Illegal immigration refers to the act of people relocating from one country to foreign country without any proper legal documents validating and confirming the movement. Illegal immigration could also mean overstaying in a foreign country by exceeding the timeframe indicated in the non-immigrant visa. Therefore, illegal immigrants are considered to be individuals who migrate to foreign countries without legal documentation approving their movements. As an additional definition of illegal immigration, illegal immigrants also entail those individuals who apart from having legal travel documents, tend to overstay in the host country beyond the timeframe specified in their visas. The paper explores criminal activities like terrorism, theft, and drug trafficking among others committed by the illegal immigrants.
Protecting Our Borders from Terrorism
Illegal immigration has proved to be a very serious problem, which is earmarked with influx of illegal immigrants in the United States of America. According to Anderson (2010), most of these illegal immigrants in the USA cite poor economic, political, or social conditions in their mother countries as the reasons triggering their movements. Illegal immigrants also have high levels of homeland insecurity in the USA. Illegal immigrants have been engaged in numerous and serious criminal activities that range from terrorism, theft, drug trafficking, murders to illegal employment activities. In addition, illegal immigrants in the USA have tempted most of the employers within the American economy to break national employment laws as they aspire to secure cheap labor ensured by the illegal immigrants.
Threats of Illegal Immigrants to the US’s Homeland Security
Employment related crimes indulged by the aliens include forgery of documents. The most common reason why aliens attempt to commit this kind of crime is lack of employment opportunities and the obvious difficulty to secure such employments. It is established within the immigration laws of the USA that requires illegal immigrants in the country to produce green cards or social security cards to secure job legally. Acquiring such documents poses serious challenges to the illegal immigrants considering that they qualify for neither of the required legal documents to secure employment opportunities. Coupled with serious a need for employment so that they can manage their welfares and almost impossible legal qualification, some of the aliens resolve to acquire fake documents. Such acts when revealed by legal authorities of the USA translate to forgery that is highly punishable by the USA laws. In fact, Asmus (2012) cites Act number 274C (d) (3) (a) and (C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which prohibits such attempts and declare fine amounting from $250 to $5000 for each forged card. As mentioned by Asmus (2012), such crimes appears to be very serious than illegally entering the country.
Another thing of great importance to note is the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (Anderson, 2010). This law prohibits and defines serious legal measures against any employer found to recruit illegal immigrants. These provisions have made it difficult for employers to recruit illegal immigrants. Those employers who happen to overlook the law and grant employment, often discriminate the aliens as they view these actions as risks to their businesses for the comfort of the aliens. Furthermore, illegal immigrants who luckily secure employment opportunities suffer from serious mistrust by their employers who view them as possible criminals who face deportation at any time.
The fact that illegal immigrants enter the USA without proper legal processes makes them unaware of the laws practiced in the country. The aliens then end up breaching traffic laws applying in the American roads. Some also indulge in smoking of marijuana and cigarettes in the manner that is not consistent with the Americans legal provisions. Individuals who pronounce hate remarks cite disobedience to the laws like observation of the traffic lights, which themselves tend to ignore. Perceived legal Americans also pronounce hate remarks against the aliens when they see them smoking marijuana, even when they may practice the same illegal act themselves.
Terrorism is another security threat attributed to the illegal immigrants in the USA. Terrorism does not just happen or occur as other natural calamities, but emanates from differences in the political policies of certain conflicting parties. For instance, the 9/11 bombing of the TwinsTower and World’s TradeCenter in New York was due to policy differences between the USA and Al-Qaida. Particular individuals whose immigration information details were unclear committed it. In addition, terrorism activities committed against Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 were due to political competitions and policy differences between the USA and Al-Qaida (ADL.ORG, 1999). The two attacks targeted buildings that housed American Embassies in the individual countries.
Bodies defining security intelligence across the world have relied on the political surveillance in attempts to conduct investigations regarding any potential threats of terrorism. This has been a result of the existing close links between political movements, religious groups, and terrorism. Even though political surveillance provides the best and reliable avenue for terrorism investigations, intelligence bodies have faced numerous accusations as human rights organizations raise alarms that the exercise amounts to breach of the basic human rights and civil liberties (IRS.GOV, 2012). One of such human rights organizations is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This organization together with the affiliates have launched many cases against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and police, accusing the bodies for engaging in illegal spying of the political movements, environmental activists and faith-based groups (ACLU, 2004). While filing complaints against the government, human rights organizations claim that the intelligence bodies break the spirit of constitution that assures every individual of their Freedom of Information (ACLU, 2004).
With reference to the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA), human rights organizations demand that FBI informs any groups or individuals about the day of scrutiny and the purposes of scrutiny. ACLU (2004) further advocates that FBI should inform individuals about the reasons of use of the Joint Terrorism Task Forces as they engage in political surveillance. The insistent of the human rights demanding FBIs to respect the Freedom of Information Act is against the spirit of intelligence and secret mission activities. Pursuance of these demands placed by human rights organizations will only work to scuttle antiterrorism mission, and instead increase terrorism (Glaser, 2011). This is explained by the fact that informing suspect groups when and why FBI will investigate it can enable dodging their plans until another un-expecting times.
ACLU (2004) also accuses the American intelligence bodies and government in general for suppressing execution of the First Amendment rights that permits citizens to criticize the government. As an approval to the accusations, ACLU (2004) points at the event during the 2004 National Conventions of Democrats and Republicans, when FBI commissioned police officers to investigate civilian groups that protested over war waged against Iraq. ACLU (2004) indicates that instead of police investigating the protesting group, it could have protected the innocent citizens. Compliance to this call can escalate and encourage terrorism activities as most terrorist like mutinying with groups that are in common to perfect their acts. Involvement of intelligence officers during such protests is just good as it can help identify the potential terrorist taking advantage of the quagmire.
One way of reducing crimes related to illegal immigration in the USA is securement of the government full implementation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) number 237 (a) (1) (B). This Act provides space for deportation of any alien deemed to be in the USA contrary to the laws of immigration or breached any of the laws regulating staying of immigrants in the country (2011). This law applies to all illegal immigrants including even those who have established homes and grown children with American citizenships and secured jobs. Such illegal immigrants are always in serious worries. This is usually due to the understanding of possible arrest and prosecution by immigration judges. In most prosecutions, immigration judges’ orders are about deportation of the convicts without security for the otherwise well paying jobs.
EPIC, Electronic Privacy Information Center (2009) points that as one way of strengthening the operations of the intelligence bodies in countering terrorism, Attorney General Ashcroft produced guidelines overturning the amendments of 1985 that required intelligence personnel to posses abstract evidence as to suspecting particular group of being security threat. In the guidelines released in 2002, Attorney General Ashcroft permitted FBI officials to investigate any political or other group of people without necessarily produced evidence validating the suspicion. As an additional amendment released in 2002, Attorney General Ashcroft overturned the provision of 1989 that prohibited FBI from searching and investigating internet connections belonging to private sectors. The amendment now allowed FBI to investigate internet and get into private databases when detecting terrorism plans (EPIC, 2009).
The sad experiences of the 9/11 attack that hit America triggered the government to initiate and hasten the implementation process of the Patriotic Act. The process of implementing the Patriotic Act particularly after the 9/11 incidence also led to the establishment of an initiative called Special Registration. This initiative applied to more than 80,000 Arab immigrants specifically men who underwent facial photographing, taking of fingerprints and thorough questioning by the U.S. authorities. Implementation process of the Patriotic Act also triggered numerous voluntary interviewing of the Arab Americans by the U.S. intelligence officers.
Increasing number of illegal immigrants have also resulted in the resurrection of slavery and increasing poor working conditions, which are in contradiction to the spirit of American Constitution and laws. Some people just find themselves as illegal immigrants in the USA after accepting deceptive promises by certain people about existence of attractive jobs in the USA. After arrival and finding that things are not as easy as promised, and being unaware about appropriate legal procedures to fend for their rights, they end up being slaves. Such people work in farmlands and heavy factories for long hours without little or no pay (Anderson, 2010). Though suffering, these people do not have any obligation to report to the legal authorities for they lack legal documents to validate their presence in America. Moreover, as a result of such fears that the employers consistently abuse their rights knowing that they cannot access any legal authority to make known their problems.
Lack of paid benefits for the employed but illegal immigrants and difficulty to access justice has seen many illegal immigrants undergo hard working conditions. Some of the employed aliens have accounted injuries leading to their incompetence in the job environment and eventual dismal from job. Serious hardships earmarked by lack of employment have seen deportation of initially healthy and working people who turned into sick aliens back to their countries. Low paying employment opportunities and long working hours are also defining characteristic of life lived by illegal immigrants in the USA (Pena, Rhee & Rodriguez, 2003). The destitute states of the immigrants and need to settle down makes such people appear desperate for employment to an extent of accepting low paying jobs. Normally, the salaries accepted by illegal immigrants happens be too low to apply to the legal immigrants or the local citizens. They also tend to work for very long unpaid hours ranging from 12-15 per day.
According to Pena, Rhee and Rodriguez (2003), aliens also become targets for heavy and physically engaging jobs like in the building and construction industries and agricultural farms. As described by Kahn (2005), children who are illegal immigrants rarely attain high school education, thus, making them incompetent in the American job market. Kahn (2005) indicates that a whopping 49 percent of the illegally immigrant children do not have complete high school education compared to 9 percent of the native American and 25% of the legal immigrants missing the same level of education. They live within strange societies characterized with unfamiliar social practices, and their status sometimes restricts them from rights to housing. Some of them also face detention by sheriffs and federal police officers who lock them into custody behind the legal timeframe.
Discrimination is another criminal offense attributed to the illegal immigrants in the USA. Discrimination usually occurs when the legal citizens realize the illegal presence of aliens, thus, temped to discriminate the aliens and even compromise the status of freedom assured in the American Constitution. This has really made otherwise law-abiding citizen of America begin participation in criminal activities. Social discrimination has also been high against the illegal immigrants in the labor market as they bear the blames for meager income and deplorable living standards of the legal citizens. Aged aliens who probably have children born and registered as America citizens faced discrimination and blame for crumbling state economies. For example, Antonovich complains that children of illegal immigrants made the economy of Los Angeles approach bankruptcy. Antonovich cites that being born in the U.S., and getting registration as the U.S. citizen, children of the illegal immigrants are eligible to enjoy government benefits. They receive food stamps just like legal U.S. citizens and enjoy free education and healthcare services. Provision of these services to the children of the illegal immigrants translates to a burden on the legal citizens whose taxes are clear to the government.
It is also a common practice to find local citizens and legal immigrants using desperate illegal immigrants to facilitate and perfect their criminal activities. For example, some illegal immigrants from Mexico have acted as reliable carriers of illegal drugs in the USA. The aliens perform such roles by crossing the USA through very dangerous and unsuspected venues like deserts and rivers. When caught, such criminal end up locked and deported back to their countries for legal conviction (Pena, Rhee & Rodriguez, 2003).
The seriousness of the situation and numerous human rights crisis endured by the illegal immigrants have seen USA government rise to the occasion to intervene on the issue. Another reason that has triggered attention and probable participation of the US authorities on illegal immigrants attributes to perceived economic impacts these people have on the government. The implications have seen respective state governments identify and establish adaptable policies to manage the situation at hand (Emmanuel, 2012). The federal government through the input of administration of President Barrack Obama is in the process of setting and implementing adaptable measures to limit if not solve the issues surrounding illegal immigrants.
State of California through its lawmakers have gone even steps to approve laws purposed to allow undocumented teenage who arrived in America as children to get driving licenses. This bill targeted to solve the problem faced by almost 2.6 million undocumented immigrants as per the 2010 census. Under the bill, the targeted undocumented immigrants must have been less that 16 year old as at the time of entering the USA. The bill also intended to cover targeted individuals who had lived in the United States since June 15, 2007. According to the bill applicants for the documents must be at least 15 years of age and not older than 30 years. The bill, however, exempted protection for any individual who had faced felony charges.
Slosson (2012) depicts that when fully implemented, the bill was going to allow “deferred action” immigrants to have legal social security documents and driving licenses, with which they can secure employment opportunities. Moreover, the State of California has also approved a bill that would restrain police from carrying status checks for some illegal immigrants. Slosson (2012) unveils that in the federal government Democrats have proved to be very receptive to laws shielding deportation of illegal and law-abiding immigrants. Republicans, on other hand, have actively rejected such proposals citing them as strategies by President Barrack Obama to win Latino votes. According to Slosson, other states that have sided with California in adopting anti-deportation law protecting illegal immigrants include New Mexico, Washington, and Utah.
The federal government has also made what has been a crucial policy in bettering lives of illegal immigrants in the U.S. The policy seeks to allow issue of legal work permits to the illegal immigrants. When fully implemented, this policy will see illegal immigrants freely seek employment opportunities without any reason to have worries (Preston, Julia & Cushman, 2012). When they acquire work permits, illegal immigrants will also be able to apply for social security cards and Medicare. This will ensure that illegal immigrants access and enjoy the benefits accruing from such schemes (Emmanuel, 2012). With this policy in effect, there will be significant decline in death rates of the individual aliens, as they will have legal rights to seek medical care in competent hospitals. The government will also be able to secure taxes that would otherwise not reach Federal Reserve due to failure of employers to forward deductions made on the pay of illegal immigrants.
It is also worth noting that implementation of such policies in the United States to empower illegal immigrants of legal and secured employment rights will be towards great advantage of the employed native citizens and legal immigrants. This is explained by the fact that perceived illegal immigrants would be able to contribute to the social security scheme and Medicare, thus, reduce the burden born by the legal working class in paying for the services consumed by illegal immigrants. The government will significantly reduce the rate of crime escalated by the high number of unemployed illegal immigrants as a result of decongestion of borders and reduction of desperate immigrants who are ready to reach to any money generating activity like drug trafficking to sustain their lives.
Illegal immigration has proved to be a long-term problem in the U.S. Illegal immigrants in the USA are usually detected in two forms, those lacking legal documentation, and those overstaying their visa periods. Both of the two groups pose similar problem to the country and require urgent measures to rectify the negative effects presented to the country and nurturing of positive influence to the economy. Problems presented by the illegal immigrants in the USA economy include consumption of unpaid services and products, willing evasion of taxes by business people running employment sectors and increasing rates of crime in the country. Illegal immigrants themselves face serious humanitarian problems from within the U.S. society. For example, they have restricted rights to well-salaried employment opportunities. They also face serious discrimination either, linguistically, culturally or religiously. Establishment of adaptable policies as the case with the American government will help in securing U.S. and even improving the U.S. economy considering hardworking and innovative nature of some of the aliens.