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Illegal immigrants to the United States [...] reasons illegal immigrants come to America, and the political debate which surrounds these immigrants. Illegal immigrants face many hardships when they come to the United States, and their life here is filled with controversy and difficulties.
The reasons people come to live in the United States illegally are many. Some immigrants come to America because they are fleeing persecution and prosecution in their own country. Unfortunately, many of these illegal immigrants continue to commit crimes once they have entered the United States. The cost of these immigrants to the criminal justice system is quite high. In fact,
The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice in cooperation with the INS. SCAAP provides federal funding to states and localities that are incurring costs of incarcerating criminal illegal aliens convicted of state and local offenses" ("The Cost").
Some immigrants are fleeing financial hardships in their home countries, and they hope to make a better life for themselves in the United States. They are fleeing poverty in their own countries, but often, they find it again here in the United States. One report notes, "In 1999, more than one-third (36.3%) of foreign-born full-time, year-round workers earned less than $20,000 compared to one fifth (21.3%) of their native counterparts" ("The Cost"). Thus, many of these immigrants are fleeing poverty, but, because of higher living expenses in the United States, they still cannot make ends meet, even with better paying jobs than they could find in their own country.
How do these immigrants become illegal in the first place? Initially, these people might not be considered illegal immigrants if they followed the proper channels for immigration to the United States. As one document states, "The presence of illegal immigrants in the United States is a product of the gap between the number of people allowed to legally immigrate to the United States and the global demand for U.S. residency" ("Introduction"). The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that about 825,000 people immigrated legally to the United States between 1992 and 1998 ("Introduction"). However, it is often quite difficult to get the proper immigration documents to enter the country legally, and so many thousands more enter the United States illegally every year. Some of them enter on freighters from foreign countries. Some use fake documents. In addition, some overstay their legal visas, making them illegal. The INS reports, "These account for more than half of illegal immigrants in the United States" ("Introduction"). The amount of illegal immigrants coming into the country seems to increase every year, despite many measures taken by the government to deter illegal immigration. The costs will continue to rise as more people come to this country for better jobs and a better life.
It is interesting to note the rate of illegal immigration increases when there is political unrest or crisis (including war, relentless persecution, etc.) in their own countries. This is shown by the increased number of immigrants from Haiti and Cuba in the early 1990s, after political unrest and instability hit those countries (INS). Studies have shown that immigration also increases after natural disasters have struck a country, which makes sense, because the people have often lost everything, and have nothing left in their own country to keep them from leaving.
How does illegal immigration affect the United States? The costs of illegal immigration to the United States are quite high. First, many illegal immigrants eventually receive welfare and Social Security benefits, without contributing significantly to these funds. However, the opposite is also true, as one study notes,
The impact of illegal immigrants on the nation's tax bill is also hard to measure because illegal immigrants generate tax revenues as well as costs. Many pay Social Security taxes on their wages using falsely obtained numbers; the result is that they pay into the Social Security systems without ever receiving benefits. Illegal immigrants also generate tax revenue by paying sales taxes when they buy goods. A 1996 study on California immigration by the Tomas Rivera Center, a Los Angeles-based think tank, concluded that, contrary to costing money, each illegal immigrant in the long run…[continue]
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