Illegal immigration refers to the unlawful movement of persons from one country to another without permission from either the nation they are leaving or the one they are moving. The illegal movement mainly comes into being as people try to find the better environment where they can explore their full potential but are denied access to those areas. Mexican, for example, tries to move to the United States seeking for better employment possibilities mainly in the agricultural sector but are faced by numerous logistical as well as legal barriers ( Merino 123). This eventually resulted to illegal immigration which the United States is currently facing. The number of illegal immigration from Mexico has been increased since late 1960s, after the abolishment of the Bracero Program in 1964 and its consequent replacement with the Immigration Act of 1965. The Act set a quota of 120,000 persons who were considered legal immigrants within a year. Mexican Government instituted the Maquiladora Program which was a border industrialization program. It was aimed at creating jobs for the immigrants who were laid-off in the United States. The abolishment of Bracero Program, setting of quota limits, and the increased poverty level in Mexico heightened the illegal movement of laborers with estimates showing a triple rise in numbers of undocumented residents from 4 million in 1986 to 11.2 million in 2008. This can also be depicted by the statistics on border apprehensions, which have grown to 1.5 million in 1999 from 200,000 in the year 1970 ( Merino 34). The result of the rising number of illegal immigration is a sizeable undocumented immigrant population of about 3.1 million Mexican people. This constitutes roughly 60 percent of all undocumented population in the country. This growing problem has caused the United States to pass laws and invest other measures to combat illegal immigration by enhancing the security along the border. There has been increased border patrol of more than 21,000 agents down from merely 3,000 agents, building a fence of 700 miles along the southern border, and deployment of sensor cameras and pilotless drone among other expensive technologies. Secondly, it overhauled the visa system requiring interviews for all new applicants and comprehensive background check. This was to complement the other passed laws and acts that seemed to achieve little to prevent illegal immigration including the passing of Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.
This Act was aimed at eliminating the undocumented stock of workers through amnesty, enforcing employer sanctions, and increasing border surveillance. This achieved exceedingly little because only about half of the illegal immigrants applied for citizenship as well as the laxity in the enforcement of domestic sanctions on undocumented workers. The persisting problem saw several bills being proposed by the Senate and the White House, but they were not passed due to the lack of consensuses among law makers.
The failure of this legislation and the United States’ attack of September 11 forced the country to augment focus on the border security, and this is evident by the increased resource allocation to border enforcement. For example, in the year 2005, border expenditure increased to $2.2 billion over a period of 25 years indicating a six fold rise. There has been a change in crossing site showing that the recent crackdowns have disrupted the cross border patterns previously observed. Illegal immigrants have now shifted away from formerly popular crossing zones which were mostly located from California to Texas and Arizona. Even within the state of California, immigrants prefer to use the harsh El Centro desert instead of risking by crossing the south of San Diego. Currently, there are no accurate statistics available for the exact number of illegal immigrants venturing into the United States, and only estimates can be made.
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Illegal immigration is caused by several push and pull factors that exist. Availability of smugglers and networks to migrant families are some of the factors facilitating illegal immigration and enhancing wage and employment differentials. Networks are crucial as they provide useful information about the destination and how to make a successful trip. They also create connections between the family members and friends who have migration experience. Bracero Program laid down these networks and connections, and they continue to grow each year. Important information is on the availability of opportunities in the American labor market and the border requirements in general. Another factor making immigration possible is the smugglers who accompany the illegal immigrants to their destination for a fee, constituting a substantial illegal immigration cost. The smugglers may demand higher payment due to the increasing probability of apprehension considering that border vigilance has been raised. Thirdly, wage has contributed significantly to the illegal migration of citizens from one state to another. People move for better livelihood, especially if their country is facing wages and economic downturns.
Mexico faced these downturns causing unemployment, depresses in prices of agricultural products, and difficulty of loan repayment; these factors fueled illegal immigration. In addition, immigration policies affect the migration dynamics. In Mexico, the government failure, to stimulate economic growth, has promoted migration to other developed states. Also, financial institutions that fueled emigration stabilize. In the United States, basic immigration laws restricting immigration to just a visa created an incentive for the Mexicans to immigrate. The high demand usually results delay and complication in the system which cause foreigners to opt crossing the border illegally.
Illegal immigration has many implications on both the country and the individuals. Some of these implications may be positive and others negative. In the United States-Mexico illegal immigration, negative implications are mostly outlined by the anti-illegal immigration groups which produce and disseminate statistics showing how immigration harms the U.S. economy and its society. The negative effects include net economic losses where it is believed that undocumented immigrants cause a burden of at least $10 billion to the USA compared to what they contribute to the economy (Barbour 104).
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The economic losses are also experienced by Mexico. As it loses its productive labor to another country, this means that its economic growth will be slowed down. Secondly, increasing of undocumented immigrants contribute to growing unemployment and reducing wages for American citizens since they are willing to work for lesser pay compared to the citizen workers. This greatly affects the unskilled U.S. workers and may depress the wage by 5 to 8 percentage point. High crime rates are another effect of influx in illegal immigration. ( Amanda 167).Those who immigrate and have not secured a job engage in illegal business to be sustained in the foreign country. Immigrants have threat to country security as well as terrorism which cost the government enormous amount of money to safeguard. Death is also inevitable in some cases as the illegal immigrants risk being shot as they cross the highly guarded border. If being not shot, they may end up in prisons where they will be unproductive and continue being a burden to the state (Alden 187).
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Nonetheless, illegal immigration has some positive implications which are beneficial to the country’s economy as well as the individuals themselves. Net economic gain is a positive effect of illegal immigration, and it is believed that the undocumented immigrants, specifically Mexicans, boost the U.S. economy as much as $10 billion each year. Some other studies show that immigrants who are not documented contribute more to taxes than to the social services. Tax revenue, generated by the undocumented immigrants to the state and the local government, was visibly higher than the cost of offering the same services to them (Alden 145).
Secondly, immigration improves the labor economies as there will be more labor available which will cause to higher production, especially in the agricultural sector, and decrease in cost of production as labor will be cheaper. It is also claimed that the immigrants do jobs which most Americans do not want to do, thus demystifying the notion that the immigrants increase unemployment rate among the American citizens. Improved living standard is another positive impact of immigration. The immigrants are able to secure employment and improve their lives by getting as remuneration. In some other cases, the immigrants send home money they earn there by improving the economy of their motherland (Borjas 18).
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In addition, the reduction in crime rate may also result from increased immigration as most people will try to move and seek better opportunities. When people get better jobs and start living a decent life, they will most probably avoid engaging in criminal activities as the mostly do in order to supplement their income. Immigrants also try not to engage in trouble in the foreign country so that to avoid being deported. A research, done by Public Policy Institute of California, shows that the immigrants are incarcerated 10 times fewer than the American citizens ( Amanda 67).
The issue of illegal immigration is serious, and the measures to curb this vice must be come up with. It should be a holistic approach of both nations. Measures should address issues to do with the border security such as increasing security surveillance on the border as allowing illegal immigrants become a threat to national security( Amanda 294). The Senate and the White House also have a mandate to pass effective legislation that will facilitate the curbing of the illegal immigration (Haerens 56).This is only possible if they set aside their political differences. Such a move will help the United States Government save the lives. The dysfunctional immigration system is also needed to be transformed so that its effective and efficient work may lead to winning the confidence of the foreigners. This will reduce the number of illegal immigrants as they will follow the legal process of becoming the U.S. citizens. Research should prevent illegal immigrations. As it will show the statistics of immigrants and also indicate the factors that contribute to this problem, the result of these researches should be disseminated to the relevant department so that policy changes are made where necessary and the implementation of the recommendation is affected (Barbour 14).
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The Mexican Government should provide measures to plan, manage, and improve the economic conditions of the country which will ensure that there is a creation of employment. This will caution people from running away from their motherland. This can be done by readily providing loans at a lower interest rate. In turn, it can encourage people to borrow capital and start their own income earning activities. It should also put in place stringent rules that will prevent cross border movement. For example, all smugglers should be cracked down as they are the ones who take the immigrants to their destination (Merino 35).
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