2 million of the 2.5 million wage-earning farm-workers live here illegally (Murphy 2004). That accounts for a lot of cheap labor, and many claim that without it fruit and vegetables would rot in the fields, toddlers would be without nannies, linens at hotels would go unlaundered, commuters would be stranded as taxis sat driverless, and construction would come to a halt (Murphy 2004). However, Borjas claims that this ripple effect would not last long, noting that in states such as Iowa, where foreign-born residents are rare, there are people working in hotels, restaurants, and all the other jobs that supporters claim can only be filled with illegal aliens (Murphy 2004). In fact, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 87% of illegal immigrant live in just 15 states (Murphy 2004). Borjas points out that if there were no illegal aliens to tend the gardens, Californians who wanted nice lawns would simply pay more for it, eventually drawing low skilled workers from other parts of the country. Adding that American workers would be the better for it, Borjas states, "the workers would be slightly wealthier, and the employers would be slightly poorer, but everything would get done" (Murphy 2004).
Laura Hill, a research fellow at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California agrees, stating that although there would be a spike in fruits and vegetables, eventually farmers and agricultural companies would find cheaper ways to harvest the crops, perhaps even turning the quest into the development of new technology (Murphy 2004).
Many immigration experts, such as Mark Krikorian, executive director of Center for Immigration Studies, suggest that American taxpayers would be better off financially if the illegal immigrants in the United States returned to their homeland, arguing that there would be far less stress on the social-welfare system (Murphy 2004). According to Krikorian, "Immigrants overall use at least one major welfare program at a rate 50% higher than natives" (Murphy 2004). Referring to an analysis of 2001 data by his center that found Medicaid use particularly high among immigrants, Krikorian claims, "That is not because they are morally defective. It is because they are poor and don't have any education, and they end up inevitably stumbling and having needs for the system" (Murphy 2004).
However immigrant advocacy groups disagree, claiming that the economic impact of immigration plays out differently at the local and national levels (Murphy 2004). Although local hospitals and clinics bear huge health-care costs associated with uninsured illegal immigrants, the federal government enjoys a 'bonanza' from many of the same immigrants who pay federal taxes but receive no benefits in return (Murphy 2004). Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino civil rights organization, notes that contrary to popular perception, many illegal aliens do have payroll taxes deducted from their paychecks (Murphy 2004). Yet, many undocumented workers use false Social Security numbers. Nevertheless, Yzaguirre claims that without illegal immigrants, all Americans would be punished by having to pay more for everything, from hamburgers to new housing (Murphy 2004).
While many believe that illegal alien have not right to health benefits because those who are here illegally have no right to benefits in the United States, others argue that access to health care is a basic human right and should be provided to everyone, including illegal immigrants (Dwyer 2004). While it is true that illegal aliens have violated a law by entering and remaining in the Untied States, many people break many different laws and still are entitled to health care (Dwyer 2004). Proponents of California's Proposition 187 stated that "while our own citizens and legal residents go wanting, those who chose to enter our country ILLEGALLY get royal treatment at the expense of the California taxpayer" (Dwyer 2004). Proponents also noted that the legislature maintained programs that included free prenatal care for illegal aliens while at the same time increased the amount that senior citizens had to pay for prescription drugs (Dwyer 2004).
While the United States is a country of many prospects and possibilities, there must be rules to ensure order and prosperity (Porter 2006). In 1952, the federal government established the Immigration and Nationality Act, which serves as the basic framework for U.S. immigration law. At the time of its adoption it was favored by both sides of the political fence. The Democrats supported it because it made all races eligible for naturalization, and eliminated discrimination between sexes with respect to immigration (Porter 2006). Republicans supported it because it revised the quota system of the National Origins Act of 1924 and introduced a means of selected immigration by giving a quota preference to skilled aliens whose services were needed in the U.S. (Porter 2006). Lakeisha Porter points out in the March 2006 issue of International Social Science Review, that 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" (Porter 2006).
This act and the amnesties for illegal immigrants were adopted due to the large numbers of unauthorized immigrants that continue to migrate in the United States (Porter 2006). Today, there are millions of illegal immigrants who are reaping the benefits of free education, employment opportunities, and healthcare, all at the expense of the American taxpayer (Porter 2006). Amnesties passed by Congress have made it possible for illegal immigrants to live in the U.S. permanently, yet they have also helped to establish a system of federal rewards and aid for illegal aliens, thereby attracting even more aliens to the U.S. (Porter 2006).
Because so many illegal workers are paid 'under the table,' employers are not contributing to workmen's compensation or healthcare funds, thus job-related accidents burden local healthcare systems and indirectly hurt taxpayers (Porter 2006). While millions of Americans without health insurance struggle to pay for medical care, most illegal aliens do not share this concern, as local health care facilities are forced to spend millions of dollars on medical care to illegal immigrants (Porter 2006). For example, in 2003, the Cochise County, Arizona Health Department spent 30% of its annual budget to uncompensated care to illegal aliens. The Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee, Arizona paid $200,000 out of a net income of $300,000 for all uncompensated care to illegal immigrants (Porter 2006).
Diseases present another reason why illegal aliens should not enjoy the same social benefits as U.S. citizens. Legal immigrants, like U.S. citizens, must be free from diseases in order to work and attend schools, yet illegal aliens are allowed to migrate into the U.S. population and infect the country's population with diseases never experienced or diseases that were believed to have been eradicated years ago (Porter 2006). For example, tuberculosis is now making a comeback, largely due to illegal immigration. Chagas disease, an infection caused by the parasite, trypanosome cruzi and responsible for some 50,000 deaths worldwide, had not appeared in the U.S. until it recently infected the nation's blood supply (Porter 2006). Moreover, there have been several cases of leprosy that can be traced to illegal immigrants from India, Brazil, the Caribbean, and several Latin American countries (Porter 2006). Cases of malaria and polio are also reappearing as native-born Americans are exposed to these diseases. Moreover, the West Nile Virus, which originated in Africa, never existed in the U.S. until 1998, and since then has infected tens of thousands of people in at least 21 states (Porter 2006).
Illegal aliens are not 'second-class citizens,' they are not citizens at all - period (Edwards 1999). Because they are not legal immigrants, they should not enjoy the same social benefits and other constitutional rights that legal immigrants and U.S. citizens enjoy (Edwards 1999). It is quite simple - illegal means illegal. Just as one would not tolerate uninvited guests to his/her private home, the Untied States should not tolerate illegal immigrants crossing the borders to take advantage of employment, health care, and educational opportunities.
Dwyer, James. (2004 January 01). Illegal immigrants, health care, and social responsibility. The Hastings Center Report. Retrieved November 18, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Edwards, James R. Jr. (1999 March 20). What Rights For Illegal Aliens? The Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Murphy, Dean E. (2004 February 23). Imagining America without illegal immigrants: the millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. have long been a source of controversy. But what would life be like without them? New York Times Upfront. Retrieved November 18, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Pinney, Marcus. (2004 March 22). A constitutional dilemma: the conflict of the Title VII alien exemption clause with the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Houston Journal of International Law. Retrieved November 18, 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.