 1997, or the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, established an amnesty program for Nicaraguans and Cubans and offered a de facto amnesty to Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Eastern Europeans based on political factors. The HRIFA Amnesty of 1998 established the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act. This law grants permanent resident status to any Haitians who have resided in the United States since December 1995, along with their spouses and children, as long as they applied for permanent resident status before April 1, 2000. The Late Amnesty of 2000, an agreement between the Clinton administration, then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), allowed all illegal aliens, who had been part of law-suits claiming that they have been illegal aliens before 1982, and thus should have received amnesties under the 1986 IRCA, but, for various reasons had been denied, to renew their request for an amnesty. This amnesty is expected to apply to an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens. The most recent amnesty law, the LIFE Act Amnesty of 2000, reinstated Section 245(i) in early 2001. The House Immigration Subcommittee estimates that 900,000 aliens applied for adjustment of status during the first full year of the law's reinstatement. (6)

There are several additional pieces of legislation pending that may eventually be added to this list of amnesty laws. One of the more popular proposals is the Secure Orderly Immigration Act introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and several cosponsors. This act would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and implement a National Strategy for Border Security and other specified border security programs. The secretary also must establish a Border Security Advisory Committee and provide a framework for security coordination between the U.S. and Canadian governments. This act also amends the INA by: (1) authorizing appropriations through FY2011 for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program; and, (2) reimbursing states for pre-conviction costs. It also amends the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 by authorizing additional funding through FY2011 to reimburse states for indirect costs resulting from the incarceration of undocumented aliens. (7) If this act is suppose to eradicate current illegal activities initiated by immigrants, why should the U.S. pay for their criminal acts? If these immigrants had been reprimanded when they first violated the terms of their stay in the U.S., they would not have an opportunity to commit crimes and states would not need reimbursement for indirect and pre-conviction costs. In short, are these amnesty laws the proper method for dealing with immigrants who ignore constant attempts to afford them legal status in the United States?

America's Gratis Education: To All Illegal Immigrants, but Only to Some Citizens

Although education issues do not often come under federal jurisdiction, many illegal immigrants are not only receiving a basic education in the U.S., but also ample opportunities to matriculate at federally funded colleges and universities. In Plyler v. Doe (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court, in a five to four decision, ruled that the children of undocumented immigrants are entitled to free public education,s Voters in several states disagreed with that decision. For example, California voters responded by adopting Proposition 187 which "bars illegal aliens from the state's public education systems from kindergarten through university...." (29) Under California's Proposition 187, public education institutions are required to verify the legal status of both students and their parents. (10) Since many immigrants are undocumented and have not gone through the necessary steps to become American citizens, they lack a Social Security number. The State of Georgia Board of Regents stipulates that:

 
   The social security number shall be required for all entering 
   students for a permanent and lasting record. When possible, an 
   alternative number will be assigned and used by institutions for all 
   purposes which do not require the social security number. In no 
   event shall grades be posted by using the social security number. 
   The University System of Georgia is is dedicated to insuring the 
   privacy and proper handling of confidential 
   information pertaining to students and employees. (11) 

Yet, the State of Georgia Board of Regents also states that "aliens shall be classified as nonresident students, provided, however, that an alien who is living in this country under an immigration document permitting indefinite or permanent residence shall have the same privilege of qualifying for in-state tuition as a citizen of the United States." (12) Thus, an immigrant may be granted the same rights and privileges as a permanent U.S. citizen whenever he/she becomes a legalized resident. Two Democratic Georgia State Senators, Tim Golden and Sam Zamarripa, have tried to address the issue of education for illegal immigrants by introducing "The Georgia Higher Education Protection Act of 2006." The bill seeks to give all immigrants, regardless of their legal status, the opportunity to pursue higher education. The sponsors of the bill assert that the State of Georgia Board of Regents, not the state legislature, should set admissions policies for illegal and legal immigrants. (13) Currently, the State of Georgia Board of Regents stipulates that any immigrant may be granted the same rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States once they become legal immigrants. (14) Adoption of this act will simply validate the right of the State of Georgia Board of Regents to deny public education to illegal immigrants.

There have been several proposals that have actually encouraged colleges, universities, and public school systems to allow illegal immigrants to receive the same education benefits as legal citizens. These include the revised DREAM Act (S-1291) adapted by the U.S. Senate in 2005, which proposed that colleges and universities should be encouraged to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens residing in their states, and that certain students, after successfully completing college, military, and/or community service, could earn permanent legal status in the United States. The problem with this proposal is that it offers preferential treatment to illegal immigrants when there are U.S. citizens who can not receive in-state tuition rates because they have not resided in the state for the appropriate number of years. (15) Why is it acceptable to grant illegal aliens in-state tuition rates and permanent residency for "proving" themselves, when a citizen who has lived in the U.S. all of his/her life and has chosen to go to an out-of-state school, can not be considered for the same tuition rates? College is a privilege that must be earned; no one is "entitled" to go to college, citizen or not. If illegal immigrants are granted a college education, it is extensively at the taxpayer's expense.

In contrast, there has also been much legislation enacted to deny public education to illegal immigrants. In 1994, California Republicans sought to stem the influx of illegal aliens by passing Proposition 187. This bill would have allowed public schools to deny education to illegal immigrants, and also required law enforcement, social services, and healthcare personnel to verify the immigration status of all persons; report their immigration status to state and federal officials; and, refuse social services, education, and healthcare (except in the case of life threatening emergencies) to those individuals. This bill was approved by sixty percent of the voters, but federal courts ruled it to be "unconstitutional." (16) California voters have also supported Proposition 227, which requires that all public school instruction be conducted in English. Although both propositions could be seen as discriminatory toward immigrants, these measures simply sought to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving the same educational benefits as rightful citizens. (17)

Employment Opportunities Not Extended to United States Citizens

Most illegal immigrants pay federal and sales taxes, work at undesirable jobs for low wages, and live in areas where many Americans would not reside. Thus, there should not be any question regarding illegal immigrants playing a pivotal role in America's economy, but, at what cost to legal U.S. residents? Do illegal immigrants willingly work at jobs that most Americans do not want? Or, do illegal immigrants take those jobs and drive down wages in general? Illegal immigrants migrate to the United States and realize that in order to survive, they must generate a consistent income. To do so, they must secure a job. Since most possess limited skills, they are willing to work at jobs that most Americans reject.

The United States has experienced a recent influx of illegal immigrant workers for construction, custodial, and domestic service jobs. Employers in these industries are unwilling to pay Americans the appropriate wages to do these jobs when they can get twice as much labor from aliens at half the salary. If Americans take these jobs, they must accept lower wages. According to Pia Orrenius, an economist with the Federal Reserve, recent employment rate gains have been stimulated by jobs typically occupied by immigrant workers (i.e., farm and manufacturing labor). The Federal Reserve also has issued a report noting that of the 9.7 million jobs added to the U.S. economy between 1996 and 2002, 5.6 million of them were filled by foreign-born workers. (18) These inexperienced migrant workers, who are repeatedly paid "under the table," are not only being taken advantage of, but such contractors are not contributing to workmen's compensation or healthcare funds. As a consequence, job-related accidents directly burden local healthcare systems and indirectly hurt taxpayers.

In an effort to combat these problems, the Bush administration, in January 2004, announced a tentative agreement with Mexico, titled "Totalization." This would enable illegal immigrants to join America's Social Security system with credit for time spent working illegally and/or under a stolen Social Security number. President Bush also plans to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants by "giving the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States ... a new temporary-worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job." (19) Why is Bush so concerned with the employment status of illegal immigrants? Why is he not concerned with the millions of Americans who have not worked in the past year, especially those who have suffered through several recent weather-related disasters which have had an adverse impact on the nation's economy? These individuals need to be given an opportunity to start a new life. In short, they need jobs. Why should illegal immigrants occupy jobs that legal residents need? In other words, why should legal U.S. citizens not enjoy the first crack at employment opportunities?

The Rising Expense of Bearing Illegal Immigrants: Healthcare

Many people may wonder why America's heathcare costs increase steadily each year. One reason is that Americans are paying for medical services provided to illegal immigrants. While many Americans without health insurance struggle to pay for medical care, many illegal immigrants do not share this concern. According to a study conducted by the United States-Mexico Border Counties Coalition, U.S. hospitals provide at least $200 million a year in uncompensated emergency medical care to illegal immigrants. (20) For example, in Arizona, the Cochise County Health Department, in 2003, spent an estimated thirty percent of its annual budget to uncompensated care to illegal immigrants. The Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee paid $200,000 out of a net income of $300,000 for all uncompensated care to illegal immigrants. The University Medical Center in Tucson paid out $10 million and the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Tucson paid out $1 million in the first half of 2002. In California, one in five citizens lack health insurance, yet the law requires hospitals to provide free health services for illegal immigrants. (21) Rising healthcare costs is not a problem limited to Western and Southwestern states. In 2002, the Florida Hospital Association reported that health services for illegal immigrants cost an estimated $40.5 billion. (22) These costs have become especially burdensome because many hospitals are struggling with failing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and rising malpractice premiums. Why is it appropriate to force taxpayers to pay for healthcare services for illegal immigrants when it is not appropriate for taxpayers to pay for those services for fellow citizens?

Diseases offer yet another reason why illegal immigrants should not enjoy the same social benefits as U.S. citizens. Legal immigrants, like U.S. citizens, are required to be free from diseases in order to work and attend schools, but what about the nearly 4,000 illegal immigrants who migrate into the country every day? These individuals are infecting the country's population with diseases never experienced or thought to have been eradicated years ago. For example, tuberculosis had been virtually eliminated from the U.S., but it is now making a comeback, thanks, in part, to illegal immigration. Chagas disease, also known as American Trypanosomiasis, is an infection caused by the parasite, trypanosoma cruzi. Worldwide, it is estimated that sixteen to eighteen million people are infected with the disease; of those infected, 50,000 die annually. (23) This disease had not appeared in the United States until it recently infected the nation's blood supply. There have been several cases of leprosy that have emerged and can be traced to illegal immigrants from India, Brazil, the Caribbean, and several Latin American countries. The West Nile Virus, which originated in Africa, did not exist in the United States until 1998. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been infected with this disease in at least twenty-one states. (24) Cases of malaria and polio are also reappearing as native-born Americans are exposed to these diseases. Should Americans continue to endanger not only their pocketbooks, but, most importantly, their health, by supporting people who are knowingly violating U.S. laws?

Conclusion and Outlook

The standard response to illegal immigration has been increased enforcement of border security. This policy is long overdue. There are less than 2,000 agents on duty, at any given time, along the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian borders. If the United States would reposition its military forces currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and other countries where they are really not needed, they could be used to police the country's borders effectively. There should also be a ban on hiring illegal aliens. Success would require enforcing laws to ensure that all new hires are authorized to work in the United States and imposing stiff fines on businesses that knowingly employ illegal aliens. Is cheap labor really worth the disrespect shown toward U.S. laws by illegal immigrants? Is it worth the aggravation it causes legal residents who have to work for lower wages and reduced benefits while illegal immigrants enjoy full social benefits? To be sure, immigrants face many difficulties, but many U.S. citizens, particularly minorities, have struggled to overcome disadvantages and have achieved success with some dignity. Illegal immigrants are granted various opportunities to become citizens and gain that same dignity. Unfortunately, few decide to take advantage of those opportunities to officially become a part of the United States.

ENDNOTES

(1) United States Department of Homeland Security, "Immigration and Nationality Act," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Washington, D.C., January 20, 2006, http://uscis.gov/graphics/lawsregs_/INA.htm (accessed February 6, 2006), 1.

(2) John T. Doolittle, "Doolittle: End Flawed "Catch and Release" Illegal Entry Policy," October 20, 2005, http://www.house.gov/Doolittle/press/press05/pr102005.html (accessed March 20, 2006).

(3) United States Code Collection, Cornell Law School: Legal Information Institute, "Allocation of Immigrant Visas: Title 8, Chapter 12, Sections 1101, 1422," http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/search (accessed March 20, 2006).

(4) Ibid., Sections, 1101, 1150-53, 1255, 1360.

(5) Roy Beck, "United States Amnesties for Illegal Aliens," November 15, 2005, http://www.nuberusa.com/interests/amesty/html (accessed November 17, 2005), 1-2.

(6) Ibid., 2-5.

(7) Ibid., 5-6.

(8) Ibid.

(9) Monica Friedlander, "The New Corner Program: Helping Immigrant Students Succeed in U.S. Schools," Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, September 6, 2001, http://www.nwrel.org/cnorse/booklets/immigration/5.html (accessed March 24, 2006), 11.

(10) Philip Martin, "Factors that Influence Migration: Proposition 187 in California," Migration News, August 1999, http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/binpapers/v3a-4martin.pdf (accessed December 19, 2005), 2.

(11) State of Georgia Board of Regents, Policy Manual of the Board of Regents (Atlanta: University System of Georgia Press, 2005), Section 402.0305.

(12) Ibid., Section 403.02, D.

(13) Melissa Rincon, "Politicians Debate Migratory Problem," Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, December 8, 2005, http://www.galeo.org/story.php?story_id=0000000611 (accessed March 24, 2006), 1-2.

(14) State of Georgia Board of Regents, Policy Manual of the Board of Regents, Section 403.02, D.

(15) Jennifer Wipf and Peter Wipf, "Should Illegal Immigrant Chilldren and Teenagers be Educated in the United States?" About.Com, October 2005, http://immigration.about.com/od/ussocialeconomicissues/i/EduIllegalsIss.htm (accessed December 19, 2005), 1.

(16) Jeffrey Allen, "Illegal Immigration-Not Racism," Stanford Review 32:1 (February 2004), http://wwwstanfordreview.org/Archive/Volume XXXII/Issue1/Opinions/ opinions2.shtml (accessed December 19, 2005), 1-2.

(17) Michael Alvarez, "Why did Proposition 227 Pass?" Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences." California Institute of Technology, April 29, 1999, http://www.hss.caltech.edu/SSPapers/wp1062.pdf#search=' CA%20Propositions%20187%2C%20227 (accessed March 24, 2006), 3.

(18) Andrew Webb, "Illegal Immigrants-Economic Friends or Foes?" ABQjournal, November 2005, http://abqjournal.com/border2005/404202nm11-02-05.htm?1rail (accessed November 11, 2005), 3.

(19) Phyllis Sehlafly, "Rising Costs of Tolerating Illegal Aliens." The Phyllis Schlafly Report, February 2003, http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/2003/feb03/psrfeb03.shtml (accessed November 17, 2005), 1-6.

(20) United States-Mexico Border Counties Coalition, "New Border Report Released," January 2006, http://www.bordercounties.org (accessed January 24, 2006), 1.

(21) Schlafly, "Rising Costs of Tolerating Illegal Aliens," 1-6.

(22) Ibid.

(23) Charles Beard, et al., "Chagas Disease in a Domestic Transmission Cycle, Southern Texas, USA," Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA, January 2003, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol9no1/02-0217.htm (accessed November 23, 2005), 1.

(24) Phyllis Schlafly, "Conservative Agenda for 2005," The Phyllis Schlafly Report, January 2005, http://www.eagleforum.org/psr2005/jan05/psrjan05.html (accessed November 11, 2005), 3-4.

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