Immigration: Essential for a country to thrive, rife with problems, bursting with emotional implications, and in desperate need of reform.
The Center for Immigration Studies estimated that the illegal immigrant population in the United States was 11 million in 2008. With numbers that large come a perception that immigration is a problem. It is not a problem though, but a necessity.
The driving problems are economics and racism. Europeans and Asians come to America with money to buy land, homes and commodities, which help the economy grow. That’s economics. Mexicans come across the border to America and are assumed to be here for criminal activity, drug trafficking, and to take jobs. That’s racism. According to Juan Jose Lopez, director of the Migrant, Refugee and Labor Services Bureau for the Department of Workforce Development in Madison, 80% of immigrant workers in Wisconsin are undocumented, but they’re not stealing jobs.
“Latinos do labor Americans don’t want to do,” he said. UW-Madison law professor and immigration law specialist Grant Sovern agreed.
“In reality, immigration helps economics nationally…on a purely financial level they are paying more into the system than citizens because they don’t get any money back.” The trouble is individual states are burdened with the majority of immigrants, and hospitals, emergency rooms and public schools see the brunt of this.
The technical problem is too many people paired with a Green Card system that is flawed and unfair. Undocumented people represent the majority of growth in the U.S., largely because an exceptional number overstay their visas. The Green Card system is complicated, with only 140 thousand cards available per year. That number is divided equally among countries, not paying attention to population. Therefore, an immigrant from Finland, for example, will obtain a Green Card years ahead of an immigrant from India, because demand is not as high. There is also a lottery, which again does not take into account the astronomically higher number of people applying from places like Mexico, India and China. This becomes a problem in examples like this: 50% of people in science and technology graduate programs are born outside of the U.S. We need those people to help our economy and society advance, but it would take most of them about six years to get a Green Card.
The moral problem is the emotion surrounding the issue and the families that are already living here illegally. Christina, a woman living in Phoenix, Arizona with her two year-old daughter, moved to the United States when she was 19. She works two jobs, keeping longer hours than many Americans. She considers Phoenix her home, has many brothers living here, and is married to a man from Wisconsin. If she went back to Mexico to try and secure a Green Card, it could take ten years. “Ten years is a lot of years,” she said. Especially when her daughter is growing and she’s created a life here.
The current problem is last years Arizona Law. It does little to help the immigration issue, and it promotes racism and creates a culture of fear, all while bordering unconstitutionality. The Constitution says each state cannot have its own border laws. The Arizona law, as Sovern said, “is legislating where only the federal government has the right to legislate.”
There are many problems with immigration, but it itself is not a problem. A federal judge blocked full enforcement of the Arizona law, but Governor Jan Brewer has appealed the ruling. South Carolina and Oklahoma are just two of many more states following Arizona’s lead. President Obama needs to come through with his two-year-old pre-election promises of immigration reform, and Congress needs to work with him to create a workable, national policy, before other states imitate Arizona’s path and turn this country away from one of opportunity, and into one of oppression.